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Students repeating classes despite ban, dropout rate high: report

Monday July 15 2019

Education CS George Magoha

Education CS George Magoha addresses secondary school heads at the Kenya Revenue Authority Training Institute in Mombasa County on June 11, 2019. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Learners are still being forced to repeat classes despite a ban several years ago, states a report released on Monday by the Education ministry.

The report followed a study in 2018 that covered the whole country.

The study found that a substantial number of learners still repeat classes and that the dropout rate is high.


The National Assessment System for Monitoring Learner Achievement for Standard Three indicates that 43.8 percent repeated a class, with boys accounting for 46.8per cent and girls 40.3per cent.

In the case of Standard Seven pupils, 59.5 per cent were found to have repeated a class.


“In the monitoring learner achievement (MLA) for Form Two, 28.9 per cent of the principals reported to have cases of class repetition in their schools,” reads the report compiled by Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec).

“Repetition was highest at Form Four with more boys than girls, at an average of three and two respectively. Repeating classes is associated with low learning outcomes.”


The study found that Class Seven children who repeated the class scored 4.1, 3.4, 3.3 and 5.0 points lower in Mathematics, English, Kiswahili and Science respectively than those who had not repeated.

The report says some of the reasons cited for repetition are chronic absenteeism, poor performance, demands by parents and transfers to other schools.

It also raises questions on teachers' over-reliance on commercial examinations.

“ A substantial proportion of teachers are not using their own tests to continuously monitor learning but are relying on past papers, zonal and commercially outsourced assessments and tests,” reads the report.

“Similarly, in the Class Three study, teachers reported use of commercially sourced tests (30.1 per cent) and past papers (31.2 per cent) to assess learning. In the Form Two study, close to 75 per cent of teachers reported using past papers at least frequently."

The report also warns that excessive testing is likely to affect learner achievement.

“Standard Three pupils who were assessed frequently scored 40.8, 51.8 and 63.1 points lower in Mathematics, English and Kiswahili, respectively, than those who were assessed less frequently,” it states.


Regarding cases of dropping out, 77.7 per cent of head teachers indicated that their schools had experienced cases of pupils dropout at Standard Seven from 2016 to 2018.

In Form Two, the study revealed that more boys than girls had dropped out of school.

“The dropout rate was highest as students transited from Form One to Form Two, with an average of 14 students dropping out at this stage. Poverty, financial reasons, domestic responsibilities, truancy, child labour, low academic achievement and pregnancy were cited as the reasons."

The report also indicates that indiscipline is still prevalent in schools as manifested through noisemaking, rudeness, drug abuse and late arrival.

Many learners are also going to school without eating.

“Though teacher attendance to class has improved, sizable percentages of headteachers reported the following to affect Grade Three teacher performance to a large extent: chronic absenteeism (23.6 per cent), missing lessons (18.1 per cent), truancy (18.4 per cent) and examination irregularities (15 per cent)."


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."

Earlier in July, Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang said the ministry would build the capacity of teachers to enable them carry out their own assessments instead of buying question papers.