Furore over exams in new curriculum

Thursday July 04 2019

With only three years before the current Grade Three learners join junior secondary school, confusion still reigns on whether they will sit a national examination.

This emerged during two different sessions attended by members of the Senate Education Committee and the National Assembly in Naivasha on Tuesday and Wednesday.


Education ministry officials are banking on a report by a task force chaired by Prof Fatuma Chege (Deputy Vice-chancellor at Kenyatta University) for policy direction regarding the issue.

Cabinet Secretary George Magoha, speaking on the sidelines after meeting with members of the Senate, insisted that everything was on course.

“We want to see the roadmap, where we are going, and we have met a battery of stakeholders,” Prof Magoha said. He revealed that the government had, unanimously, agreed that there will be a national examination at Grade Nine and Grade 12, refuting claims of a Grade Six assessment.


“The issue of Year Six will be dealt with by a committee of experts,” he insisted while addressing journalists. But speaking during the plenary, Prof Magoha had indicated that there will be a national examination at Grade Six, a suggestion that met strong resistance from participants, with some saying that at age 11, it would be inappropriate to subject learners to a national examination.

“How will a student for example be placed at Alliance High School without doing an examination? We must have a way of transitioning these learners to the next level,” said Prof Magoha during the plenary session chaired by nominated Senator Dr Agnes Zani.

He said it would be impossible for teachers to assess learners themselves given the extent of corruption in the country. The issue also emerged on Tuesday during a meeting with the National Assembly’s Education Committee members, who wanted to know what will happen in terms of assessment at Grade Six.


The bone of contention is whether there will be a summative or formative examination. MPs were also concerned that the new system might introduce too many examinations.

The 17-member task force will be officially inaugurated today at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) and is expected to look at several issues, among them whether Grade Six learners will sit a national examination and where to domicile Junior Secondary School.

Dr Zani said the question should be on the need for an examination in Grade Six.

“We have to look at how these assessments will be done and if we will need external assessment,” said Dr Zani, adding that there is need to look at how teachers will be overnighted in case they administer the exams.

Grade Three pupils will be assessed in September.

Kenya National Examinations Council chief executive officer Mercy Karogo said the assessment will aim at establishing learning outcomes and not grading of individual learners or schools. She added that no one will be stopped from moving to the next level.