The government was on Tuesday under pressure to rescind its ban on ranking of performance of schools and candidates in national examinations.
Those opposed to the ban argued it had stripped the release of national examinations results of the glory it was associated with.
But those supporting the ban said it had ended the stress brought to candidates and teachers.
The Kenya Private Schools Association argued that even though the ban targeted them, they were consoled by the fact that parents knew which schools to enrol their children if they wanted good performance.
“Parents know which schools perform best and if a parent wants a child to excel in studies, they know where to register them,” Mr Peter Ndoro, KPSA’s chief executive officer, said.
“If they want them to excel in co-curricular activities, they also know the schools to send them to.”
Private school owners in western Kenya argued that the government has been formulating policies that undermined their operations and they demanded an end to the trend.
The chairman of the Kisumu County Private Schools Association, Mr Charles Ochome, said stopping ranking was intended to punish private schools.
“The children in these schools are not private; they are children of Kenyans, whose parents pay taxes. And the schools are a resource that the government should tap into, instead of punishing them for what they have,” he said.
While announcing Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) results on Monday, Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi outlined 11 reasons why the ministry dropped ranking of schools and candidates. He argued that mean scores did not give conclusive assessment of the learning process.
“Some schools are better endowed than others. You cannot compare the incomparable,” he said.
Former Education Assistant Minister Kilemi Mwiria, who chaired a task force that recommended the ban, said ranking had to be phased out as it was about “comparing the incomparable”.
“We need to ask ourselves questions about value addition. There can only be competition by comparing how schools added value to the students they admitted,” Dr Mwiria, who is now President Kenyatta’s adviser on education, said.
But the proprietor of Temudo Schools in Kisumu County, Ms Carmeline Tado, blamed the government for the shortcomings that came with ranking.
“Since Prof Kaimenyi had argued ranking was not fair because schools were not equally endowed, whose problem is that? Why can’t the government provide adequate resources to public schools to make them compete with the private ones?” she posed.
In Kilifi, the chairman of the county education board, Prof Gabriel Katana, proposed a county-based ranking method that will enhance competition among schools and subsequently produce better results during national examinations.
“Like the football league tables, schools can be clustered in terms of profile and endowment and ranked using common parameters. The parameters will determine the weaknesses in every county or region and ultimately, the entire education in the county,” Prof Katana, who is a lecturer at Pwani University, said.
DEMORALISE TEACHERS AND PUPILS
In West Pokot, Governor Simon Kachapin said scrapping of ranking will demoralise teachers in the country since no one will bother the outcome in the exams.
“I am convinced that this move will affect education standards in the country and the ministry should review it,” Mr Kachapin said.
He added that the move will also demoralise pupils, who were encouraged when top pupils in exams were recognised and motivated during the exams release.
“We cannot do away with ranking because even countries are ranked according to their economy and poverty index,” he said.
But some private school teachers in Nakuru welcomed the ban on the ranking system, saying, it would end negative competition in education.
“To post good results means higher fees and more children seeking vacancies, which is good for business, while bad results lead to exodus of children and frustration for teachers,” Mr Petero Wanyama, a teacher, said.
The teachers said school owners imposed stringent rules on teachers and learners, undermining academics and effective learning.
In Nyeri, Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) said the government was covering up its inefficiency by not ranking schools.
“It is a constitutional requirement that the government should provide free and quality education, but what we have been witnessing over the years from the KCPE results from public primary schools is something different,” County Knut Executive Secretary Mutahi Kahiga said.
Mr Kahiga said ranking may not have been perfect, but stopping it was not fair.
“What we would have expected is for the ministry to get it in order, rank schools according to factors like environment, enrolment and so on,” he said.
Reported by Magdalene Wanja, Anita Chepkoech, Patrick Lang’at, Kazungu Samwel, Oscar Kakai, James Kariuki and James Ngunjiri.