Form 1 selection dispute as KCPE results released

Scramble for Form One slots begins amid row

Results of this year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams will be released today, signalling the scramble for 700,000 Form One slots in public secondary schools.

The cream of 937,467 candidates who sat the exam in November will be eyeing the coveted 22,095 posts in the 103 national schools, even as a formula for selecting those who join such top schools is still under dispute.

Another 66,775 candidates will join the 328 extra-county schools, 114,907 will be admitted to the 993 county schools and the majority – more than 400,000 – will be enrolled in the 6,982 sub-county schools.

There are about 105,000 slots across the 1,200 private secondary schools.

This means about 132,467 will miss Form One slots in both public and private schools.

The selection process to the available Form One places will, however, generate more heat next month as the Kenya Private Schools Association (KPSA) has once again rejected the revised criterion.

KPSA argues the selection criteria segregates candidates based on schools where they sat the tests and ignores merit.

“Public schools have been reduced to conveyancing of the pupils because the Form One selection criteria favour children who sit examinations in public schools,” said KPSA Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndoro.

He said the ‘skewed formula’ has seen more than 90,000 children migrate from private to public schools in the last two years. “Private schools are not opposed to equitable distribution of national school slots to all regions and to application of affirmative action.

What we are opposed to is the classification of schools as public or private for reasons of discrimination,” said Mr Ndoro.

The revised Form One Selection and Admission Guidelines 2015 cites emerging issues and the need to ensure stakeholder participation as provided for in the Constitution as major reasons for the review.

The document also says the formula was revised due to the rising number of candidates writing KCPE. The candidature has risen from 638,595 for public schools and 107,514 in private schools in 2011 to this year’s 799,000 for public schools and 138,424 in private schools.

According to the new selection process, the top five candidates of either gender in each sub-county shall be placed in a national school of their choice.

This shall be done irrespective of whether the candidates sat KCPE in private or public schools. “However, the top three will be selected first across all sub-counties and then the remaining two according to candidature strength because there are areas with very low candidature,” reads the revised 2015 criterion.

The rest of the candidates in each sub-county, according to the formula, will be selected based on candidature strength between public and private schools.

The formula further states that the selection to extra-county schools will be based on the 20:40:40 ratio, to be shared across the host sub-county, the host county and other counties in that order.

“The ratio of public to private school candidates selected to this category shall be 70:30,” reads the revised formula.

And the places available in county schools will be shared out between the sub-counties on a 20: 80 ratio, spread across the host sub-county and the rest of the sub-counties in that order.

All the candidates for sub-county schools will be selected from the host sub-county based on merit and choice.

KPSA Tuesday said the formula must be relooked into as it remains “highly discriminative”. Ndoro said some 13 private schools have been shut across the country and another 167 institutions converted into learning centres after all candidates migrated to public schools.

He said with only a few days to the selection process, talks must be initiated to end the stalemate to avert the annual crisis selection crisis.

“The trend is worrying the private schools fraternity and some of them are contemplating closing down unless the Form One selection guidelines are revised to promote merit,” said Ndoro.

He, however, said there is hope as Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has expressed willingness to dialogue. “We have confidence in the new Education Cabinet Secretary because he has indicated to us that he is willing to engage us on this,” said Ndoro. - The Standard - Wednesday December 30, 2015.

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