Exam stars locked out of top schools

Angry teachers and parents on Tuesday demanded the cancellation of the recent Form One selection, citing bias.

They claimed students with low marks were selected to join top national schools while those with higher marks were locked out.

In most cases, top performers were not even selected to join their second- or third-choice secondary schools, they said.

A parent, who had camped at the Education Ministry headquarters in Jogoo House, Nairobi, said his daughter had been selected to join a day school in Busia County, even though the family lives in the city.

The parents said the practice of second selection, where headteachers select pupils who missed out on the national-school slots, is open to abuse.

Lizbeth Nyakundi had always dreamt of joining Alliance Girls High School. She was certain of joining her dream school after she scored 413 marks in last year’s KCPE exams.

“I knew my daughter would join one of the top schools. But we were shocked when the selection was done,” Ms Gladys Nyakundi, her mother, told the Nation.

She was instead admitted to Mutira Secondary School, a district school that is several ranks below Alliance Girls.

Mr James Kibwage, a single father, said his daughter was not selected to join the school of her choice and instead received a letter from Baraka Secondary School in the Rift Valley.

“I have no idea what to do with my daughter, who has refused to go to a school she does not like,” said Mr Kibwage.


However, Kenya National Association of Parents chairman Musau Ndunda said Tuesday this year’s selection was fair.

“We had developed a policy in 2005 that allowed children with low marks to be selected to join national schools. It is prudent for us to be fair to children who come from poor backgrounds. If such children were given a fair playground like the rest, they could have easily scored good grades,” Mr Ndunda said.

Yesterday, Ministry of Education officials defended the selection, saying it had brought equality in education.

“You cannot have a child who studied under harsh conditions such as those in warring communities and those in schools whose infrastructure is (poor) to compete with those who went to good schools.

"What we are doing is providing them with opportunities to compete on level grounds,” said Mr Robert Masese, the director of Secondary and Tertiary Education.

The Nation, however, established that a pupil who scored 149 marks in last year’s KCPE exams was admitted to a top school while some who scored above 400 marks were locked out.


An analysis of the Form One intake list obtained by the Nation reveals that pupils from advantaged areas who scored lower marks got admitted to top schools, while top performers from disadvantaged areas were locked out.

For instance, South Tetu Girls High School, one of the top schools in central Kenya, admitted a student from Mukurweini who had 149 marks and another who scored 169 marks.

The school admitted 131 students who scored 300 marks and above, including 31 who scored above 400 marks.

At Friends School Kamusinga, a national school in Bungoma, a pupil who scored 214 marks from Kirinyaga West got admission. The school also admitted a student from Tetu with 226 marks.

The selection criteria has angered leaders from the region, and yesterday they were planning to meet Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi on the matter.

The school admitted 235 students, with 44 having scored more than 350 marks.

According to the data, 277 students were selected to join Moi Girls’ High School, Eldoret.

However, some who scored lower marks were allowed to join the school despite coming from advantaged areas in the country.

For instance, the school admitted a student with 292 marks from Mwatate and another from Kirinyaga Central who scored 349 marks.

Ironically, the school admitted another student from Kirinyaga Central who scored 429 marks. The school is also on the spot for admitting a student with 313 marks from Kieni West. Nation, Tuesday February 3, 2015

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