Coast schools improve despite insecurity

By Standard Team

The widespread and persistent security lapse at the Coast last year did little to stop pupils from posting better results in last year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams.

The region, which has witnessed bloody skirmishes in the Tana Delta and further sporadic attacks linked to outlawed Mombasa Republican Council secessionist group, posted a slight improvement, with three candidates featuring among the country’s top performers.

Most counties showed marginal improvement, jumping from the bottom of the table where they featured in 2011. Private schools however posted the best results in the Coastal counties. In Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River and Lamu Counties, no public school  made it to the top  five  best performers in each of the Counties.

In Mombasa, Victory Mombasa Academy led the pack with a mean score of 364. Other leading schools included Mwatate Junior Preparatory school in Taita Taveta (350), St Mercy Academy from Kwale (347), Tahdhib from Kilifi with 382 mean score and Mpeketoni Good Shepherd of Lamu with  310  points.

The results for most counties shows that poor performance in areas like Kilifi was attributed to non-performing older pupils while most of the best candidates in many counties were from the so-called non-indigenous parentage.

But Mombasa County’s performance shocked many, as it dropped in national rankings from position 15 in 2011 to 35. But Tana River and Kwale, which have been torn with insecurity improved.

Mwatsahu James scored 423 marks to take position 22, Simpao Moses Saruni ranked 45 nationally after scoring 421 marks, while Agina Tito Mugavana scored 419 marks and was ranked 92 nationally. No girl from the province was ranked among Kenya’s best 100 candidates.

In a slight improvement, five counties Kwale, Lamu, Kilifi, Taita Taveta and Tana River Counties escaped the credential of being ranked lowest at the 2011 examinations.

Tana River, which was last in 2011, was position 44 in 2012, while Kwale, which was 46 in 2011 jumped to 43. Kilifi moved from position 43 in 2011 to 40 in 2012, with a slightly improved mean score. Taita Taveta was ranked 41, having been position 45 in 2011. 

Three students, two boys and a girl tied at position one nationally, each with 430 points in the 2012 Kenya National Certificate of Primary Education. The boys, Mwaura Bonface Kiongo and Wachira Njomo both come from Kiambu County. The national champion Kinoti Joy Kithure, who also topped in the girls category, is from Fred’s academy in Meru County.

Following them was Muteti Klevin Mwangangi of Machakos County and Kindiki Dan Muthomi of Meru County, both tying in position four, with 429 points.

Five out of ten top Counties in the examination results are from the Rift Valley Province, led by Elgeyo Marakwet in position two with a mean grade of 273 followed by Nandi, Uasin Gishu, and Baringo in that order, then West Pokot in the ninth position. 

The latest results, the last in President Kibaki’s 10-year rule, which began with introduction of free primary education, saw the government edge closer to attaining gender parity.

However, once again private schools or academies, which are endowed with better facilities and learning environment but at an extra cost to parents, continued to outpace public schools.

Improved scores

The top mark scored by the three top students was however 12 points lower compared to 2011’s where the leading candidate scored 442 marks. But Education minister Mutula Kilonzo termed the results a ‘significant improvement’ from the previous years. He said the number of candidates who scored 250 marks and above had increased from the previous year.

Masters Mwangangi and Muthomi of Meru County at position four were only one mark ahead of Shalom Nthenya Mulinge of Nairobi County who scored 428, posting the third best top mark.

Other candidates who managed to be in the top ten list were Kanji Bhanderi Nikun, Maina Doughlas Gichohi and Gitamo Audrey Kemunto, who scored 427 marks. The three come from Meru, Laikipia and Nairobi Counties respectively.

There was also a tie in the tenth position with Muriga Veronica Wairimu and Shihemi Kelvin Witila, both from Nairobi County, scoring 426 marks to close the top ten category.

Of the 11 top students who constituted the top ten best performers, there were four girls and seven boys.

Kilonzo said overall, boys had 51.2 per cent against 48.9 per cent for girls in 2012. “This is the closest we have been towards achieving gender parity in KCPE Examination in 10 years,” the minister said.

On County performance, Kirinyanga, which did not produce a single candidate in the top ten category, emerged the best with a mean score of 273.

Mandera was ranked bottom, with a mean score of 182, followed closely by Garissa, Wajir, Tana River and Kwale Counties in that order.

Kilonzo however termed this year’s performance as a ‘major improvement’ in an examination where cases of irregularities were tremendously reduced.

The minister said of the 811,930 candidates who sat for the 2012 KCPE examination, only 718 in 41 centres were involved in cheating.

He said this is a significant drop, representing some 0.09 per cent of the total candidature, compared to 7,967 candidates involved in 2011.

The minister attributed the improvement to the enactment of the Kenya national Examination Council Bill that spelt stringent penalties for cheats. Already, he said, some 88 persons, including candidates and teachers, were arrested after contravening the Act and have been charged in Court.

KNEC secretary Paul Wasanga said some 2,155 candidates scored 400 marks and above.

Another 188, 475 candidates scored 300 marks and above. A total of 186, 962 scored below 200 marks.

Wasanga however defended KCPE examinations, saying they are only meant to assist in secondary schools placement. “KCPE result only tells the country how the candidates have performed to assist in placement in the available secondary schools with the top candidates being placed in National Schools,” he said.

But even as senior education officials gathered to release the examinations, candidates who passed may have to wait longer to know their secondary schools.

Contrary to parents’ and private schools’ expectations, Kilonzo pushed Form One selection to Monday, next week.

This means that parents will still be home with their children the whole of this week and the next.

It also means private schools may conduct the selection exercise a week after next, because they do the selection after the government side.