Recently upgraded national schools upstaged the established order in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examination (KCSE) examination results released on Wednesday with Maranda High School dislodging Alliance High School from the top spot it had held for two consecutive years.
The improved performance by the schools to which most top performers from private primary schools were admitted in January will come as a relief to parents who challenged the selection criterion, arguing that they had inferior facilities compared to the 18 national schools that existed previously.
“Parents and candidates should now change their mindset towards these new schools and remember that their net result will be to increase competition between schools and eventually improve performance,” Prof James Ole Kiyiapi, the Education Permanent Secretary said.
Six other newly-promoted national schools — Pangani Girls (9), Friends Kamusinga (12), Kapsabet Boys (15), Karima Girls (16), Moi High School Mbiruri (18) and Murang’a High School (19) — were on the Top 20 list nationally.
In the 2011 KCSE exam results, only Pangani Girls and Maranda featured among the top-twenty at position 18 and four respectively.
Prof Kiyiapi said such upsets would become common in the future as the playing field becomes increasingly levelled.
A bulk of the top positions, however, went to the traditional top scorers with Alliance Girls, Starehe Boys Centre and Mang’u High School completing the list of the top five.
Starehe and Mang’u’s performance marked their return to the top-ten category, after they dropped to position 11 and 15 respectively the previous year.
This improvement by individual schools was in step with the overall performance for the year after the 411,783 candidates who sat for the exam posted better results in 16 subjects as compared to 13 the previous year.
Some of the improved subjects were Mathematics, Physics, Biology and Kiswahili while those that posted a drop were English, History & Government and Chemistry.
Moreover, the number of candidates who scored an overall mean grade of A was 1,930, an increase from the previous year’s 1,566 while the candidates who scored the minimum university entry point (C+) were 119,659 compared to 97,134 in 2010.
“These numbers bring into focus the need for us to invest in middle level colleges to absorb the learners who do not attain the cut mark,” said Education minister Sam Ongeri.
Examination irregularities were noted in 2,974 cases with Prof Ongeri revealing that new kinds of malpractices included unruliness, students declining to be frisked or starting fights to disrupt the exams.
The use of mobile phones, however, remained the biggest challenge with collusion between candidates, their supervisors and unscrupulous citizens being also described as an increasing concern.
“Examination malpractices are a threat to the credibility of our national examination and the entire education system,” the minister said.
Nationally, only 11 out of the 47 counties were not involved in cheating.
These were Nyeri, Turkana, Laikipia, Busia, and Machakos. Others were Taita Taveta, Tana River, Nyandarua, West Pokot, Nyamira and Trans Nzoia.
Two recently upgraded national schools, Kanga High School and Garissa High School, were among schools whose results were withheld for irregularities.
During this year’s Form One selection, private primary schools filled only 819 of the 4,223 vacancies in established national schools, inviting anger from Kenya Private Schools Association who said their students were being unfairly allocated the less elite schools.
Mr Peter Ndoro, the association’s chief executive officer, says they were not complaining about the performance of the schools but rather the fact that students from private schools were discriminated against.
“Good performance by these newly promoted schools was not the issue but it was the selection formula which we think is discriminatory,” said Mr Ndoro, adding that the ministerial task force set up to review the selection would be launched on Friday with a one-month mandate.
The top candidate this year was Nalianya Job from St Peter’s Seminary followed by Victor Gitau and Odhiambo Emmanuel both from Alliance High School.
Lonyangapuo Chelagat from Alliance Girls was the top girl, one of only three girls who made it to the top-ten ranking nationally.