Olive Mwea Wachira of Riara Road Primary in Nairobi and Rawlings Odhiambo Aketch of Kakamega Hill School were declared the best candidates in this year’s Standard Eight examinations, whose results were released on Monday.
They both scored 453 to top the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams charts. However, the duo were two marks shy of last year’s best, Goldalyn Kakuya of St Annes Junior School, Lubao, in Kakamega, who had 455 marks.
Closely behind were Mogusu ictor Momanyi of Emmanuel Springs Academy in Makueni who scored 452 and Asanga Leonard Munayi of Moi Primary School Kabarak with 451 marks. Others in sequence were Merabu Adan Osinga of Booker Academy, Kakamega with 449 marks and Ashley Wambui Wambugu of Kutus Municipality Primary, Kerugoya with 447 marks.
Other stars were Joshua Angwekwe of Rudan Junion Academy and Njue Chantal Njeri of Thika Road Christian School, each with 446 marks. They were joined by Ngetich Ryan Kipkurui of Whitestar Academy, Kiptoo Calvin Kiprono of St Marks Preparatory School in Nandi, Namisi Sharon Namikoye of Tender Care Academy, and James Sewe of St Peters Cape View with 445 marks each, while Njagi Ronnie Gathuku of Effort Junior School Kerugoya, in Kirinyaga, King’ori Karleen Njeri of Riara Road Primary, Njagi Ronnie Gathuku, from Effort Junior School in Kerugoya, Onyango Rueben Ombura of M.M Shah, Kisumu, Charles Chiteti of St Peters Boys in Kakamega and Njoroge Karanja of Makini, each scored 444 marks. Fleon Ogutu of Gilgil Hills Academy and Wanjohi Ivy Nyambura of High Peak Junior Academy, Naivasha, had 443.
Those who scored 442 marks were Alvin Gikunju of PCEA Kahawa Sukari, Dorothy Hadassah of Genesis Preparatory School, Kisii, Njonje Jefferson Amukhono of Marel Academy, Bungoma, Debra Gakii from Kathigiri Boarding School and Hilary Muriungi of Fred’s Academy, both scoring 442 marks and from Meru County and Kevin Manyansi of Makini School, Nairobi.
Waihenya Elizabeth Wanjeri of Nyeri Primary, Muchiri Brian Nderitu of Elite School, Murang’a, Ian Kiama of Kathigiri Primary and Abundance Kariuki Nyaga of Fred’s Academy, Sirma Amy Jemutai of Ongata Academy, Samora Ochieng of St Peters’ Boys and Sala Abdimaaid Yakubu of Makini, all had 441 marks.
However, it was not lost that some regions did not have candidates with more than 440 marks.
For the Coast region, the leading lights were Mvurya Hassan Wanini, from Likunda Primary School in Kwale, who had 440, followed by Rachael Rehema Masa of Bamba Kofi Academy in Kilifi, 434, Fatma Anis of Memon Academy, 433, Bushuru Joan Ongachi of Mtwapa Elite Academy in Kilifi, 431.
Evans Musyoka of Coast High Vision and Mahenzo Yeri of Dzikunze in Kilifi both had 430 marks.
In Northern Kenya, the best candidate, Mohammed Isack, from Moyale Junior had 430 marks followed by Billan Mohamed Diis Furqan of Integrated Academy in Wajir with 426 marks and Britney Kirimi Mwenda of High Vision Junior School in Isiolo County with 421.
Private schools continued to dominate top positions 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, 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 unscrupulous officials at Knec altered grades for cash, contributing to the widespread theft in the exams.
Quick marking and release of the results is part of the wide-ranging measures started in 2006 under then Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to conduct foolproof tests and reinforce their credibility.
Releasing the results at the Star of the Sea Primary School in Mombasa, Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed acknowledged that the stringent regulations have made a difference. This year, only four candidates had their result 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 been the case.
Among the trends recorded in this year’s exams was the continuing increase in 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 is still in favour of boys. Girls only outshone boys in the languages — English, Kiswahili and 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, at 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 which would point to intention to cheat.
Knec chairman George Magoha declared that exam cheating was now history and warned that those still imagining they can circumvent the system that they have no place in the current set-up, where a multi-agency team was working round the clock to secure exams.
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.