Homa Bay County produced the best candidate in the Nyanza region in this year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations.
Master James Philip Sewe of St Peter’s Capeview in Homa Bay County, scored 445 marks to lead the pack and was followed by Onyango Reuben Ombura of M.M. Shah, Kisumu, who had 444 marks in the KCPE exams, whose results were released on Monday by Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed.
However, the best candidates nationally were Olive Mwea Wachira of Riara Road Primary in Nairobi and Rawlings Odhiambo of Kakamega Hill School, who scooped 453 marks. But this was two marks below last year’s where Goldalyn Kakuya of St Annes Junior School, Lubao, in Kakamega, scored 455 marks.
Other top performers in Nyanza were Aduda Geral Obede of Aga Khan Primary School, Kisumu, 439, Maloba John Maloba, Makini School, Kibos, in Kisumu, 436. Stephen Anga’sa of Kosawo Primary School, one of the largest public schools in Kisumu town, broke the dominance of private schools, with a mark of 435.
But candidates from other private schools moved to take the other top slots — Bundi Ogochi Simeon of Excel Preparatory — Nyamache in Kisii, Kevin Barry Mokaya of Golden Elite and Ondieki Salim Ombongi of Itibo Boarding in Kisii, each scored 434, while Ogweno Dedan of St Peter’s Capeview had 433.
Nationally, the following were among the top candidates; Mogusu Victor Momanyi of Emmanuel Springs Academy in Makueni who scored 452, Leonard Asanga of Moi Primary School, Kabarak, 451 and Mwangi Ashley Wambui Kutus Municipality Primary school, Kirinyaga County, got 447 marks.
Others were Joshua Angwekwe of Rudan Junion Academy and Njue Chantal Njeri of Thika Road Christian School, each with 446 marks.
Also among the top were Ngetich Ryan Kipkurui of Whitestar Academy and Namisi Sharon Namikoye of Tender Care Academy, with 445 marks apiece, while Njagi Ronnie Gathuku of Effort Junior School Kerugoya, Kirinyaga scored 444 marks.
Alvin Gikunju of PCEA Kahawa Sukari, Nairobi scored 442, just as Debra Gakii of Kathigiri Boarding and Hilary Muriungi of Fred’s Academy, both of Meru County.
Private schools continued to post many candidates among the top compared to public schools, extending a trend that has gone on for years, especially since the introduction of free primary education in 2003 that increased numbers in public schools against few teachers and inadequate facilities.
Performance generally improved compared to last year, with some 12,273 candidates scoring 401 and above, compared to the two previous years, 9,846 in 2017 and 5,143 in 2016.
The number of those with 301 and above also improved, 228,414 against 217,307 and 207,141 in the previous years. At the tail end, there were 2,177 candidates who scored below 100 marks, a drop from 2,360 and 6,747 in the last two years.
Equally, candidates with special needs did pretty well with the top scoring 446 marks, compared to 426 last year.
The exams were released in under three weeks after completion, continuing a trend where the Kenya National Examinations Council is pushing for quick disposal of results in an effort to clean up the process. In the past, KCPE results were released after Christmas, two months after completion and more than a month after marking.
But this holding period provided a window where a few unscrupulous Knec officials altered grades for cash, contributing to the widespread theft in the exams.
Quick marking and release of exam results is part of the wide-ranging measures started in 2006 under then Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to conduct foolproof tests.
Releasing the results at the Star of the Sea Primary School in Mombasa, Cabinet Secretary Mohamed acknowledged that the stringent regulations have made a difference. This year, only results for four candidates were cancelled because of irregularities.
“We stepped up measures against cheating, starting with pre-examination monitoring in the second term.
As a result, most of the would-be cases of cheating were prevented. However, during the monitoring exercise, our vigilant teams discovered four candidates guilty of impersonation. These four will have their results cancelled,” she said.
She added: “In the 2018 KCPE examination, the overall performance has improved compared to last year. Analysis shows that since the new tough measures meant to end cheating were first implemented in 2016, the performance — which was lowest in 2016 — has started rising, a clear indicator that teachers are now seriously focused on their work and that candidates also work hard in class knowing that only hard work will count and not the occasional cheating that had become common in some centres”.
Form One selection will start on December 3 and qualifiers will join their respective schools in January. Unlike in the past, Form One selection will only be done once without a second selection as has traditionally been the case.
Among the trends recorded in this year’s exams was the continuing rise of the number of female candidates. Out of the 1,052,364 candidates who sat the exam, 525,070 or 49.90 per cent were females against 527,294 males, or 50.10 per cent; an indication that the country is on the path towards achieving gender parity not only in terms of access but also completion rates at the primary school level.
There were more girls than boys enrolled in primary schools in 23 out of the 47 counties. Some of the counties with the highest female population were Kakamega, Nairobi, Meru, Nakuru, Bungoma, Siaya, Kisii, Kitui, Embu, Kisumu, Tharaka Nithi, Uasin Gishu, Kericho, among others.
However, the overall performance in still in favour of boys. Girls only outshone boys in the languages — English, Kiswahili and Kenya Sign Language. Boys excelled in the rest — mathematics, science, social studies and religious education.
Another worrying trend is the number of candidates who fail to write the examinations, a total of 8,347 and although a 14 per cent climbdown from last year’s 9,726, is a matter of national concern. Either they represent candidates who drop out, which is a source of worry because it amounts to wastage or represent cases of double registration pointing to intention to cheat in the exams.
Knec chairman George Magoha declared that exam cheating was now history and warned that those thinking they can circumvent the system that they have no place in the current set-up.
He commended teachers for a ''superb job'' in preparing learners, noting that those who previously thrived on shortcuts had woken up to the reality of a changed environment and hence were concentrating on teaching and achieving good grades.
Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang’ announced that the ministry will conduct an audit on the state of infrastructure in schools to establish the real status to inform investments in terms of resources and equipment required.
It is generally noted that many primary schools are in deplorable conditions and despite funding from government through the free schooling programme, much has not been done to upgrade facilities. Cases abound of pupils learning under trees or roofless structures.