Revealed: Kenya's most popular high schools

Kabianga and Nanyuki are the most sought after boys' schools by 2023 KCPE candidates.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Kabianga High School, Nanyuki High School and Pangani Girls' High School are the most sought-after schools by students seeking to join Form One, according to analysis of 2023 placement results. 

Kapsabet Boys, Alliance Girls, Maseno and Nakuru High are close behind. 

Pangani Girls' was the most sought-after secondary school among female candidates for the 2023 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education, with 144,542 seeking places in the giant national school.

However, only 384 girls were placed in the national school in Nairobi city. Other schools most sought after by girls were Alliance and Butere Girls High Schools.

According to the Ministry of Education, some 135,033 girls applied to Alliance Girls High School, while 114,635 chose Butere Girls High School. However, only 384 and 480 girls respectively were placed in the two national schools. 

Nanyuki High School had 158,741 applications against a capacity of 480, Kapsabet Boys had 143,723 applications but only 432 were placed, while Maseno School had 123,777 applicants but 672 were selected.

At Nakuru High School, 115,513 boys expressed interest in joining the giant national school but only 480 were selected.

Data shows that Mangu High School had 112,938 applicants but only 480 were selected, while Alliance High School had 110,839 applicants but 384 were selected.

This is the last cohort of KCPE under the 8-4-4 education system, as the introduction of the Competency Based Curriculum will extend to Junior Secondary Grade 8 from next year.

The first cohort of KCPE candidates sat for the exam in 1985, while the final examination was held in 2023.

"The first Form One selection and placement exercise was presided over by the then Minister of Education, Hon. Oloo Aringo at Lenana School in January 1986. Today's event is therefore historic as it marks the last placement of learners under the 8-4-4 education system," said Education Cabinet Secretary, Hon. Ezekiel Machogu.

He said the milestone signals a shift to a more dynamic approach to student assessment and placement as we usher in the CBC.

In the past, Form One selection and placement was a manual and decentralised process.

Principals would meet at various levels, starting with national meetings, followed by provincial (now called regional) meetings, and finally district selection and placement meetings.

"During the selection process, principals would manually select candidates under the guidance of education officers and then prepare lists for their respective schools," the CS explained.

They would then prepare joining instructions to be sent to the primary schools where the candidates would collect them.

"This manual approach was resource intensive, time consuming and prone to corruption. It also lacked objectivity and sometimes resulted in the loss of approval letters," the CS added.

But thanks to advances in technology and the ministry's full adoption of digital systems, the process became theoretical, which CS Machogu described as a significant transformation.

Today, however, a candidate can find out his or her placement with the click of a button as soon as the results are announced.

The first computerised placement of KCPE candidates at national level took place in 2006.

"This was gradually extended to extra-county and county schools by 2016 and to sub-county level by 2020. Even with the computerisation of the selection process, the preparation of joining instructions remained manual until 2017 when the ministry started uploading joining instructions online," he added.

He said automation has improved efficiency, transparency and accountability in the Form One selection and placement process.

Mr Machogu said it was therefore easier to track and audit the decisions taken to ensure that they were based on merit, equity, pupils' preferences and availability of school places.

He further urged all parents and guardians to take advantage of the system to download their letters online without having to rely on middlemen.