The Ministry of Education has revealed why thousands of students who sat last year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination failed.
In a report tabled before the Education committees of both the National Assembly and Senate, and which was chaired by MP Julius Melly (Tinderet), Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed blamed inability of candidates to respond to questions requiring application and analytical skills.
“In the past, some schools or candidates would use unorthodox means to attain higher scores by compromising the examination administration process at various stages.
"With the stringent measures put in place by Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) from 2016, there has been a decrease in the number of candidates passing with undeserved grades. This has been interpreted by the public as sudden mass failure,” Ms Mohamed told the committee.
The Cabinet Secretary said there is a need for a culture shift in teaching and learning, where teachers should instruct as expected and students should study, rather than teaching to the test or expecting to compromise the system.
Ms Mohamed was accompanied by Principal Secretaries Belio Kipsang and Japheth Ntiba, among other senior ministry officials.
She was at pains to defend the ministry, which the MPs accused of destroying the future of students.
The CS said the examination was graded based on the scores the candidates had been awarded by examiners.
“During the awarding and grade setting process, reference was made to the chief examiners’ reports, distribution of candidates’ scores, and expertise of the subject specialists.
"As such, the exercise was undertaken professionally as per KCSE rules and regulations and internationally acceptable standards,” Ms Mohamed said.
A total of 314,035 candidates scored grade D and below and cannot proceed to universities or tertiary institutions to advance their studies.
Many will also be locked out of gainful employment.
MPs Wilson Sossion (ODM nominated), Omboko Milemba (Emuhaya) and Godfrey Odanga (Matayos) accused the ministry of working towards failure of students instead of improving transitions.
Ms Mohamed said six schools whose results were cancelled, and three others, have filed cases challenging the cancellation.
The schools whose results were cancelled include Chalbi Boys’ High School, where the results of all 70 students were cancelled due to alleged collusion in English and physics.
Others are Barazani Girls in Makueni County where 96 out of 97 candidates had their results cancelled, Koelel Secondary School where the results of 11 out 321 candidates were cancelled for being in possession of mobile phones, and Tenges Secondary School where 31 out of 149 candidates did not get their results for being in possession of unauthorised materials.
Yet others are Mokubo Secondary (204 out of 205 candidates missed their results due to collusion) and Towfiq Secondary School (121 out 146 candidates didn’t get their results due to collusion).
Ms Mohamed said the results of 67 students at Kibuline Secondary were reinstated for lack of substantial evidence of examination irregularities.
But she was unable to explain why Knec released the results of 190 students at Chebuyusi Boys only to cancel them.
Ortum Secondary and St Cecilia Girls also had their results cancelled, but they have filed cases in court.
“Out of 10 cases, eight involved collusion in examination centres, which had been detected by examiners during marking,” the CS said.
She added that from the trends observed, the malpractices were abetted by contracted professionals administering the examination.
She insisted that the examination was marked according to internationally acceptable standards.