Hue and cry over Form 1 selection

Outcry greeted Form One selection after it transpired that a large number of students who scored more than 400 marks at KCPE have missed out on their choice of secondary schools.

The students and their parents are now querying the criteria used to select students to top national and county schools. Albert Ochieng from Siaya County, who scored 407 marks has not secured a place in either a national school or an extra-county school.

Ochieng, who sat his KCPE exam at Karapul Primary School, has been selected to join Ramba Boys’, a county school, despite having wanted to join Alliance, Maranda, Lenana or Maseno High schools.

In Kakamega, former Lubinu Primary School pupil Witney Nyachoti got 412 marks, but could not secure a place in either Kenya High, Alliance, Moi Girls or Loreto — her national school choices.

She has been selected to join Sacred Heart Mukumu Girls, an extra- county school.

Shelmith Nyagoha from Vihiga County scored 384 marks at Chavigani Primary School, but has not been selected by any national school.

In Mombasa, Michael Oduor, who scored 407 marks, has been selected to join a sub-county (formerly harambee) school — Mrima Secondary School — in Likoni Constituency.

Davis Mwebi, who scored 403 marks from Ekerubo Gietai ELCK Boarding Primary School in Nyamira North district, has been selected to join Menyenya SDA Secondary School, an extra county mixed institution in Borabu District.

He had picked Maseno and Kisii schools.

“Children had high hopes of joining top schools... it never occurred to them that they will end up at county (formerly district) schools. The children are the most affected with this whole process,” said Ms Maureen Muchei, a parent.

Ms Muchei’s daughter scored 350 marks and has been invited to join a county school in Kakamega.

“My daughter was hoping to pursue a career in medicine or engineering, but now she may never realise her dream. She is disappointed with the selection exercise.”

Only 5,584 pupils scored over 400 marks in last year’s KCPE and parents are asking why some were not picked for the 20,000 slots in national schools.
During the 2014 KCPE examination, 55,491 candidates scored between 351 and 399 marks.


Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi Tuesday defended the Form One selection criteria that has attracted praise and criticism in equal measure across the country, with secondary school freshers set to report to their schools from Monday.

Prof Kaimenyi asked parents and students not to segregate schools. “The government intention is to make all secondary schools operate at the same level so that we end this belief that there are inferior and superior schools,” he told Daily Nation.

He defended the selection process through which students with as little as 210 marks can get coveted national school slots, while those with much higher marks miss out, saying such students were the best where they came from and therefore fully merit their places.

He said the government
intention is to categorise schools as day, boarding and special secondary schools in future.

Prof Kaimenyi said the selection was 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.

The method is weighted to favour rural areas at the expense of big towns and public school at the expense of private schools.

“It is a process where every child, irrespective of their socio-economic background, is assured of placement informed by the above parameters. Whereas the present selection has immensely benefited from lessons learned from past practice, it is our intention to build on the gains of past selection to perfect current and future selection processes,” he added.


However, even children with high marks from public schools have lost out. Several parents who were disappointed with the exercise are now moving from one school to another seeking a chance for their children.

The Kenya Private Schools Association has threatened to move to court next week to stop the process, saying it is unfair to their pupils. Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndoro said private schools had only been allocated 22 per cent of places across the board.

Mr Ndoro charged that the government was not just out to achieve affirmative action, but to deny some children an opportunity to study in their preferred schools.

“We have resolved to move to court as we believe that this is discrimination against children in private schools.

“For instance, in Kangemi Primary School, a child with more than 350 marks could not get a national school and those slots were taken up by children from elite government schools in Nairobi,” said Mr Ndoro.

Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers Chairman Omboko Milemba said the selection is unfair and denies deserving children an opportunity to join schools of their choice.

“The government should cancel the exercise and start it afresh. It is unfair to deny a child who scores more than 400 marks an opportunity to join a national school and give the same opportunity to a candidate who scored 200 marks,” said Mr Milemba. Nation - Tuesday, January 27, 2015.

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