The Ministry of Education has introduced a cluster system to facilitate Standard Eight candidates’ admission to secondary schools of their choice.
In the fresh list provided by the ministry, some secondary schools have also been elevated to extra-county status. Each candidate will be expected to select a maximum number of schools from each of the five listed categories.
The categories are national, extra-county, county and sub-county schools. Candidates with disabilities will also pick an institution from a list of special schools.
All extra-county schools have been collapsed into three clusters based on their performance over the last five years. It is understood that this was informed by the fact that this category had only 540 schools in the last four years.
An additional 173 schools were upgraded from county status based on their performance over a long period. And for fairness in selection, reports from the ministry show that it became necessary to cluster the schools to allow each student to make an informed choice.
Candidates are expected to select 11 schools – national (four), extra-county (three; one from each cluster), county (two) and sub-county (two).
Students with disabilities can pick one more school from a list of special/integrated institutions.
“Since they will have to choose three extra-county schools, it means they may only choose one from each cluster,” explained Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang.
This year 1,088,986 candidates will sit the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations.
Further details show that the number of county schools went up from 1,025 to 1,424. This was achieved by elevating 399 boarding schools that had sub-county status.
The clustering or list for national schools has not changed. However, the five schools that pre-select their students will still identify candidates based on their institutions’ internal criteria.
Starehe Boys Centre and School, Starehe Girls Centre and School, Moi Forces Academy (Nairobi), Moi Forces Academy (Lanet) and Utumishi Academy normally give priority to children from needy backgrounds.
“Besides that, the students must have chosen the schools as their first choice,” read the guidelines.
For Starehe Boys and Girls Centres, candidates will also be required to fill out a yellow form from the schools by July 31.
The finer details of secondary school selection emerged as Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha opened a window for candidates to revise their choices of institutions.
Prof Magoha directed the Kenya National Examinations Council to immediately allow candidates who were already registered to revise their Form One choices.
He said some candidates wished to revise their selection choices in Term Two after assessing their likely performance in the KCPE examinations based on class assignments.
A circular released last week now directs candidates to align their choices to the list of schools provided.
“Candidates should pay attention to the clustering of extra-county schools into three categories. Some county schools have been upgraded to extra-county, while sub-county schools have been elevated to county schools,” reads the circular by Dr Kipsang.
The 2019 guidelines require each candidate to pick only one school per group. “Students are advised to choose the most competitive schools as choice number one. Clusters do not represent competitiveness of a school.”
Candidates will be expected to pick from 103 national schools.
Extra-county schools are boarding institutions that admit only 60 per cent of their candidates from the host county.
Moi Tea Girls, which falls under the category, will pre-select its students.
Under the first extra-county cluster, candidates will pick Form One spaces from a list of 332 schools. Under the second cluster, there are 208 schools while there are 198 institutions under cluster three.
County schools, on the other hand, select all their students from the host county.
“A candidate is expected to choose two schools from the list provided. Choosing a county school outside the candidate’s county will disadvantage him or her,” read the guidelines.
Candidates will select spaces from 198 county schools.
And for sub-county schools that admit students who commute from home, the guidelines state that admittance is for students from the host sub-county.
“Such schools serve a certain locality that might include neighbouring sub-counties. Students will be required to select two schools from this category.”
There are 6,715 schools listed in this category.
Students with disabilities will also have a chance to select from a list of 33 special and 76 integrated schools.
“These schools have been categorised according to disability. The selection to the school is national but there are some schools that are integrated,” read the guidelines.
Kipsang said candidates not living with disability must not pick schools from this category.