Health CS Mutahi Kagwe in Nairobi on October 4, 2021. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Kenyan nurses have come under the spotlight for having failed an English test.

Speaking in Mombasa on Wednesday, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said out of 300 health workers who took the English test, only 10 passed.

Some of the questions in the English proficiency test are listed below.

The SLC Online English Test gives an indication of one’s current level of English and how it maps against the Common European Framework of Reference used to describe language ability.

Nurses had 20 minutes to complete 60 multiple choice questions, which included:

1.       My teacher ______ from the United Kingdom.

A. are

B. is

C. am

D. be

2.       What’s _______ name?

A. –

B. his

C. him

D. he

3.       My friend _______ in London.

A. living

B. Live

C. Lives

D. Is live

4.       Where _______?

A. works Tom

B. Tom works

C. Tom does work

D. does Tom work

5.       I _______ coffee.

A. no like

B. not like

C. like don’t

D. don’t like

The nurses were part of a programme that the government had negotiated for clinical workers for job exports.

It would involve working with the UK’s National Health Service and coming back to Kenya afterward.

CS Kagwe was speaking during the Kenya Clinical Officers Association scientific conference.

In July, Britain agreed to hire 20,000 Kenyan nurses. According to the agreement between the two countries, the nurses will be employed on a three-year contract, with a salary of Sh450,000 a month.

But yesterday, Kagwe said many of them might miss the lucrative offer for their failure to pass the basic proficiency tests.

“Our failure rate, particularly in English, is extremely high. We sent 300 people through the English exams. Only 10 passed,” said Kagwe at the PrideInn Paradise Hotel, Mombasa, during the opening of the Kenya Clinical Officers Association annual scientific conference.

Kagwe asked training institutions to offer quality education to meet global standards.

“We must set standards so that we are sure that there is no exam anywhere on earth that a clinical officer trained in Kenya can fail.”

He said the government will continue to negotiate with other nations to get more jobs, adding that talks with some governments in the Middle East and Europe for the export of clinical officers were ongoing.

“We are sending our health workers after having satisfied our own market,” Kagwe said. “The dignity of getting a job and the pride that comes with working is something that we cannot deny our people.”

Additional reporting by Ronald Bett