Private schools get fewer slots, fault Form One selection model

An analysis of the 2015 Form One selection exercise conducted on Tuesday shows that private schools could have been allocated fewer slots than in previous years.

According to the selection list the Education ministry was offloading onto its website as late as yesterday, the private schools were sharing out less than a quarter of the places allocated to top schools.

A tabulation based on 75 older national schools that had picked students on the 2013 examinations, last year’s private schools’ cohort has taken only 23 per cent of the slots.

Among the 17,000 places that had been filled in the 75 schools, private schools took only 3,900. This represented a 23 per cent of the total slots, a little less than the quarter that the academies enjoyed previously.

Overall, all the 104 national schools will take in 20,291 Form One students, according to statistics Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi released on Tuesday when he launched the national schools selection exercise.

It is not clear whether the same trend will be witnessed among the 26 new national schools that were allowed to make their selection for the first this year.

The quota system favouring public schools has helped to open the door to relatively low performers to gain access to elite schools.

For example, although Kenya High took the highest candidate nationally with 441 marks, it also took some low performers. The last candidate selected to the school scored 268 marks.

She was from Lamu East District. The lowest candidate to be selected to any of the 78 older national schools scored 200 marks, much less that the half mark in all the five subjects sat in the KCPE.

The maximum marks a candidate can score is 500.

Launching the selection exercise, Prof Kaimenyi failed to show the number of candidates selected from either public or private schools.

The move prompted the private schools association to protest, claiming there could have been a hidden motive. “Up to now, we are neither aware of the criteria used in the selection nor the number of students picked from private schools,” Kenya Private Schools Association Chief Executive Peter Ndoro said. “We have not been given information at all.”

There had also been concern over the accuracy of the selection after the ministry took longer than anticipated to post the results on its website. By yesterday evening, there were still changes being made on the website, meaning they could show different results by tomorrow.

Last week, Kaimenyi had said the results could be available on the website immediately but the updates were still ongoing yesterday.

The results show that private schools took the lion’s share of places in Utumishi Academy and Moi Forces Academy, Lanet schools. Unlike other years, the ministry is now posting online the list of selected pupils to national schools, extra-county, county and sub-county schools.

Of last year’s candidates, 756,283 sat their examination in public schools, constituting 85 per cent. Some 131,975 (15 per cent) sat their examination in private schools, Kaimenyi said.

In all, 695,684 will be selected to join secondary schools available across the country. Kaimenyi defended the system he used to select candidates to Form One, saying it was guided by the constitutional principles of equity and fairness.

“We have over the years endeavoured to develop a system that guarantees every Kenyan child a fair chance of placement,” he said of the selection. “Selection is thus based on clearly defined parameters that include merit, candidate’s choice and district quota computed on the basis of the sub-county’s candidature strength.”

He said this year’s selection “benefited from lessons learnt from past practice”, and “it is our intention to build on the gains of past selection to to perfect current and future selection process”.

But Ndoro has opposed the selection of pupils based on schools they attended, adding they were not opposed to the selection of students based on the quota system, as long as the interest of the pupil was upheld, and not the schools’.

Needs-based “We don’t want a selection that looks at a candidate as coming from a public or private school,” he said, adding “we want selection based on how needy a pupil is”.

He threatened that private schools would consider withdrawing their schools from being examination centres and just let them be learning centres, meaning the candidates would then have to be registered elsewhere.

Kaimenyi has not responded to the private schools’ wishes. Ndoro argued that last year, pupils from private schools were allocated 4,000 places in national schools against 17,000 available slots, which translated to only about 25 per cent allocation.

Form One students are expected to report to their schools from February 2. Standard - Sunday, January 25, 2015

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