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Teachers tell Knec to explain mass failure in KCSE exams

Monday June 18 2018

principals, head teachers, teachers, Kessha

Secondary school heads follow proceedings at the Wild Waters in Mombasa County on June 18, 2018. The head teachers have asked the national examinations council to explain mass failure of high school students in the KCSE exam, especially in science subjects. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Head teachers want the examinations council to explain why there was mass failure in science subjects in last year’s end of high school examinations.

The more than 8,000 heads of secondary schools who are meeting in a week-long conference in Mombasa said parents, teachers, students and other education players need answers.

“We want the government to explain why there was massive failure in KCSE (Kenya Certification of Secondary Examination) especially in Biology and Chemistry. This will enable us prepare this year’s candidates and, if we as teachers are responsible, we will pull up our socks,” the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KESSHA) chairman Indimuli Kahi said.

The principals also want the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to employ more science and art & craft teachers citing shortage.

“Even in the recently concluded recruitment, we were not able to get teachers with subject combinations of physics/chemistry. It was either mathematics/physics or mathematics/chemistry,” Mr Kahi said.

Mr Kahi urged the TSC to advice government on training needs of teachers because of gaps in the subject areas.


“Are universities no longer training subject combination of physics/chemistry?” asked Mr Kahi.

Hundreds of thousands of last year’s Form Four leavers were locked out of universities and other tertiary institutions due to mass failures, especially in science subjects.


Only 70,073 out of the 611,952 candidates — just 11.5 per cent — attained the minimum university entry qualification of C+ mean grade.

In 2016, some 88,929 qualified. There were 142 (0.02 per cent) candidates who obtained mean grade of A in the 2017 exam compared to 141 (0.02 per cent) 2016.

Mr Kahi said as teachers they are concerned over the failures.

“We want our children to pass with flying colours and achieve their dreams. But when they fail, we also demand explanation,” Mr Kahi said.


The then Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said examiners reported that some of the questions that tested candidates’ ability to “DISCUSS or EXPLAIN” certain concepts that they had learnt were poorly answered, with many candidates either listing or providing sketchy answers.

Dr Matiang’i explained the failure during the release of the results at Nairobi School December last year as he raised his concerns over poor performance but reassured Kenyans that the tough measures that he introduced to fight cheating will be sustained.

Knec chairman George Magoha defended the results, saying due process was followed as marking of the scripts were done with due diligence.

“This time we have prepared our candidates well. We hope the government will curb examination cheating” Mr Kahi said.