Release information to improve learning

The Education Ministry lived up to its pledge not to rank candidates or schools in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination, whose results were released on Monday.

For the first time in many years, the public was starved of the fanfare of exam results release, and for good reason.

To a large extent, there has been concern that ranking had promoted unethical practices and reduced exams to a rat race where a few elite schools posted the best results and hogged the media limelight as their top candidates were feted publicly.

What was even more worrying was that some schools resorted to dubious practices such as forcing weak candidates to repeat classes or registering them in satellite centres so that they do not pull down the school’s mean grade.

Coaching and drilling of candidates became the norm, with children being forced to report to school early, leave late, and learn throughout the weekend and holidays.

The end result was a stressful system that created robot-like learners who were only good at regurgitating material rammed down their throats without distilling and critically examining the facts.

Yet ranking per se is not the problem; what is, is the perversion of the practice.

So we found ourselves in the unenviable position of having to throw out a practice because it had been bastardised and commercialised.

Even so, it is disappointing that in implementing the policy, the ministry denied the public vital information on the examinations.

Ranking of schools is one component of the examination results, but there are other essential statistics and information normally provided during the release. This information was not given out this time round.


Examinations, whether summative or formative, serve to provide feedback on the extent of learning.

For that reason, information such as performance in subjects or by gender or regions is important in addressing weaknesses in the learning process.

For example, there has been concern about poor performance in some subjects, or by girls, or some regions and the consequence is that interventions are required to redress the imbalances.

Without such information, it is difficult to mount appropriate measures and the problem is likely to continue to fester.

So, when Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi directed that investigations be carried out to establish why some counties registered high gender disparity, it is useful only to the extent that one is dealing with access.

However, there are other variables such as quality, performance, and transition, which were left out, although they are equally critical in assessing the efficacy of an education system.

More fundamentally, access to information is a constitutional imperative. When the ministry denies the public basic and crucial information that it needs to make decisions on the children’s schooling, then it falls short of the legal expectation.

Inasmuch as the ministry has valid reasons for stopping ranking of schools and candidates, it must provide other variables for evaluating quality.

Withholding information from the public is unacceptable in this day and age. In the final analysis, examinations are as much tools for selection and placement as they are for determining learning outcomes. - Nation Editorial, Monday December 29, 2014.

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Ranking was unfair to majority of candidates and schools
by: Anonymous

I laud the Ministry of Education for banning ranking in national exams.

It is unfortunate that out of hundreds of thousands of candidates, only top 100 candidates from about 100 schools in about 10 counties used to be ranked and glorified during the highly publicised event.

They were the "lucky few" who would enjoy the media limelight and publicity. The list usually ended with the rock bottom candidates, obviously to shame them.

As such, the majority of the candidates — over 880,000 from over 20,000 schools in the case of the just released KCPE exam results would never be mentioned and would never be glorified.

The most effective means of assessing educational outcome and evaluating performance of learners is to make individual learners compete against themselves.

Let teachers guide learners to improve their grades continually and prepare for careers according to their ability, talent and choices.

And now that ranking has been scrapped, the Ministry of Education should consider phasing out the publicity that has often accompanied the release of exam results.

To ensure standards and quality of education, the national and county governments should work together to improve infrastructure and employ more teachers.


Ban on exam ranking is a reward to cheating cartels at Knec
by: Anonymous

The move by the Ministry of Education not to announce the top performers and rank them as has been the tradition is not only hypocritical but also unjustifiable.

Candidates cheat not because they want to achieve fame through media publicity but because cheating is a deeply entrenched culture in the education sector.

For years, officials of Kenya National Examinations Council have been implicitly blamed for the massive examination irregularities witnessed in almost every corner of the country.

Truth is corruption and a culture of runaway impunity is to blame for cheating and blatant defilement of exam regulations.

The government is literarily running away from the charging bull. It need not be cowed and cajoled by seasoned cartels responsible for leaking and distribution of questions and answers months before annual national tests.

The ministry and Knec must brace up, clean up their mess and put their house in order before it is too late.

Genuine academic excellence must be exalted and properly rewarded — including by publicising the names of sons and daughters of Kenya who have excelled.

It is unfortunate that one can hardly measure the intelligence of young Kenyans by their KCPE or KCSE results.


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