Candidates who sat this year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination will from Monday know the schools they will join in January.
The first group to know their schools are those joining the 103 national schools and who scored more than 400 marks.
The selection, which started two weeks ago under the leadership of Director of Secondary Education Paul Kibet, came to an end on Friday in Naivasha with Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed visiting the team for a brief.
Some 12,273 candidates scored between 401 and 500 marks which means they will get a direct ticket to national schools. In January this year, some 29,712 students joined national schools which means that next year, the number could go up.
Those who scored between 301 and 400 marks are 228,414 which means that some of them will still end up in national schools but depending on the region they come from with students from 17 marginalised areas being the greatest beneficiaries.
The selection of students for Form One is guided by four key considerations: Merit, equity, choice and affirmative action. More importantly is the obligation to ensure 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary education.
The team that was meeting in Naivasha had a tough task which was to ensure that selection to national schools reflects the face of the country.
They also had a responsibility to ensure candidates are placed in schools based on their gender, and implement affirmative action, among other factors.
Additionally, the top five candidates of either gender from every sub-county will be placed in national schools on the basis of the choices they made during registration for KCPE.
The ministry has also a responsibility to ensure equity in placement in national schools by applying sub-county quotas based on candidature strength and affirmative action where a sub-county candidature is too low to attract a quota.
By design, affirmative action aims to guarantee the participation of minorities and marginalised groups in national schools as guided by the Constitution. The selection will take place at national and regional levels.
The national launch will take place on Monday at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) while the regional launch will be on December 5 at designated venues within the regions.
Ms Mohamed will preside over the exercise where selection lists for national schools will be issued with county directors of education, Teachers Service Commission county directors and principals of national schools expected to attend.
The regional launch will run from December 5 to 7 in 10 areas.
In the North Rift region, the exercise will take place at Moi Girls’ High School Eldoret and the participating counties will be Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Nandi, Turkana and West Pokot while in Coast region, the exercise will be at Coast Girls’ High School and will cover Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, Tana River, Taita-Taveta and Lamu.
In the South Rift, Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang will supervise the event at Afraha High School, which will cover Kericho, Bomet, Nakuru, Narok, Baringo, Samburu and Laikipia.
In Kisumu, it will be at Kisumu Polytechnic and will cover Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Kisii, Nyamira and Migori.
In Kakamega, the exercise will be at Kakamega High School and will cover Kakamega, Vihiga, Busia and Bungoma while in the Metropolitan region, which covers Nairobi, Kiambu and Kajiado, the exercise will be at Mang’u High School.
In Central region, which includes Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Murang’a and Nyandarua, the event will be at Nyeri Technical while in the Machakos region, which covers Machakos, Kitui and Makueni, the exercise will be at Machakos School.
In Garissa, it will be at NEP Girls’ High School and will involve Garissa, Wajir and Mandera counties while in Meru region (Embu, Tharaka-Nithi, Meru, Marsabit and Isiolo) the exercise will be at Kaaga High School. “Principals have no role in the selection since the exercise is done by a computerised system,” said Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha) chairman Kahi Indimuli.
However, as the exercise goes on, parents are doing behind the scenes lobbying for specific schools with some principals playing hide and seek games.
“The problem is that parents want their children to go to specific schools. Some of these students did not select these schools and do not want them but parents force them to go there,” said Mr Indimuli.
The challenge the parents will have to contend with is that some students may be placed in schools far from their regions depending on the availability of space. With the ban on a second selection, parents will be hoping that the children are selected to their schools of choice.
Previously, parents would ignore the first selection and wait for the second one in order to benefit from slots left by students unable to report for various reasons.
Ms Mohamed announced that there will be only one selection. “As a result, the ministry’s relevant departments have put in place all mechanisms to ensure that the selection is completed as fast as possible,” said the CS.
National Parents Association chairman Nicholas Maiyo said most parents want their children to join elite schools. “Parents should take up slots in any school. The big schools have a name but students still pass their examinations in these other small schools,” said Mr Maiyo.
Top national schools usually get as many as 100,000 applications from candidates yet they can only admit about 600.
This year, the top candidates scored 453 marks while the number of candidates scoring 400 marks and above shot up significantly. More than 130,000 students are expected to join 531 extra county schools while 150,000 students will report to 1,031 county schools.
Over 700,000 students will join sub-county schools, special schools will get 900 and 70,000 students will join private schools.
In 2015, the government came up with tough guidelines on Form One selection. Under the new rules, the 103 national schools were grouped into four clusters, with each candidate required to pick only one school from each cluster.
A recent report by Auditor-General Edward Ouko revealed that 85 schools upgraded to national status were not attracting students.
“The continued pressure on the original national schools was attributed to low reporting rate in the upgraded schools. An analysis shows that 13 out of 16 newly upgraded schools could not attract even a half of the students selected and in some cases only three per cent reported,” says the report.
Mr Ouko said low reporting rate was attributed to a public perception that the new national schools were yet to meet the standards of the original national schools.