Cases of underage candidates rise, special needs drop

Tuesday November 19 2019

Schools have ignored government policy that requires children to be enrolled in Grade One at the age of six years. This means that they should sit the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations at 12 years.

The KCPE results released on Monday by Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha revealed the number of underage candidates increased from 15,747 in 2018 to 20,086 in 2019.


“The counties that had the highest number of underage candidates were Bungoma (1,770), Bomet (1,111) and Kericho (1,144),” said Prof Magoha.

On the other end of the spectrum are pupils that are overage, meaning they are above 19 years of age. Counties that had the highest cases of overage candidates were Turkana (4,013), Garissa (1,957) and Kilifi (3,716).

In the special needs category, 2,407 candidates registered for the examination but 64 of them missed the test.


The top special needs candidate scored 414 marks. Some 10 others had over 400 marks out of the possible 500. Those who scored between 300 and 400 marks were 211, while those who scored between 102 and 300 marks were 726.

Learners with special needs are categorised separately in the national examination, which is also adapted to their learning needs. Special needs learners include those with visual and hearing impairment. During the examinations, they are allocated more time than other candidates.


Examination papers in large print and Braille are set for candidates with visual impairment, whereas those with hearing impairment have theirs set in the Kenyan Sign Language. Candidates with physical impairment that affects learning have in recent times complained of being left out of the adaptation to suit their needs.

“I wish to emphasise that, as has been the government’s tradition, the ministry will continue to implement interventions that will help our special needs children to access and do well in their education,” said Prof Magoha.

He also announced that the National Psycho-Education Assessment and Research Centre at the Kenya Institute of Special Education will be launched to provide facilities for the learning of children with special needs. The number of candidates with special needs dropped from the 2,418 who sat the examination in 2018.


Teenage pregnancy cases reported during this year’s KCPE examination also declined. Prof Magoha reported that the number of cases this year stood at 10, compared to 50 cases last year. The ministry carried out – through its field officers and other players – an awareness campaign across the country to combat the problem of teenage pregnancies.

“I am happy to report that this campaign appears to have helped the country drastically reduce the number of cases reported this year, which stood at 10,” said Prof Magoha.

The CS commended all those who helped the ministry in reducing cases of teenage pregnancy in schools. He thanked the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) for taking strict action against teachers who engaged in sexual relations with learners.

Last month, TSC sacked 36 teachers for professional misconduct, including having sexual relations with learners.