A governor’s son led candidates from the Coast region in this year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations, whose results were released on Monday.
Hassan Wanini Mvurya, son of Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya, scored 440 marks out of a possible 500, bringing honour to the county chief and to the region at large.
It was perhaps a case of a son being inspired by his political father. Hassan did his KCPE at Likunda Primary School in Ukunda.
However, the best candidates nationally were Olive Mwea Wachira of Riara Road Primary in Nairobi, and Rawlings Odhiambo of Kakamega Hill School, with 453 marks — two marks below last year’s top candidate Goldalyn Kakuya of St Anne’s Junior School, Lubao, in Kakamega, who scored 455 marks.
Among the top schools with high grades, were Memon Academy, Aga Khan Primary and Nyali Primary School in Mombasa. Also in the top league were Mtwapa Elite Academy Kilifi, Busy Bee Academy, Light Academy, St Kevin Schools, Sheikh Zayed Primary and Light Academy, all in Mombasa.
Mwatate Junior School in Taita Taveta, Bethany Academy in Kwale and Dzikunze Primary, Kilifi, equally excelled.
Nationally, the following were among the top candidates: Victor Momanyi Mogusu of Emmanuel Springs Academy in Makueni who scored 452, Leonard Asanga of Moi Primary School, Kabarak, 451 and Ashley Wambui Mwangi of Kutus Municipality Primary school, Kirinyaga County with 447 marks.
Others were Joshua Angwekwe of Rudan Junion Academy and Njue Chantal Njeri of Thika Road Christian School, each with 446 marks. They were joined by Ryan Kipkurui Ngetich of Whitestar Academy and Sharon Namikoye Namisi of Tender Care Academy, with 445 marks each, while Njagi Ronnie Gathuku of Effort Junior School Kerugoya, in Kirinyaga scored 444 marks.
Other top scorers with 442 marks are Alvin Gikunju of PCEA Kahawa Sukari, Debra Gakii of Kathigiri Boarding and Hilary Muriungi of Fred’s Academy in Meru County.
Private schools continued to dominate top positions compared to public schools, extending a trend that has gone on for years, especially since the introduction of free primary education in 2003, which increased numbers in public schools against few teachers and inadequate facilities.
Performance generally improved compared to last year, with some 12,273 candidates scoring 401 and above, compared to the two previous years, 9,846 in 2017 and 5,143 in 2016.
The number of those with 301 and above also improved, 228,414 against 217,307 and 207,141 in the previous years.
Trailing were 2,177 candidates who scored below 100 marks — a drop from 2,360 and 6,747 in the last two years.
Equally, candidates with special needs did pretty well, with the top scoring 446 marks, compared to 426 last year.
The exams were released in under three weeks, continuing a trend where the Kenya National Examinations Council is pushing for quick disposal of results in an effort to clean up the process.
Previously, KCPE results were released after Christmas, two months after completion and more than a month after marking.
This holding period was deemed to provide a window where unscrupulous officials at Knec altered grades for cash, contributing to widespread exam theft.
Quick marking and release of the results is part of the wide-ranging measures started in 2006 under then Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to conduct foolproof tests and reinforce their credibility.
Releasing the results at the Star of the Sea Primary School in Mombasa, Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed noted that the stringent regulations had made a difference. This year, only four candidates had their result cancelled due to irregularities.
“We stepped up measures against cheating, starting with pre-examination monitoring in the second term. As a result, most of the would-be cases of cheating were prevented.
“However, during the monitoring exercise, our vigilant teams discovered four candidates guilty of impersonation. These four will have their results cancelled,” she said.
Declaring 2018 KCPE exams an improvement over last year’s, Ms Mohamed said: “Analysis shows that since the new tough measures meant to end cheating were first implemented in 2016, the performance — which was lowest in 2016 — has started rising, a clear indicator that teachers are now seriously focused on their work and that candidates also work hard in class knowing that only hard work will count and not the occasional cheating that had become common in some centres”.
Form One selection will start on December 3 and qualifiers will join their respective schools in January. Unlike in the past, Form One selection will only be done once without a second selection as has been the case.
Among the trends recorded in this year’s exams was the continuing increase in the number of female candidates.
Out of the 1,052,364 candidates who sat the exam, 525,070 or 49.90 per cent were females against 527,294 males, or 50.10 per cent — an indication that the country is on the path to achieving gender parity not only in terms of access, but also completion rates at the primary school level.
There were more girls than boys enrolled in primary schools in 23 out of the 47 counties. Some of the counties with the highest female population were Kakamega, Nairobi, Meru, Nakuru, Bungoma, Siaya, Kisii, Kitui, Embu, Kisumu, Tharaka Nithi, Uasin Gishu, Kericho, among others.
However, the overall performance is still in favour of boys. Girls only outshone boys in the languages — English, Kiswahili and Sign Language. Boys excelled in the rest — mathematics, science, social studies and religious education.
Another worrying trend is the number of candidates who fail to write the examinations, at 8,347, and although a 14 per cent drop from last year’s 9,726, is a matter of national concern.
Either they represent candidates who drop out, which is a source of worry because it amounts to wastage, or represent cases of double registration which would point to intention to cheat.
Knec chairman George Magoha declared that exam cheating was now history and warned that those still imagining they can circumvent the system that they have no place in the current set-up, where a multi-agency team was working round the clock to secure exams.
He commended teachers for “a superb job” in preparing learners, noting that those who previously thrived on short-cuts had woken up to the reality of a changed environment and hence were concentrating on teaching and achieving good grades.
Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang announced that the ministry will conduct an audit on the state of infrastructure in schools to establish the real status to inform investments in terms of resources and equipment required.
Many primary schools are in a deplorable condition and despite funding from government through the free schooling programme, not much has been done to upgrade facilities. Cases abound of pupils learning under trees or roofless structures.