National schools to take more candidates as selection starts

Teachers, parents, and pupils celebrate the performance of KCPE 2019 candidates at Maryjoy Kindergarten & Primary School in Mombasa. The school’s 60 candidates posted a mean score of 339.4, an improvement from the previous year’s score of 335. [Maarufu Mohamed, Standard]

The scramble for top slots in the country’s national schools kicked off yesterday, as senior Ministry of Education staff retreated to fine-tune the selection criteria.

Over the years, only candidates who score 400 marks and above are guaranteed slots in national schools. But with only 9,770 candidates attaining the grade this year against a declared capacity of 30,000, more slots will be up for grabs.

Data released by the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) reveal that a total of 253,000 candidates scored 300 marks and above.

Quality grades

This means that these candidates who also posted quality grades will scramble for the remaining 20,000 slots in national schools. The Ministry may lower the national schools entry grade to slightly below 400 marks to take in more candidates in addition to other selection criteria.

The selection of candidates to extra-county schools is based on a 20:40:40 ratio, to be shared across the host sub-county, the host county, and other counties, respectively.

The available slots in county schools are shared out between sub-counties on a 20:80 ratio, spread across the host sub-county and the rest of the sub-counties.

All candidates for sub-county schools are selected from the host sub-county based on merit and choice. These criteria are applied regardless of whether candidates sat KCPE in private or public schools.

There are also 35 special needs education (SNE) secondary schools with a total capacity of about 1,500 slots, according to ministry data.

Pre-selection for SNEs, Starehe Boys and Starehe Girls, Moi Forces Academy (Nairobi and Lanet), Utumishi Academy and Moi Tea Girls is done separately.

The Standard established that national schools’ capacities may go up this year as it emerged that the total capacity in secondary schools increased to 1.1 million. Last year, there were only 1.05 million spaces available in public and private schools in the country.

A status of selection report for 2019 reveals that there were 123,399 spaces in the 531 extra-county schools. There were also 142,358 available Form One slots available across 1,031 county schools.

And in sub-county schools, Ministry data revealed that there were 685,590 spaces across the 7,325 institutions. Sources in the Ministry said that the available secondary school spaces have been expanded this year to accommodate more students.

Basic Education PS Belio Kipsang said the government, along with other partners, has set aside Sh8 billion to improve school infrastructure in 110 sub-counties across 30 counties to accommodate all students.


Huge battle

The huge battle, however, will be among the 9,770 candidates for slots in the traditional 18 national schools.

These are Starehe Boys, Starehe Girls, Alliance Boys, Alliance Girls, Lenana School, Kenya High School, MaryHill Girls, Loreto Limuru, Limuru Girls, Mang’u High School, Maseno School, Nairobi School, Moi Forces Academy, Moi Forces Lanet, Nakuru Girls, Utumishi Academy, Moi Girls Eldoret and Nakuru Boys.

Data compiled by The Standard on candidates who scored 418 marks and above gives an indication of how schools will share these coveted slots.

For instance, High Peak will send at least 43 candidates to national schools, as Makini School and Kathigiri B send more than 24. Lions School will send at least 21 candidates, while Mwiki Good Hope, Sukari Presbyterian, Lizar Junior School and Kitengela International will send about 18 each.

Father Schether School, Magadi Soda School, and Moi Kabarak will each send at least 17 candidates.