Fix Form One selection process to end discontent

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha during Form One selection on Monday,  April 11, 2022, at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development in Nairobi, flanked by Education CAS Sarah Ruto.[Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha made public Form One selection results on Monday. The announcement was received with a mixture of joy and dismay. For some who were not sure they would be called to schools of their choices, anxiety had built up.

As would be expected, many were happy and celebrated admission to their preferred schools while others experienced great disappointment on learning they had missed out on their favourite schools. Ordinarily, this is to be expected since not all students get admitted to schools of their choices.

Yet underlying that reality is the truth that some of the selections were clearly ridiculous. It defeats logic how a student in, say, Kakamega ends up as a day scholar in a school in Nairobi, Turkana, Pokot or Lamu. Such cases undermine the trust learners, parents, teachers and guardians have in the digitised selection process.

Besides such oversights, many of the students were devastated on learning they had been admitted to schools they did not select and worse, far away from their homes. Granted, while it is not possible for all students to get schools of their choices, it’s not right to send students, some who worked extra hard to post excellent grades with the sole aim of joining specific schools, to different, less prestigious institutions.

While selecting schools, candidates are allowed to pick them at the national, extra county, county and sub county levels. As such, should a student miss his or her first choice, the least the Ministry of Education can do is send them to any other school they have chosen. Where that is not possible, it be good to send them to schools within reasonable distance.

Kenyans acknowledge that use of technology comes with its advantages and challenges. However, if such challenges cause despondency among parents and learners, then the ministry would do Kenyans a great service if it went back to the manual system of selection that, no doubt, raised fewer hackles.