Family and friends mob Ann Joan Nyaboga after she scored an A- in the 2016 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination in Kisii Town. Nyaboga sat the test at Alliance Girls High School. PHOTO | BENSON MOMANYI
Fears as Nairobi, Kiambu candidates set to dominate elite university courses
Two counties contributed more than half of the 141 candidates who scored straight As in this year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination, putting them in pole position to grab the bulk of the elite courses in local universities.
Kiambu and Nairobi produced 86 candidates, with canditates from 45 counties sharing out the remaining 55 slots. Kiambu produced the bulk of the straight As at 49 followed by Nairobi with 37.
Education experts were on Saturday divided over the implication of two counties dominating the elite courses at universities including medicine, pharmacy, architecture and engineering.
According to the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Services (KUCCPS) chief executive officer John Muraguri, some courses, such as medicine and architecture, are popular because they are considered prestigious and, therefore, the competition for admission to study them is usually high.
However, the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) boss George Magoha allayed fears that only those with straight As will pursue the elite courses in universities.
“Even those with C plus can still pursue competitive courses,” he said.
Among the counties that failed to register straight As are Kakamega, Busia, Meru, Marsabit, Kisumu, Trans Nzoia, West Pokot, Tharaka Nithi, Turkana, Makueni, Kitui, Taita Taveta, Machakos, Narok, Murang’a and Lamu.
Others like Kisii and Nakuru secured six straight As apiece followed by Nyandarua (2), Vihiga (1), Embu (2), Migori (1), Kirinyaga (2), Homa Bay (4), Uasin Gishu (3), Nandi(2), Elgeyo Marakwet (1), Nyamira (1), Bomet (2), Nyeri (4), Mombasa (4), Kericho (4) and Bungoma (3).
Education stakeholders, however, downplayed the dominance of Kiambu and Nairobi in the 2016 examination, urging Kenyans to focus on the general performance of candidates in the examinations.
“We have started receiving genuine results that we used to have in the past, we are seeing genuine investment in education, we do not need to have every county having straight As, we want each to have genuine performance,” said Moi University lecturer Prof Okumu Bigambo.
It was wrong, he says, for candidates to score straight As using unorthodox ways.
Dr Emmanuel Manyasa, the country director of Uwezo Kenya, a think-tank on education, said it is time the country looks at the issue of poor performance seriously.
“Many schools are operating without essential and basic facilities such as laboratories and teachers. There are schools where the community interferes with the management and things cannot move,” said Dr Manyasa.
He said that the government also needs to ensure teachers are in school and are teaching because quality assurance officers are not there to supervise them.
“This means that children are going to schools and coming out uneducated,” said Dr Manyasa.
While releasing the results on Thursday, Prof Magoha warned Kenyans against being obsessed with straight As.
“Whoever glorifies the As is a devil that needs to be dealt with,” said Prof Magoha, adding that some principals were collecting between Sh10,000 and Sh16,000 to bribe examiners and others were being paid by parents for producing As.
“Exam is only worth five per cent of learning, the child needs to be all round. There are lawyers who cannot speak English or argue. We should now start teaching our children,” he said.