More top KCPE candidates this year have been admitted to national schools than last year in a process where performance, schools chosen by the candidate and affirmative action determined who got the coveted slots.
With more than 12,000 students who scored more than 400 marks assured of admission into the 103 national schools, it fell on a committee picked by the Education ministry to determine how the other 20,000 slots in national schools will be shared out.
The committee last week decided to use merit, school choice, equity and affirmative action as the key criteria. On the basis of the school a candidate selected, about 14,000 of the 248,000 plus students who scored between 350 and 400 marks were given places.
Another 4,000 students comprising the top five boys and the top five girls from each sub-county were selected to join the schools, ensuring students from marginalised areas were not left out. Some 1,606 students with special needs will also join national schools.
“The ministry has carried out the Form One selection exercise using criteria that are fair and accurate. All candidates had an equal chance of getting selected to their preferred schools based on merit, equity, choice and affirmative action,” Education CS Amina Mohamed said yesterday.
The top girl Olive Wachira from Riara School and the top Boy Rawlings Odhiambo from Kakamega Hill school, who scored 453 marks each, have been selected to join Kenya High and Alliance High School, respectively. Bildad Olson, who led in the special needs category, will also join Alliance High School.
The number of students joining national schools has increased to 31,337 from 29,712 in 2017 as the government pushes for complete transition to secondary school.
Ms Mohamed said the ministry will place 1,032,334 candidates in secondary schools following expansion of facilities. She said Sh16 billion is earmarked for infrastructure development in secondary schools in 2019.
Apart from those joining national schools, another 128,838 students will join extra-county schools while the bulk of the students, 722,318, will join sub-county schools, which are mostly day schools. They will all report for Form One between January 7 and January 11, 2019.
Ms Mohamed said 12,045 places were reserved for refugees in Kakuma and Dadaab camps while 11,500 spaces in 356 centres will admit adult learners and private candidates above the age of 18.
“Inmates will continue with their education through the adult education programme in prisons while absentee candidates will be given an opportunity to register and take the examination next year,” she said.
Ms Mohamed said the ministry will also allow willing students to join the free day secondary school programme which was started last year.
The ministry started a day wing programme in 19 selected national schools in Nairobi and was to expand it to other schools countrywide later.
The schools that had been selected included Kenya High School, Starehe Boys Centre, Moi Forces Academy, Nairobi School, Lenana School, Pangani Girls High School and Moi Girls Secondary School, Nairobi.
Other schools are Ngara Girls, Buruburu Girls, Embakasi Girls, Arya Parklands, Nembu Girls, Dagorretti High, Langata Secondary, Upper Hill, St Georges Girls, State House Girls, Hospital Hill and Ofafa Jericho.
However, some students dropped out of the schools and opted to join boarding schools after reporting.
The government pays a capitation of Sh22,244 for all learners in public day schools under the Free Day Secondary Education. The amount is extended as a subsidy in boarding schools where the government has set the annual fees at Sh53,554. However, the fees rises to more than Sh100,000 in some national schools when levies agreed among parents, which the ministry discourages, are taken into account.
“Charging illegal levies will be treated as a crime of corruption and attendant criminal measures taken against the culprits,” Ms Mohamed warned.
Once the Form One students report and are admitted to schools, their details will be captured online through the National Education Management Information System (Nemis).
“The ministry has developed a reporting module that will be used by each principal to relay the admission of each learner online. This will provide real time data on admission and reporting trends to facilitate decision-making,” the CS said.
The Cs added that all Form One entrants next year will be supplied with all new core textbooks as happened to the 2018 class.
Teachers Service Commission CEO Nancy Macharia said the commission is working to ease the shortage of teachers.
Mrs Macharia asked school head teachers to ensure there will be no bullying of Form Ones.
“Principals must report cases of teachers and non-teaching staff who might take advantage of Form Ones once they report,” she said.
State Department of Early Childhood principal secretary Belio Kipsang said the ministry will release school funds and necessary resources before opening in January.