Candidates in Coast province performed poorly in this year’s KCPE with the region’s five counties ranked at the bottom of the list.
Of the country’s 47 counties, Kilifi, Lamu, Taita Taveta, Kwale and Tana River took up the last five positions.
Only Mombasa County registered a higher score and produced one of the best students nationally, Ms Belinda Adhiambo of Maryjoy Academy who garnered 437 points.
The county’s St Kevin Hills Academy also featured in the top five private schools countrywide. Other than the two achievements, the region’s performance was dismal.
Education Minister Sam Ongeri on Wednesday termed the performance as alarming and said he would lead a fact-finding mission to the region next month to find out the cause of the poor show.
Coast leaders attributed the poor performance to lack of parental support for candidates, teachers shortage, early marriages and lack of close supervision of teachers by education officials.
Children also like having fun at the beach rather than study.
According to former Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) secretary-general Lawrence Majali, bad attitude towards education tops the reasons for the dismal performance of candidates in Malindi.
Mr Majali said parents had abdicated their role and left children in the hands of teachers.
“Parents do not follow the progress of their children’s education,” he said.
Coast Women Leaders Forum chairperson Amina Abdullah blamed early marriages for affecting girls ability to learn in Mombasa.
“Boys perform poorly because of drugs. They have become addicts and have no time for education,” Ms Abdullah said.
Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) Taita-Taveta campus principal Hamadi Boga attributed the dismal performance in counties to inadequate quality assurance officers and poverty.
Lack of the officers had forced headteachers to manage the school while overseeing quality. This, Prof Boga said, had even affected enrolment in tertiary institutions.
“The only campus in Taita-Taveta (JKUAT) has only 40 students from the region,” he said.
Coast Institute of Technology principal John Mwawaza said a senior education officer who transferred and demoted headteachers who disagreed with him marked the beginning of the decline of education standards in Taita-Taveta.
This, he said, started in 1995. Fisheries Development Minister Amason Kingi also said the poor performance was due to shortage of teachers. He called for a meeting to discuss the region’s declining education standards.
Reported by Mark Agutu, Daniel Nyassy, Anthony Kitimo and Rebecca Okwany