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Secondary bridging courses underway

By | December 30th 2010
By | December 30th 2010

By Standard Reporter

Candidates who fail to attain the Form One pass mark will soon have the option of a pre-secondary bridging course instead of repeating Standard Eight or dropping out altogether.

The news of the additional tier in Kenya’s education structure broke as it emerged close to 200,000 candidates who sat KCPE this year have no chance of joining Form One because of the limited vacancies and their dismal performance. It is with this annual haemorrhage in the education system in mind that the Education Ministry began working on a strategy to reduce the number of children churned out from primary to secondary school due to poor grades.

Education Permanent Secretary Prof James ole Kiyapi yesterday revealed his ministry would soon introduce two-year bridging course at primary school level to serve as alternative passage for those who do not automatically qualify to join secondary schools. The bad news, however, is that this would not benefit the 2010 KCPE candidates and may take two more years before it is in place.

The PS revealed fresh reforms that would soon be introduced in the education sector would include the bridging level course.

The reforms aim to restructure the education sector to conform to the new Constitution.

"KCPE will be an entrance exam to this bridging level for those who do not get marks that give them proficiency to go to Form One. They will delay for one or two years at this level before proceeding to secondary school," Kiyapi explained.

He revealed the proposed new level could be named either ‘senior primary’ or ‘junior high’ depending on the choice the ministry will pick. However, those who score 100 points or less, would not benefit from this arrangement.

Kiyapi said this group of poor performers have to be ready to go back to Class Seven since their performance is an indication they were not yet ready for secondary education.

"Repeating is a real option (for those who score very poorly) and this should be considered," said Kiyapi, adding that repeating from Class Seven is the best option since the final years are usually meant for revision purposes.

Kiyapi made the comments as he announced that 25 per cent, or 186,520, of the 746,080 pupils who sat this year’s KCPE will not be admitted to secondary school because they scored below 200 points.

However, the number of those to miss Form One this year is lower than those who did so last year. In 2009, some 241,121 students or 33 per cent, who sat the national examination did not make it to secondary school and were forced to seek further education or trade and artisan courses in village and other youth polytechnics. A total of 727,054 sat the KCPE examination in 2009. Also joining the list of those who will not get a place in secondary school are the 1,103 whose results were cancelled after they were found to have engaged in examination irregularities.

It is still not clear what will befall the cheats as the proposal to bar them from sitting any examination for two years was rescinded.

The PS also announced the Government was also exploring ways of "horizontal advancement" by opening up opportunities in youth polytechnics and talent academies for candidates who do not make it to Form One. "But this will be in the future since the Government is not yet ready to go this way," Kiyapi added.

While releasing the 2010 KCPE results on Tuesday, Education Minister Prof Sam Ongeri said only 539,792 candidates would transit to secondary schools next year, translating to 72.5 per cent. "With this, it is worth noting that we have gone beyond the Millennium Development Goals mark of 70 per cent and we are poised to achieve the 100 per cent transition by the set target of 2015," said the PS in an interview yesterday.

University level

The PS said the Government would strive to expand five or six levels of horizontal progression after secondary level for those who do not make it up the ladder to university level.

"Right now it is unfortunate because we do not have 100 per cent transition rate even though we have done better than other countries," said Kiyapi.

This year’s results were released amidst calls for review of the quota system that education officials use to admit students to secondary school.

Secondary school principals, through their chairman, Mr Cleophas Tirop have been campaigning for abolition of the system, which they described as self-defeating, especially following creation of many new districts by President Kibaki.

Under the system, each district is supposed to send at least one candidate to national schools in an attempt to give them a national character. But the rapid spiral in the number of districts has worsened matters and distorted the formula of allocation of places in public schools, especially the national and provincial, given the sheer number of the new district units, which now stand at over 270.

Worse still, there has not been a corresponding increase in the number of schools within the administrative units and at the national category.

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