Kirinyaga has emerged the best performer in the maiden ranking of counties in the national Standard Eight examinations that once again saw candidates from private schools dominate the top slots.
All the top 10 positions in the school rankings in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination results released on Wednesday were taken by private schools, with Gilgil Hills Academy leading the pack with a mean score of 410 marks out of 500.
The best ranking public school, Kathigiri B Academic in Meru, with a mean score of 395.8, was not even among the top 10 schools nationally.
Star Sheikh Academy, a Machakos private school placed at number 10 nationally, has a mean score of 398 marks.
But a boy and a girl from Nairobi county led the standings even though the region itself was ranked 20th out of the 47 counties, indicating that the quality of education in the city is trailing rural regions.
The top candidates were Christine Muthoni Kagiri of Tender Care Academy in Komarok Estate and Martin Waiharo of Moi Educational Centre in South C. (READ: Nairobi girl and boy top KCPE exam)
Both candidates scored 442 marks, eight more than what last year’s candidates, Linus Ngatia and Collins Kiprop, who scored 434 marks.
The two are from private schools in what shows that public schools are still falling behind private academies, largely because of the challenges of Free Primary Education.
The 10,670 candidates in Kirinyaga county scored an average of 274.6 marks. Nandi county, with 5,000 more candidates than Kirinyaga, emerged second with an average of 265.9 marks.
Makueni, Uasin Gishu, Busia and Baringo emerged third, fourth, fifth and sixth in the rankings, respectively.
Elgeyo/Marakwet, Kisumu, Vihiga and Kakamega were the other counties in the top 10 listing, which has been introduced to replace the provincial ranking.
Counties from the coastal region performed poorly, taking the bottom five places. The best ranked county from the region, Mombasa, took position 15.
Kilifi, Lamu, Taita Taveta, Kwale and Tana River were at the tail end, in that order. (READ: )
Populous Kisii county could only beat the five coastal regions, emerging position 42. (READ: Nyamira at bottom of the heap)
Overall performance in the national exams dropped compared to 2010.
Whereas 49.39 per cent of the candidates scored 250 marks and above in last year’s KCPE, the figure dropped to 48.38 per cent this year.
Despite the drop, Education minister Sam Ongeri said, the quality of top marks obtained improved in this year’s examinations.
This year, 5,806 candidates scored 400 marks and above, double the number who obtained the same marks last year.
“This year, the quality of performance was therefore much better compared to last year,” Prof Ongeri said.
Nairobi had 664 candidates scoring more than 400 marks, the highest in all the counties. It was followed by Kiambu (398), Nakuru (356), and Kakamega (228).
Prof Ongeri praised the performance of all counties, noting that leading candidates in all the regions scored at least 400 marks each.
On a sad note, Prof Ongeri said teachers, parents and exam officials were colluding to enable candidates to cheat in the tests.
In all, candidates from 335 centres had their results cancelled due to cheating. (READ: Grades cancelled in 335 Kenyan schools)
Prof Ongeri did not state the exact number of candidates whose results were affected.
But the figure is expected to be much higher than last year when only 68 centres were affected.
Many of those whose results were cancelled had been caught with mobile phones or with notes smuggled into exam centres, Prof Ongeri said.
Prof Ongeri said only four counties, Nyeri, Turkana, Laikipia and Busia, did not record irregularities.
The minister announced that schools will from next year close in October to allow for calmness during the examination period.
In the radical departure, the first and second terms will be extended by up to four weeks while the third will be reduced to only eight weeks. (READ: New term dates suggested)
The result will be that children will be home for the December holidays for two-and-half months.
“This will make the holidays for the first and second terms shorter and there will be an examination period from October 19,” he said.
The changes are to be communicated to schools through a circular by January 13, the minister said.
Prof Ongeri said the government has spent Sh82 billion to improve access to education and improve enrolment in the country’s schools.
The move had helped improve enrolment rates from 83 per cent in 2005 to 96 per cent currently.
The increase in enrolment reflected in registration for the KCPE where the figure has shot up to 776,214 up from 587,961 candidates in 2003 when the free learning programme was started.