Forget it, boys performed better than girls in this year’s exams

Parents and teachers of Riokindo Boys celebrate with Joash Ogero in their school compound on 21/12/2017..Ogero managed an A minus in the KCSE exam. (Sammy Omingo, Standard)
Girls took six of the top 10 positions in this year's Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination, but they were still outperformed by boys.

An analysis of examination data debunks the myth that girls performed better than boys in this year’s examination, according to a narrative fronted by the Education Ministry.

It also casts doubts on the ministry's assertion that this year's performance was better than last year's.

Top 100

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Available data shows that girls only posted a significant edge over boys in the top 10 positions.

Overall, boys dominated the top 100 positions. Out of the top 100 candidates, 54 were boys and 46 were girls.

The number of girls who qualified to join university dropped by 43 per cent in 2017 compared to last year.

Official examination data shows that only 28,386 girls score C+ and above, which is the minimum grade required for university entry, down from the 50,415 who qualified last year.

On the flip-side, boys seemed to bounce back from their performance last year after the number that qualified grew by 8 per cent from 38,514 last year to 41,687.

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An analysis according to grade shows that boys beat girls in all the top six grades. Available data shows that 61 girls scored grade A compared to the boys' 81.

Ahead of girls

Though there was a significant drop in the number of candidates who scored A- this year compared to last year, boys still raced ahead of girls. There were twice as many boys who scored A- compared to girls. A total of 1,813 boys scored A- compared to 901 girls.

The trend seems to be maintained in the other top grades as 4,596 boys score B+ compared to 2,748 girls. Grade B was shared by 7,738 boys and 4,890 girls, while 11,631 boys scored grade B- compared to 7,754 girls.

C+ grades

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Boys still led girls in the number of  C+ grades, posting 15,828 against girls' 12,032. The trend is replicated in all the other grades.

More girls scored A grades this year compared to last year. In 2016, out of the 141 As, girls got 58 while boys got 83.

Overall, there is no statistic to back the narrative that girls performed better than boys in the examination.

Although girls performed better than boys in six of the subjects offered, boys performed better in 23 of the subjects.

Girls did better than boys in English, Kiswahili, CRE, home science, art, and design and electricity.

Overall performance

Although the Education Ministry argued that this year's performance was better than last year's, a closer look at the results shows that 70 per cent of the candidates scored mean grade D and below.

This was a drop from the 65 per cent last year. A total of 438,914 candidates scored D and below compared to about 376,414 last year. 

The number of candidates who qualified for university this year fell by 18,000 compared to last year. The data shows that the number of those who qualified shrunk by 21 per cent to 70,073 compared to 88,929 who made the cut in 2016.

The drop is expected to generate concern among private universities, which will have a smaller pool to pick from next year after public universities admit the bulk of the candidates who score C+ and above.

County performance

The data shows that only 18 counties had a candidate in the top 100 positions. This means that 29 counties did not have a candidate among the top best-performing students.

Kiambu County, which is home to some of the best performing schools, took the lions share of the top 100 slots with 31 candidates. It was followed by Nairobi County (20), Nakuru (nine), and Uasin Gishu (eight).

Between them, Nairobi and Kiambu took 50 per cent of the top 100 positions.

Total numbers

Boys still dominated the examination in terms of total number of candidates. Soeme 611,952 candidates sat the examination this year compared to 574,125 in 2016.

Of these, 315,630 were male and 296,322 were female.

“This is an indication that the country is on the right path towards achieving gender parity in examinations enrollment at secondary school level,” said Dr Matiang’i.

[Additional report by Graham Kajilwa]

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KCSEeducation cs fred matiang'ikcse 2017 results2017 kcse