Confusion, anxiety as Grade 3 pupils gear up for key tests

Wednesday September 11 2019

There is confusion, anxiety and ill-preparedness countrywide ahead of the national written test for the 1.3 million learners in Grade Three set to start on Monday next week under the competency-Based curriculum (CBC).

It will end on Friday, September 20.


A spot check by the Nation and in interviews with learners, teachers and parents established that many of them are still not sure what to expect though the Kenya Early Years Assessment (Keya) is only a few days away.

Some headteachers said they do not know how to download the tasks from the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) portal.

“We are expected to download, print and photocopy the papers for each of the learners. After the teachers grade them, we will then upload the scores on the Knec portal,” said a headteacher, who sought anonymity.


“It’s, however, challenging as schools have to bear the cost. We don’t have a vote head unlike for KCPE, where the government pays for the examination.”

The learners will be tested in mathematics, English and the integrated learning areas (all the other areas combined into one).

“We have been informed that the assessment tests are already in the portal. We will download them as soon as possible,” said Quanatalo Mohammed, a Grade Three teacher at Sparki Primary School in Mombasa County.


“We are preparing the learners to make them ready for the test. They are young and have never done such an exam before, but we are doing our best as teachers.”

But learners at a primary school in Moi’s Bridge, Soy constituency, Uasin Gishu County, are worried about the tests. Pupils who talked to the Nation on Friday last week said they were clueless about the assessment.

The test assessment comes hot on the heels of the application assessment that has been going on since July 12, where the learners were required to clean markets in their locality. The exercise ends tomorrow.

Young learners in improvised protective gear, sweeping and collecting garbage, have been a common sight across the country in the past two months. It has drawn mixed reactions from Kenyans.

Ms Josephine Dadi, a parent of a Grade Three learner at a school in Shanzu, said parents have been informed about the test.

“We don’t know what the assessment test will be like, but I’m hopeful my child will perform well. I’m praying for her and hope that her talents will be discovered early,” Ms Dadi said.

In Marsabit County, many headteachers decried the myriad challenges associated with the exercise.


Forole Primary School headteacher Abdub Godana said they are forced to travel long distances to access the internet and download the tests

“We have a lot of challenges. The Grade Three national assessment has found most schools in remote areas ill-prepared,” said Mr Godana, who spoke to the Nation by phone while travelling to Marsabit town to download the documents.

In Kilifi County, headteachers have raised concerns about the high costs they will incur due to the lack of computers and printing machines.

“We are going to use a lot of money printing the materials. We foresaw this coming and we tried to raise it during the Kilifi County Quality Education Dialogue last month but we did not get a satisfactory answer from Knec. They did not allocate us money for the exercise,” said Mr Moses Mwaringa, the headteacher of Mwaeba Primary School. His school has 51 Grade Three pupils.

At Dadu Primary School in Ganze constituency, headteacher Edward Saro said he was forced to travel to Malindi, more than 60km away, to access internet.


“It has been hectic for us because we are spending a lot of money on transport and processing of the assessment materials,” he said.

Kwa Dadu has 14 candidates. He said the pupils are anxious about the assessment.

Marere Primary School headteacher Jackson Mwaringa said the school will have to use money from another kitty to get the assessment done as the government does not allow them to ask parents for money. The school has 60 Grade 3 learners.

In West Pokot, teachers decried the high costs associated with the assessment. “You need Sh80 to download eight pages at a cost of Sh10 per page,” said Mr Julius Kariuki, a teacher at Atacha primary.


West Pokot Knut executive secretary Martin Sembelo said teachers will face challenges downloading the materials because of the poor internet connectivity in the county.

Bomet County Director of Education Mabale Ndiatsi said Keya is not an exam. He said learners would take as long as they need unlike in traditional examinations, which are timed.

“We are not testing the children and ranking by numbers, as the government wants to check if the learners have a grasp of the issues they have been taught as they transit to Grade Four,” Mr Ndiatsi said. “No learner will be left behind after the assessment as all of them will proceed to the next grade.”

Reporting by David Muchunguh, Oscar Kakai, Maureen Ongala, Jacob Walter, Diana Mutheu, Dennis Lubanga and Vitalis Kimutai