Economy

KCSE’s list of ‘A’ scorers defies Covid, up 42pc

top kcse

KCSE exam top student Robinson Wanjala Simiyu celebrates with his parents Pius Simiyu and Mercy Simiyu (right), and other family members in Nairobi on May 10, 2021. He scored an 'A' plain of 87.334 points. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

lynetigadwah_img

Summary

  • Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said 893 candidates scored A up from 627 last year while 6,420 others scored A- compared to 5,796 the previous year.
  • This looks set to trigger a scramble for top courses like medicine, dental surgery, civil engineering, IT and architecture that offer hopes of landing a job in the saturated job market.
  • Liberal arts and environmental courses are less preferred because candidates felt they offered fewer openings in the job market.

The number of candidates who scored grade A in the 2020 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination rose 42 percent, compared to the previous year, setting the stage for a scramble for top university courses.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said 893 candidates scored A up from 627 last year while 6,420 others scored A- compared to 5,796 the previous year.

This looks set to trigger a scramble for top courses like medicine, dental surgery, civil engineering, IT and architecture that offer hopes of landing a job in the saturated job market.

Liberal arts and environmental courses are less preferred because candidates felt they offered fewer openings in the job market.

The results mark surprise gains in the year learning was disrupted by restrictions imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19.

“This is surprise gains in the year learning was disrupted by restrictions imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19.

“This is one of the clearest indicators that candidates performed better in 2020 compared with 2019, the negative effects of Covid-19 notwithstanding,” Prof Magoha said when he released the results.

“The placement service [KUCCPS] is engaging with higher education regulatory bodies to ensure that all learning institutions are prepared to enroll these candidates,” he added.

The number of candidates who scored grade A-and above increased 14 percent to 7,313 compared to 6,423 the previous year.

Latest data by the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) – the State agency which provides career guidance and selects students for admission -- shows a higher number of students placed to degree courses prefer technical courses to liberal arts.

For example, an estimated 54.2 percent of the 122,831 candidates who sat for the 2019 KCSE examinations enrolled for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degree programmes. In comparison, 45.7 percent of the 2019 KCSE candidates registered for arts and humanities courses.

The 2020 KCSE results registered remarkable improvement in 19 of the 31 examined subjects with 19 percent of candidates scoring C+ and above.

The number of candidates with minimum university entry qualification of Grade C+ and above increased by 17,394 to 143,140 compared to 125,746 in 2019, creating a possible admissions challenge for public universities.

The improved performance offers a boost to the parallel degree programme in public universities, also known as Module II, which has been hurt by a lower number of students scoring above C+.

Over the past four years, nearly all students who scored C+ and above were admitted to the regular university programmes, reducing the pool of learners available for private universities as well as self-sponsored degree programmes in public universities.

The drop in the number of students pursuing the parallel degree courses whose fees are based on market rates has in turn hurt university finances, leading the institutions to freeze hiring and slow down expansion as they struggle with debt.

From the results released Monday, Simiyu Robin from Murang’a High led with 87.3 points followed by Wasonga Allan of Agoro Sare High and Sharon Chepng’eno of Kenya High that each scored 87.17 points.

Parents whose children score 400 marks and above in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination fight to get space in these top secondary schools, despite the country increasing the number of national schools to more than 100.

Of the 747,161 candidates that sat the 2020 KCSE examination, 380,327 were male while 366,834 were female, representing 50.90 percent and 49.10 percent of candidature respectively.

The exams that started on March 26 were the first KCSE test to be administered at a different time other than November-December.

Cases of exam malpractice were reported with some exam officials and civilians implicated and charged in court.

Prof Magoha said rogue officials were arrested for attempting to leak examination material at various centres, including Adega Mixed and John Mbadi in Homa Bay, El-Hagarsu in Mandera, Kerongorori Mixed in Kisii, Huda Secondary in Garissa and Moro Secondary in Kisumu.

“After four years of a sustained and relentless campaign to fight the shameful and inexcusable practice of leaking national examinations, I can now declare that we have completely eradicated the menace,” said Prof Magoha.

He said results for 287 candidates involved in various forms of examination cheating had been cancelled.

A total of 652 female candidates sat the 2020 KCSE examination in hospitals after delivery compared to 282 in 2019. This has been linked to the prolonged closure of schools to combat the spread of Covid-19.