Learners are still being forced to repeat classes despite a ban several years ago with student dropout still prevalent.
Section 35 of the Basic Education Act No 14 of 2013 prohibits repetition of classes. It states: "No pupil admitted in a school, subject to subsection (3) shall be held back in any class or expelled from school."
The report of a Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) study conducted over the past four years shows grade repetition among Standard Six pupils rose from 48.2 per cent in 2007 to 53.2 per cent in 2013.
The report dubbed Quality of Education-Status of Learning Outcomes in Schools, which was released on Friday, indicates that Nyanza had the highest percentage of those who had repeated at least a class at 60.3 per cent, followed by Western, Rift Valley and Coast at 57.3 per cent, 54.6 per cent and 54.1 per cent, respectively.
The study cites repetition as a major problem among Form Two students (57.7 per cent).
Transfer from other schools (50.9 per cent), demand by parents (46.0 per cent) and poor academic performance (32.9 per cent) were cited as the major reasons for repetition.
Last year, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) warned head teachers against forcing or allowing students to repeat classes.
That followed reports that some schools were forcing academically weak students to repeat or registering them for exams in other schools to avoid recording a weak overall performance.
“Forced repetition is prohibited under Section 35 of the Basic Education Act,” TSC Chief Executive Nancy Macharia reminded head teachers.
“All learners should be assisted to transit to the next class and complete any given segment in the learning cycle.”
Another report, by National Taxpayers Association, released last year revealed that academically weak students were made to repeat classes.
The Knec report notes that teacher absenteeism persists.
In Standard Two, teachers being absent without permission from the head teacher was reported at 36.0 per cent while in Standard Three it affected syllabus coverage to a large extent — 47.7 per cent.
The studies also reported rampant pupil absenteeism, at 52.5 per cent in Standard Three during the term.
“The main reasons advanced for the absenteeism were sickness (97.6 per cent), work at home (80.5 per cent) and lack of food (76.1 per cent).
Nationally, 59.6 per cent of Standard Three pupils had been absent from school during the term, led by Marsabit (97.7 per cent) and Mandera (93.9 per cent). Sickness (73.2per cent), lack of fees (20.5 per cent) and uniform (16.8 per cent) were cited as the main reasons for absenteeism, states the report.
In Standard Six, the national mean rate of absenteeism was 1.5 days per month per pupil, led by Northeastern at 2.5 days per month, while in Form Two, 59.5 per cent of the day scholars had been absent during the term.