Kiambu and Meru counties produced the top three candidates in last year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations.
Joy Kathure Kinoti of Fred’s Academy in Meru, Boniface Kiongo Mwaura of Genesis Primary School and Njomo Wachira of Utafiti, both in Kiambu County, each scored 430 marks to emerge tops in the results that were released on Monday.
The three-way tie of 430 marks was, however, a significant climbdown by 12 marks, compared to 2011’s best.
Then, the leading candidates, Martin Waiharo of Moi Educational Centre, Nairobi, and Christine Muthoni Kagiri of Tender Care Academy, also in Nairobi, topped with 442 marks.
Releasing the results, Education minister Mutula Kilonzo named Kirinyaga the best performing of the 47 counties — it had a mean score of 273. It was followed by Elgeyo-Marakwet, while Nandi was third.
Other counties in the top 10 were Uasin Gishu, Baringo, Makueni, Busia, Kisumu, and Tharaka Nithi and West Pokot, which tied at ninth place with a mean score of 263 marks.
Contrastingly, Mandera was at the tail end of the 47 counties with a mean score of 182 marks.
Other counties that appeared at the bottom of the chart were Garissa (46), Wajir (45), Tana River (44), Kwale (43), Lamu (42) and Taita Taveta (41).
Unlike in the past, no statistics were provided for the performances according to subjects, an important ingredient for assessing trends.
Last year’s KCPE was done against a backdrop of a number of challenges. One was a three-week teachers’ strike that paralysed learning and affected children’s preparation. Extra tuition was also abolished while cases of insecurity were reported in many parts of the country.
But despite the decline in top marks, Mr Kilonzo said the overall performance was better than in 2011 given the fact that this time round, more candidates obtained 250 marks and above.
“In 2012 a total of 416,900 candidates scored above 250 marks representing 51.35 per cent of the candidates who sat for the examination as compared to 48.26 per cent in the year 2011 and 49.38 per cent in the year 2010,” said the minister.
Like in the past couple of years, private schools took the lion’s share of the top positions, reinforcing the concern that the academies, which are generally well equipped and properly managed, have an edge over public institutions. All the best 20 schools were privately owned.
Overall, Newlight Komarock in Nairobi was the best performer, followed in second and third places by Makini Ngong Road Academy and Gilgil Hills Academy.
Other schools in the chart of top achievers were Marell in Bungoma, Fred’s Academy in Meru, Bomet’s Chelsa, Pleasant View of Kiambu, John Paul II of Laikipia, Josnem Academy in Nyandarua and Kathigiri B of Meru.
In sharp contrast from the past, cheating reduced drastically in 2011, from about 7,967 cases to 718 in 41 centres, and this constituted 0.09 per cent of the 811,930 candidates.
The highest number of cheating cases were recorded in Mombasa County (109). There were 88 cases of cheating in Nairobi, while Mandera had 76 and Kisii recored 61 cases. Names of the schools involved in cheating were provided.
Mr Kilonzo noted that cheating was not recorded in 19 counties and urged the others to emulate them.
The decline in cheating was attributed to the stiff rules that followed the enactment of the Kenya National Examinations Council Act last October, which provided for harsher penalties for cheats.
“In 2012, a total of 416,900 candidates scored above 250 marks representing 51.35 per cent of the candidates who sat for the examination as compared to 48.26 per cent in the year 2011 and 49.38 per cent in the year 2010,” said the minister.
Present during the release were Education assistant ministers Prof Ayiecho Olweny and Calist Mwatela, Education permanent secretary Prof George Godia, Knec chief executive Paul Wasanga and the council chairman, Prof Kabiru Kinyanjui.
For the first time, the council released the top and bottom schools in every county, a trend meant to force the tail-enders to pull up their socks.
In total, 819,353 candidates were registered for the exams, however, 7,423, representing 0.91 per cent, did not write the test for various reasons.
KCPE enrolment has increased progressively since it was first administered in 1985. Then, there were 334,336 candidates, but the number has now risen to 811,930 in 2012 representing a 142.85 per cent increase.
A notable trend was that nearly the same number of boys and girls registered for the exams.
The minister added that the violence that engulfed some parts of the country, mainly Tana Delta and Baragoi, did not hamper the administration of the exam. Last year’s KCPE was pushed for three weeks following a long-drawn teachers strike that paralysed learning in all public schools.
So for the first time the candidates wrote their papers in December instead of the traditional November.
This delayed the marking and therefore pushed the release of the results to end of January, rather than the end of December.