KCSE list of ‘E’ scorers up 64.5pc, first rise in five years


Education CS Prof. George Magoha during the release of KCSE 2021 results at KNEC Headquarters on April 23, 2022. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

The number of candidates who scored grade E in the 2021 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination nearly doubled, defying a five-year trend that had seen the number of bottom performers shrink.

Data by the Ministry of Education shows that 46,151 candidates scored grade E in the examination compared to 28,046 the previous year and 35,536 in 2017.

The rise in the number of bottom performers is a blot on the State’s plan for a 100 percent transition from primary to secondary schools introduced in 2018.

The candidates who scored below D+ increased by nearly 90,000 and accounted for 60 percent of the 826,807 learners who sat the 2021 KCSE exam.

“I am proud to have led the campaigns that have achieved the 100 percent transition of two Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) cohorts -- 2019 and 2020,” Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said when he released the 2021 KCSE results on Saturday.

The results show that 26,578 boys fell in the grade E category against 19,573 girls.

This is a repeat of last year’s pattern where 15,225 boys were on the Grade E list against 12,821 girls.

Some 49,903 more candidates scored D- to 187,264 compared to the 137,361 that were in that category in 2020.

Those who attained the minimum qualification -- grade C-minus -- for diploma courses in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions dropped by 10,048 to 99,406 from 109,454 the previous year.

"We, therefore, need to invest more in TVET institutions where the bulk of our KCSE examination graduands will study," said Prof Magoha.

The government has upped focus on technical colleges in the quest to feed the labour market with technicians and craftsmen like plumbers and masons.

The revival of the technical colleges under President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration was a departure from the trend set by former President Mwai Kibaki of converting mid-tier colleges into universities.

The focus on university education during the Kibaki era led to an increase in the number of graduates with liberal arts degrees in a job market that was already saturated.

Last year, some 15,547 candidates who scored C+ and above in the 2020 KCSE examination snubbed universities while some opted for diploma and certificate courses such as plumbing in technical institutions.

Official data shows that 10,707 candidates did not apply for degree courses despite meeting the minimum qualifications and another 4,840 preferred TVET colleges.

This year candidates who met the minimum university entry qualification of C+ and above increased by 2,005 to 145,145 from 143,140 in 2020.

Over the past five years, nearly all students scoring C+ and above were admitted to the regular university programmes, reducing the pool of learners available for private universities as well as for 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 hurt university finances, prompting the institutions to freeze hiring and slow down expansion as they struggle with debt.

The Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) has been unable to match the loan needs of the rising population of students in public universities, setting them up for a tough life at the beginning of their studies.

Helb pays for their tuition and upkeep. Most universities require full payment of a semester’s fees to admit students and delay in disbursement, therefore, risk forcing some freshmen to postpone their studies.

Helb executives say inadequate allocation and delayed disbursements by the Treasury had caused the cash crunch amid rising defaults from former university students in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic that triggered layoffs, business closures and a freeze in hiring.

The number of candidates who scored grade A- and above dropped by 202 to 7,111 from 7,313 the previous year.

The exams, which started on February 28, were the second KCSE test to be administered outside November-December following the disruptions of the calendar when schools were closed in 2020 to curb Covid-19.

Of the 441 reported cases of exam malpractice, eight involved impersonation, six were for collusion, 203 were for unauthorised materials in the exam room and 223 were related to mobile phones.

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