Teachers want review of varsity entry grade

Students from Mukurwe-ini Secondary School in Nyeri on their way home after completing the Kenya Secondary of Certificate Education Exams on 22,2018. [Photo:Kibata kihu/Standard]

A teachers’ union has recommended that university entry grades be reviewed to reflect declining performance as marking of this year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams got underway.

The recommendation in a report by the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) is informed by an assessment of KCSE exam performance trends from 2014 to last year, which found a steady decline in top grades and a growing number of poor grades.

The union expressed concern about the implication of the falling grades, which meant that over the years fewer students have qualified to join university. The minimum entry grade is C+.

“A drop in university student placement of 18,856 giving a 21 per cent drop is quite significant in terms of wastage of available vacancies in public universities. There is need for a review of university placement to match performance to reduce wastage of resources,” stated the report.

 Dismal performance

It was referring to last year’s dismal performance that saw the lowest number (70,073) of students admitted to public universities, down from 88,929 the previous year.

Overall, public and private universities have a combined capacity of 160,000 students.

The details are contained in the Kuppet report dubbed Assessment of 2016 and 2017 KCSE Performance and its Social Economic Impact in Kenya.

Kuppet Secretary General Akelo Misori said the report findings would be the subject of discussion at the union’s annual general meeting next month.

“We are concerned by the annual trend of poor grades and we have made strong recommendations on examination administration, marking and proper processing of results based on available facts,” said Mr Misori.

Going by the trends in the past four years, fewer candidates will meet the minimum university entry qualification considering that supervision of this year’s KCSE has been more enhanced and the examination council has promised stricter marking.

“We shall ensure marking is fair to all. But those who attempted to infiltrate the examinations will be nabbed at marking,” said Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) Chairman George Magoha

The Kuppet report, dated October 2018, reviewed KCSE performance for 2016 and 2017, which recorded mass failure that triggered national outrage and a court case to demand the release of marked scripts – a case that will be decided by the High Court on Thursday.

The union report traced the performance trend since 2014 and projected that the number of candidates who scored the minimum university entry grade of C+ and above could reduce yet again this year.

In 2014, the data recorded the highest number of students (3,042) with grade A.

The number reduced to 2,685 in 2015 and only 141 candidates scoring the top grade in 2016. Last year, 142 managed grade A.

And 2014 recorded the highest number of candidates who managed the minimum university grade of C+ and above, with some 159,370 posting the score.

In 2015, the figure rose to 169,492­, then dropped to 88,929 in 2016.

Last year, only 70,073 of the 611,952 candidates attained the grade.

The number of poor grades candidates score each year for the past four years has caused concern.

Overall, the report said the number of candidates who posted grade D to E over the past three years was 908,378.

“The question arises, does this need to be discovered after 12 years of investment in education?” asked the Kuppet report.

In 2014, some 128,885 students scored grade D and below, representing 26.9 per cent of the total number of candidates.

The report also said that in 2015, some 133,736 out of 522,870 candidates obtained the grade while in 2016, 295,463 of 571,161 posted the grade.

And last year, some 350,467 candidates out of 615,772 obtained grade D (plain) and below.

The Kuppet report said grade E was on the rise in the Form Four national examination results.

In 2014, some 5,610 candidates managed grade E, with some 5,333 scoring the grade in 2015.

The number shot up in 2016 and 2017, with 33,399 and 35,536 respectively posting the grade.

The Kenya National Qualifications Authority has set D as the entry grade for all certificate courses. The authority also set C– (minus) as the minimum diploma entry grade.

“Where do the close to one million students go?” asked Misori.

This year’s KCSE examination officially comes to an end today, with reports indicating that the results of the more than 660,000 candidates would out in three weeks.

Prof Magoha said only 150 candidates would write the last papers today, ending the month-long exercise