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2019 KCPE achievers make comeback four years later in 2023 KCSE exam

When June Jeptoo Koech was celebrated by her parents after she scored 439 marks to emerge as the top student in the 2019 KCPE examination. [File, Standard]

Several candidates who topped in the 2019 KCPE exam registered remarkable grades in last year’s KCSE exam, securing a chance to pursue their dream careers.

However, some of the top scorers in the 2019 KCPE did not make it to the list of high achievers in the Form Four national examination.

A comparison of the list of top performers in the two examinations, conducted four years apart, shows the current list is dominated by new entrants.

However, a few names from the 2019 KCPE achievers’ list make a comeback in the list of top performers in the 2023 KCSE exam.

This could mean that most KCPE top scorers fade into obscurity by the time they sit KCSE -- the final exam in secondary school, which determines which university or course a student is placed in.

Koech Jeptoo June made one of the most remarkable comebacks in this year’s KCSE exam.

In the 2019 KCPE exam, Jeptoo scored 439, emerging the top female candidate nationally. She shared the position with two others.

She was the second-best student nationally, earning herself a coveted spot at Pangani Girls’ School. 

This week when the results of the 2023 KCSE exam were released, Jeptoo’s name was once again among the high achievers.

Although she did not emerge the best girl nationally, she maintained her academic prowess, after scooping an A-, a remarkable feat that placed her among the top students in the country.

In the 2019 KCPE, the top student scored 440 marks. However, by the time of going to press, Saturday Standard was yet to establish his final score in the KCSE exam.

According to the 2023 KCSE examination results, 9,686 candidates scored Grades A and A-.

Out of this, 1,216 candidates scored A and another 8,470 got A-.

Jeptoo’s story is not unique as a handful of other former KCPE stars have also made impressive comebacks in last year’s KCSE exam. 

Naibei Dyleen Yego, is another notable name that made a return to the leader board of the national examination.

Naibei Dyleen Yego.

She attended El Shaddai Academy in Utawala and scored 430 marks in KCPE in 2019, just 10 points shy of the top student in the country.

But she did not stop at that after emerging in the list of top performers in the 2023 KCSE exam.

She scored an A- at Kenya High School

Maria Clara Achieng was also one of the 2019 KCPE stars.

Achieng scored 426 marks at Lwak Girls in Siaya and secured her a spot at Kenya High School.

She also appeared in the list of top performers after scooping am A- in the KCSE exam.

While they don’t maintain their earlier ranking in KCSE, long-serving school principal Kahi Indimuli, explains that KCPE stars perform relatively well.

“Ranking is not the marker to determine how a student performed but the points they get. You cannot condemn a student who got an A when they post an A-... that is actually maintaining stellar performance,” Indimuli said.

Indimuli, who retired recently after serving as the principal of Machakos Boys for six years and 34 years as a teacher, noted that the top KCPE performers witness immense pressure from school, parents and those they know to maintain their top performance.

Peter Njagi, a psychologist and psychiatrist who previously was the head of Mathari Hospital agrees with Indimuli’s sentiments, noting that such pressure could lead to a decline in academic performance.

Njagi also argues that some top students in primary school might struggle to fit in secondary school thus affecting their score in KCSE.

“Take for example, a student from a well-polished private school who joins a public secondary school where they have to be aggressive to get some basic resources. Such a student would struggle to fit in. And by the time they do, they might have lost so much time leading to a decline in performance,” Njagi said in an interview with The Saturday Standard.

Another KCPE star, Allan Kipkorir, shot to stardom yet again in the KCSE examination managing to scoop Grade A from Alliance High School.

He scored 422 marks in the 2019 KCPE examination which he sat at Gethsemane Christian in Uasin Gishu County.

Basil Ondiwa who scooped 419 in the 2019 KCPE maintained his prowess after scooping A in KCSE at Maseno School in Kisumu.

Deborah Nyarinda Nyangau who scored an A- at Alliance Girls High School in this year’s KCSE examination is also among the learners who made an impressive comeback.

She scored 418 in her KCPE at Greenhill Academy in Kisii County.

Chumba Yna Cherotich also burst to the scene, five years ago, scooping 417 at Camelvale Catholic.

She again emerged among the top performers in the 2023 KCSE examinations.

She scored A at Moi High School, Kabarak.

Irungu Michael Makunyi, who scored 413 at St. Christopher in Nanyuki, also managed a spot in the KCSE high table after scooping Grade A at Alliance High School.

Nuru Adnan who sat his KCPE exams at Nyali Primary in Mombasa and got 412 marks also managed to be among those who posted a stellar performance in KCSE from Light Academy, Mombasa, after scooping an A.

Kariuki Grace who scored 411 in the 2019 KCPE also made the list of top performers in the KCSE examination after scoring Grade A- at Mugoiri Girls High.

Jamhuri Boys High School's top students Phillip Ndinda (A) and Malcolm John (A-) celebrate the results of KCSE 2023 at the school premises in Nairobi on January 8, 2024. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Mohamed Ahmed, a former student of MM Shah Primary School in Mombasa where he scored 408 marks also managed to be among the top performers in the 2023 KCSE exam. He scored an A at Light Academy, Mombasa.

Kamau Peter Macharia, also a KCPE star in 2019 who scooped 407 marks at Bethlehem Academy in Kiambu this time scored an A-.

Even as the top performers celebrate their wins, Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu raised concern over an increase in the number of low grades.

According to the results, some 48,174 students got Grade E.

Machogu instructed the Directorate of Quality Assurance to work with other field officers and teachers to investigate the E Grade cases in each county for further action. 

“I am pained by the fact that a large number of candidates (48,174 or 5.33 per cent) still ended up scoring a mean grade of E in the 2023 KCSE examination even after the ministry used a more flexible system of computing the final overall candidate results,” Machogu said.

In the 2023 KCSE examination, a total of 899,453 candidates sat the test; 450,554 were male, while 448,899 were female.

And for the first time, Machogu indicated that Mathematics had registered a performance improvement.

In total, 12 subjects recorded a significant performance improvement. These subjects were Mathematics, Kiswahili, Biology, Biology for the Blind, CRE, Business Studies, German, Music, Chemistry, Building Construction, French and Electricity.

On the other hand, 14 subjects declined in performance compared to results posted in the 2022 KCSE.

These include English, Kenyan Sign Language, Physics, Computer Studies, History & Government, Geography, IRE, Agriculture, Home Science, Wood Work, Metal Work, Power Mechanics, Drawing & Design and Art & Design.

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