All candidates who scored 400 marks and above in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination will join national secondary schools, with a significant number missing out on their most preferred choices.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha, while launching the Form One selection Monday, announced that 33,009 candidates who sat this year’s primary school exam will join the national schools, which generally have good learning facilities and improve one's chances of making the university entry grade.
About 9,770 candidates scored 400 marks and above in the exam compared with 11,559 last year and 9,846 in 2016 — marking the first drop in recent years.
But more than 75 percent of the national school slots include the freshly upgraded institutions that are less attractive to parents.
The top 15 national schools, including Alliance High School, Mangu High, Kenya High and Lenana, have a combined capacity of 5,512, meaning that a good number of candidates will miss out on their first choices.
Prof Magoha said the Ministry of Education was in a dilemma this year in placing top KCPE performers in schools of their choice, arguing that top performing candidates selected just a few institutions.
“Unfortunately, the top schools that are the envy of these candidates have no capacity to admit all of them. This disadvantages the candidates in the sense that missing their first choices leaves them at the mercy of the remaining schools, some of which they might not be interested in,” he said.
Eight years ago, 30 secondary schools, including Karima Girls, Kapsabet Boys, Kanga High and Pangani Girls, were upgraded to national status, joining the ranks of the likes of Alliance, Mangu, Kenya High, Nairobi School, Maseno and Loreto Limuru Girls.
The status upgrade policy has since been sustained, growing the number of national schools to above 100.
Most KCPE candidates and their parents have, however, not changed their mindsets and still consider admission to the original national schools as the ultimate prize.