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Alarm as 12,000 candidates fail to sit for KCPE exams

By Augustine Oduor | April 24th 2021

Pupils of Fadhili Junior School in Nairobi celebrate KCPE results. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

About 12,000 candidates did not sit the 2020 KCPE examinations. And now pressure is mounting on authorities to account for the missing learners. Data compiled by The Standard on Saturday shows that of the 12,424 missing candidates, Nairobi has the highest number.

Out of the 66,175 candidates who were registered for the examinations in the city, some 1,153 did not sit the KCPE examination in the 11 sub-counties. Another 581 candidates did not sit the examinations in Bungoma out of the 55,334 candidates had registered. 

And in Nakuru County, some 56,527 candidates registered, but only 55,959 sat the papers. This means some 568 candidates missed out. Data further shows that some 562 candidates did not sit examinations in Turkana.

Other counties with missing candidates are Kakamega (555), Meru (554), Migori (537), Garissa (506), Kiambu (443) and Kilifi (440). 

Further, counties with a relatively high number of missing candidates are Kiambu, Machakos, Kitui, West Pokot, Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Narok, Busia, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Siaya, and Kisii.

The revelation now puts authorities in a spot in various counties to institute plans to trace the learners. Each pupil in a public primary school receives Sh1,420 in capitations per year. Assuming all the missing candidates were in public schools, each learner ought to have received Sh11,360 during the entire eight years of study.

Overall, it means that at least Sh142 million was spent on all the missing candidates in capitation funding during their entire primary school education. In addition to this, the stakeholders argue that taxpayers’ money was used by the government to pay examination fees for all the candidates. 

This examination cost was taken up by the government after President Uhuru Kenyatta signed into law the Kenya National Examination Council (Amendment) Act, 2015, which waived examination fee levied on all Standard Eight and Form Four candidates.

‘insignificant’ numbers

Although Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha termed the number “insignificant” compared to the total number of candidates who sat the papers, education stakeholders want each of the learners accounted for.

“We can still have these children mopped up through the Nyumba Kumi initiative to register for examinations, which will be done later this year,” said Nicholas Maiyo, National Parents’ Association chairman.

Speaking on the sidelines during the release of this year’s KCPE examinations results, Basic Education PS Jwan Julius said once the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) breaks down the numbers per region, measures will be put in place to track the candidates.

“As has always been the case, regional officers down to the villages will be tasked to look for these learners with a view of accounting for all of them,” said Jwan.

Ministry of Education officials who spoke to The Standard cited cases of early pregnancy and marriages among girls, while boys may have ventured in income-generating activities like fishing and boda boda business, which kept them away from school. In the pastoral communities, the ministry said many learners moved in search for pasture, while many others were displaced in flood-prone areas such as Baringo.

Private Schools’ Association national chairperson Mutheu Kasanga said the government had always made efforts to trace the learners, but admitted this year’s missing candidates were too many.

“Last year about 6,000 missed the exams, but this year the number has doubled. We, however, must applaud the government for trying to ensure 100 per cent transition succeeds,” said Ms Kasanga.

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