Barely two weeks after celebrating their exemplary performance in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations, it was disappointment galore for some candidates who missed out on their schools of choice in the Form One selection announced Monday.
Releasing the results of the exercise, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha disclosed that the ministry had placed 30,000 candidates in schools they had not chosen.
Saying that the placement reflected the candidates’ performance, Prof Magoha attributed the decision to lack of schools in counties where the candidates sat the examination.
He blamed the candidates’ bad choices that saw a majority of them picking the 18 elite national schools while giving 85 newly-upgraded institutions a wide berth.
“I wish to ask parents, guardians and teachers to work closely with candidates during the process of selecting schools to ensure they make the right choices,” said Prof Magoha.
He disclosed that the ministry was in a dilemma because candidates considered capable of scoring top marks in the KCPE have a tendency to select just a few schools.
“Unfortunately, the top schools are in high demand and have no capacity to admit all of them. This disadvantages the candidates in the sense that missing their first choices leaves them at the mercy of the remaining schools, some of which they might not be interested in,” he added.
The top 20 students were all placed in national schools, with Alliance High School and Alliance Girls School, Kenya High School and Mang’u High School taking the lion’s share.
Several students were also placed in schools of the opposite gender, which calls for a review of the placement.
Among the disappointed top scorers was Roy Koome, who scored 433 marks and emerged the best performer in Meru County.
He has been invited to join Friends School, Kamusinga, instead of his first choice, Mang’u High School.
When he received his results two weeks ago, he said: “I am delighted with the marks and hope that I will join Mang’u High School, which has always been my dream school.”
Daniel Kanyotu Njuguna, the top candidate at Michinda Boys Primary School in Elburgon, is also unhappy after he failed to secure a place in his dream school.
He had emerged the best candidate at the school by scoring 416 marks and hoped to join Mang’u High School.
His dream was shattered when the selection results were released. He said he was shocked to receive news that he had been selected to join Murang’a High School.
“I was really disappointed as I never expected that my school dream will not come true,’’ said the 14-year-old.
He still hopes to secure a place at Mang’u High School and to later pursue a degree in medicine at the University of Nairobi.
His parents told the Nation after the announcement that they were also shocked by the news.
“We knew very well that our son would be admitted to Mangu High School. We were also prepared to visit the school and get a copy of the fees structure," said Daniel’s father John Njuguna.
Fatuma Habona of Furaha Primary School in Tana River County is also sad. The girl, from the minority Orma community, had hoped that her 406 marks would secure her admission to either Alliance Girls High School or Pangani Girls High School.
“They were my heart’s desire. The outcome, however, is very heartbreaking,” she said.
Fatuma, 15, has been selected to join Bura Girls School in Taita-Taveta County, a school she says she did not even choose.
“I want a better school outside this region. I want a place that will challenge my intelligence and push me harder to achieve my dreams, and Bura is just not the place,” she said amid tears.
Her parents said that since receiving the notification, she has done nothing but cry and pray for a change of things.
Lyn Lihanda, 14, who scored 411 marks, missed the opportunity to join Alliance Girls School.
However, in her case, she feels that landing Lugulu Girls School is still a good deal. “Lugulu is not a bad place to prove a point,” she said.
“The government should consider the best interests of the child. Each and every child had a target and when they miss their schools it becomes a big disappointment to them,” said Amakobe Nanjira, a teacher at Mikindani Primary School in Kilifi County.
The top candidate in Kirinyaga County is also disappointed after he failed to be admitted to Alliance Boys High School.
Fourteen-year-old Franklin Kinyua Mureithi from Multiple Academy scored an impressive 431 marks to emerge the best pupil in the region.
He has been selected to join Kagumo High School in Nyeri County. “I wanted to join Alliance but I’m in the list of learners who will go to Kagumo,” he said.
Last year, more than one million KCPE candidates scrambled for slots in 15 national schools, ruining their chances of joining their preferred institutions, a study shows.
And this year, the case was the same as Pangani Girls, Kapsabet Boys and Alliance Girls, among others, attracted the highest number of applicants.
Pangani Girls attracted the highest number of candidates at 111,817 but has a capacity of 336.
Alliance High School had interest from 83,489 candidates but it can only admit 384; while Kenya High attracted 49,727 336 but only 336 have been selected to join the school.
Immediately after the release of the results, several parents expressed their disappointment with the selection process.
However, Director of Secondary Education Paul Kibet assured parents that the ministry will listen to their concerns.
“We are setting up a desk at the ministry headquarters to listen to parents and address challenges that may arise,” said Mr Kibet.
A total of 1,083,456 candidates sat the KCPE exams this year, out of which 1,075,201 have been placed in secondary schools.
This figure does not include inmates, overage candidates and refugees in camps.
Reporting by Ouma Wanzala John Njoroge, Siago Cece, Stephen Oduor, Ndung’u Gachane, Regina Kinogu, George Munene, Manase Otsialo, Waweru Wairimu and Charles Wanyoro