200,000 KCPE candidates unsuitable for secondary admission

200,000 KCPE candidates got less than 200 marks, ineligible for secondary admission

More than 200,000 candidates scored less than 200 marks each in last year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations whose results were released on Wednesday, indicating that this group is technically illiterate and ineligible for admission to secondary school.

On average, these candidates, about 24 per cent, obtained 35 per cent in each of the five subjects they were tested in.

Out of the 200,000, some 3,061 had less than 100 marks, meaning that they obtained an average of 25 per cent in each exam.

The pass mark is 250 out of the possible 500.

Perhaps, their best bet is youth polytechnics that are currently being revamped and revitalised.

These statistics provided by the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) corroborate independent studies showing that many children complete primary education without acquiring basic writing and arithmetic skills.

For examples, studies conducted by a research organisation, Uwezo, in 2013 indicated that 11 out 100 children in Standard Eight could not do Standard Two sums.

Further, seven out of 100 children in Standard Eight could not read or write in English or Kiswahili.

According to Knec figures, the bulk of the candidates who sat the exams last year – 499,568 or 53.85 per cent — recorded between 201 and 300 marks.

At least this group is assured of Form One admission in district schools.

Entry to top county schools is reserved to those with a minimum of 350 marks and above.

Even then, these schools have become so competitive and unpredictable, requiring that one gets at least 380 marks to be assured of a good school.


According to the statistics, only 22.6 per cent of the candidates, or 209,546, attained 300 marks and above, with those falling in the range of 301 to 400 being 201,986, or 21.77 per cent.

Topping the charts were 7,560 candidates with 401 marks and above, constituting just 0.81 per cent of all the candidates.

The best candidate, Aggrey Akhanyinya Wabuko, scored 449 marks, the highest in seven years.

In total, 927,789 candidates sat the national exams, up from 880,486 the previous year, representing a 5.37 per cent increase.

Of these, 459,885 were girls while 467,904 were boys constituting a gender ratio of 49.6 per cent and 50.4 per cent.

Analysis of the results in terms of subject shows that the candidates did well in English language, mathematics and religious education, the latter registering a mean score of 70.20 per cent.

By contrast, English composition had the lowest percentage score at 41.38 per cent, meaning that most candidates did not attain half the marks.

A similar trend was witnessed in 2014 when the candidates obtained an average mean score of 41.47 per cent in English composition.

The implication is that learners are losing writing skills and the capacity to express themselves logically, which raises the debate about the ability of the learners to use language constructively and effectively.

Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, who released the results, expressed similar concerns and asked for remedies to reverse the trend.

“The continued poor performance in English composition is worrying because it means that learners lack the ability to creatively and coherently express themselves in prose,” said Dr Matiang’i.

“I, therefore, urge parents and teachers to inculcate a reading culture among learners and this is the only way for them to improve their writing skills.”


An analysis of the statistics also indicated that more than 60 per cent of the candidates were over-age, having 15 years and above.

In this group, there were 402,740 candidates aged between 15 and 16 years.

Another 136,108 were between 17 and 18 years old while another 30,635 were above 19 years.

The appropriate age for a Standard Eight candidate is between 13 and 14 years.

There were 362,934 candidates in this age-set. A small number – 4,955 or 0.53 per cent — were underage.

Having more over-age children within an educational cycle is an indication of wastage.

Either the candidates have been repeating classes or they started schooling late and the effect is that they clog the system as they occupy the space meant for others.

The statistics also show that the number of candidates with various forms of disabilities was on the rise.

This year, there were 2,118 candidates with disabilities compared to 2,097 in 2014.

This means that the interventions to ensure inclusivity in education are beginning to bear fruit.

Sign language, for example, is becoming an integral component in education and is allowing more disadvantaged children to access education. - Daily Nation, 1st January 2016.

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