Ranking of Counties in KCSE Exams Useless?

A smaller number of candidates pushed up marginalised and arid counties in national KCSE ranking, helping them to trounce economic giants like Nairobi, Kiambu, Kajiado and Nyeri.


According to the Kenya National Examinations Council, Samburu was the best performing county. However, a closer analysis reveals that it neither has any candidate in the top 100 nationally nor any top-ranked school.

Siaya, Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot and Trans Nzoia completed the list of best-performing counties. But it is all a numbers game. Because counties are ranked on the average performance of all its students, regions with fewer candidates got an advantage over the more populous — and prosperous — ones.

Eight of the top 10 counties registered less than 10,000 candidates, numbers that could have helped them to tilt the scales upwards even without a sterling performance from individual students.

The counties are ranked based on averages of performance index of all their candidates. This means those with fewer numbers stand a good chance of being ranked higher if their students perform above average.

It also means that counties with smaller numbers are likely to have fewer students in every class allowing teachers to have individual attention leading to better performance.

Samburu — which was ranked position one nationally — only registered 969 candidates, 25 times less than those registered in Kiambu. Samburu county had only 16 examination centres.

Kiambu on the other hand, had the highest number of candidates among the 47 counties — 24,268. It was ranked 37, beating only 10 other counties.

However, the top school in Kiambu, Alliance High, was the best school in the country and had 22 students in the list of the top 100.

The school also monopolised all the top positions in the county, a trend that was observed in other big schools.

Despite emerging tops, Samburu did not have a single candidate among the top 100. So was the case in most of the top 10 counties including Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot, Bomet and Embu.

In the results released on Monday, the Rift Valley region, whose counties registered fewer candidates, dominated the top slots.

Elgeyo Marakwet which had 5,285 candidates emerged third, followed by West Pokot and Trans Nzoia counties. The two counties had 3,369 and 8,606 candidates respectively.

Happy with the results, Trans Nzoia Governor Patrick Khaemba said he would improve infrastructure in schools.

"Additional funds will be put in place to have more classrooms and motivate teachers to continue posting excellent results," he said.

However, there were counties like Tana River which had less than 1,000 candidates but still came last, meaning that hard work was also required to rank highly.

Siaya, which was ranked second among counties, was the only one with more than 10,000 candidates. It had 11,259.

Bomet was ranked sixth with 9,295 candidates followed in seventh position by Kisumu, which had a 12,741 candidates.

Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto said his government would build at least two day-mixed secondary schools in each of the county’s 25 wards to enable more children from disadvantaged families access quality education at an affordable cost.

"My government will make sure that infrastructure in both public primary and secondary schools is developed to ensure improved academic performance in the region," he said.

Busia, which was ranked eighth had 7,169 candidates followed by Embu, which had 7,904 candidates.

Uasin Gishu County was 10th with 9,854 candidates.

Counties with many candidates appeared to have suffered under the tyranny of numbers with regions such as Kiambu, Nakuru (22,656) and Kakamega (20,996) fairing badly.

Nakuru was ranked 19th while Kakamega emerged position 15. Kisii with 19,345 was ranked position 25.

Unlike other counties, Kiambu is home to several national schools – Loreto Limuru, Mang’u, Limuru Girls, Alliance Girls and Mary Hill Girls.

Alliance produced the best performer, Tom Wanderi King’ori, who had an index of 87.110. It also posted the best results in Geography and Business Studies.

Counties from the Coast and North Eastern were ranked among the poorest performers.

Tana River was ranked at the bottom after Mandera, Lamu, Wajir, Garissa, Kwale, Kilifi, Isiolo, Mombasa and Taita Taveta which ranked just one notch below Kiambu.

The poor ranking is an indication that hard work is still important in determining performance.

Indeed, principals of leading schools and emerging giants yesterday told the Nation that team work, adequate preparation, character building and a firm religious foundation were among the factors that influenced their success.


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