For the first time in decades the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exam results were released from a venue outside Nairobi.
And for the first time, the results were released the same year the examination was written.
Results for last year’s KCSE were released in March this year.
According to Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang, the results were unveiled yesterday, one day short of “exactly one month when the last examination was completed”.
Those at Shimo la Tewa Secondary School were exuberant, after it was revealed that Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i was to arrive at the institution to unveil the exam results. Security was beefed up as guests began to arrive.
Crowds gathered outside the institution to catch a glimpse of Dr Matiang’i, who has acquired fame from the manner he has handled national examinations and reformed the education sector.
But the mood at the school soon turned somewhat sombre after choirs were done with entertainment and several officials had given speeches, which set the mood for the CS’ earth shattering pronouncements.
Initially, there were reports the results would be unveiled at State House, Mombasa, where the CS and his entourage met President Uhuru Kenyatta who has been vacationing on the Kenyan coast since Christmas eve.
Speeches and entertainment at yesterday’s function were unusually short and were punctuated by sharp statements, frank remarks and warnings from Matiang’i and chairman of the Kenya National Examinations Council George Magoha.
Teachers’ union officials did not give speeches yesterday because none of them was present. Reports indicate that the officials were not invited to the function in advance.
At the end of the speeches and in spite of the CS and Magoha’s withering speeches, the crowd at the school’s hall erupted in loud applause, partly out of shock, awe and happiness separately or in combination.
Prof Magoha set the tone for what the CS was to announce when he denounced what he described as a “stupid” mentality based on an obsession with grade A, the highest in KCSE.
He told the crowd there was no magic in scoring an A and that there was no guarantee that those who scored the grade were smart.
He suggested there was something suspect in previous A scores when he declared: “How can one score an A in mathematics and be unable to complete a course in engineering?”
The CS equally suggested that previous high scores in some schools and past examinations were suspect. Officials openly gasped or cupped their faces in anticipation as the CS delivered his remarks.
The function ended within 80 minutes, a marked departure from the annual ritual which used to take hours at the Education ministry headquarters in Nairobi.
Despite the “shock” results” indicating a dramatic reduction in As, the crowd erupted in applause and mobbed the CS and Magoha at the end of their speeches.