From 295 KCPE marks to an A in KCSE: This is Moses Kabira’s story

Moses Kabira Mutethia scored an A (plain) of 81 out of the possible 84 points in the 2020 KCSE. [Phares Mutembei, Standard]]


Moses Kabira Mutethia got 295 marks out of the possible 500 in the 2016 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam. His overall grade in the test was C+ (plus).


A breakdown of his 295 KCPE marks was as follows: English (C+), Kiswahili (C plain), Mathematics (B-), Science (B-) and Social Studies and Religious Education (C+).

Had someone projected that Kabira, 18, would elevate his grade to A (plain) in the subsequent secondary school national exam, it would be hard to believe that projection.

However, the alumnus of Kanathu Primary School in Meru County has overcome all odds to post the highest grade one can ever get in Kenya’s national tests – A (plain). He sat the 2020 KCSE at Njia Boys’ High School in Igembe Central Sub-County, Meru County.

With an A (plain) of 81 points out of the maximum 84, Kabira dropped points in English and Kiswahili subjects only.

He scored straight As in Mathematics, Biology, Physics, History and Government and Business Studies. In Kiswahili, he had an A- (minus), and English B+ (plus).

An A plain in KCSE is 12 points; A- (minus) is 11, and B+ (plus) is ten points. B (plain) is nine points, B- (minus) is eight, C+ (plus) is seven, C (plain) is six, C- (minus) is five, D+ (plus) is four, D (plain) is three, D- (minus) is two, and E is one point.

The Chemistry exam, in which Kabira scored an A- (minus), was not ranked, as the maximum number of subjects to be graded are seven. There are three compulsory subjects that must be graded regardless of the score. These are Mathematics, English and Kiswahili.

A candidate is, thereafter, free to pick a minimum of four more subjects to qualify for grading. One can do eight or even nine subjects, but only seven will be ranked. Kabira took eight subjects, but the Chemistry exam, which he scored an A- (minus) in, wasn’t tallied because it ranked lower compared to the other choice subjects (Biology, Physics, History and Government and Business Studies).

Kabira wishes to pursue Medicine in university.

“When I scored 295 [KCPE] marks in 2016, many people laughed at me, saying I wouldn’t be successful in life. My parents, however, encouraged me, saying I still had another chance to prove my ability,” he told The Standard.

Kabira said in the lead-up to the 2020 KCSE exam, he and a few of his peers formed a study group, which helped him prepare for the national exam. The group met frequently during the seven-month Covid-19 break.

“In 2016, I deserved the 295 [KCPE] marks. There were many challenges at home that I was facing. Njia School fraternity, especially the teachers, helped me improve on my performance in the subsequent level,” said Kabira.

Being raised in a region that heavily relies on miraa trade, Kabira said his parents asked him to put effort in studies because “the miraa business is becoming less lucrative by the day, as prices are falling steadily”.

“They told me education is what would get me and them out of poverty.”

Njia Boys’ High School principal, Gitonga Imunya, said Kabira was a bright student, who occasionally faced fee problems.

“We allowed him, nevertheless, to remain in school,” said the head-teacher.