Questions as 2,000 now set to join Form One without sitting KCPE

Education CS Ezekiel Machogu releases the 2023 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education results at Moi Girls High School in Eldoret Uasin Gishu County on January 8, 2024. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

The government is in a spot over plans to allow 2,000 learners who did not sit the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam to join Form One.

Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu made the announcement yesterday during the release of the Form Four national exam.

Education stakeholders, however, termed the move a serious breach of policy, even as Machogu says the learners will sit a qualifying exam in Form Three.

During the release of the 2023 KCPE results, Machogu said some 9,000 learners did not sit the exam and noted that they would be given supplementary tests in January.

But yesterday, Machogu said only 2,000 had been traced and noted that they would be allowed to join For One, starting January 8, 2024.

The statement raised questions on the criteria of admission.

“The CS has got it wrong because education is governed by policy which dictates that a learner requires a slip of their Standard Eight results. This means he has broken his own policy completely,” said Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) chairperson Omboko Milemba.

Usawa Agenda Executive Director Emmanuel Manyasa said the decision will cause confusion among the learners.

“Which exams will these students be studying for once they join Form One? I understand the frustration of not siting the exam, given that it was the last KCPE, but they should be examined before joining secondary school,” said Manyasa.

Manyasa said the breach of policy could open a Pandora’s box, which could see people who did not sit KCPE or dropped out appealing to be allowed to join Form One.

Initially, Machogu had promised that the ministry would conduct thorough mapping of any of those who may have failed to sit their examination this year in order to administer a special exam in January 2024.

The move was to ensure no pupil in the 2023 cohort misses Form One admission, particularly after the phasing out of the 8-4-4 system.

The 2023 candidates were the last to sit KCPE. However, Machogu said upon further audit, out of the 9,354 students who failed to sit the 2023 KCPE, they could only trace about 2,000 learners.

Qualifying exam

Speaking during the release of KCSE exam results in Eldoret, Machogu said the affected students will have to sit an exam by the time they are in Form Three to enable them to be registered for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exam.

“Since the number so far located is small to warrant a national examination, they decided that the 2,000 candidates join Form One, starting January 2024, and be allowed to sit qualifying examinations later,” said the Cabinet secretary.

However, the Kuppet chair faulted the move, terming it as unfavorable.

“Even 30 students warrant a supplementary exam. Let them sit a special exam before joining Form One. That is why we have supplementary exam even for one student in the university,” said Milemba.

Milemba further questioned the criteria that will be used to place the students in the national, sub-county, county or sub-county schools adding that there is no circular advising principals on the basis to admit them.  

“We use this exam for placement and now there is no model of placing them because they do not have any mark. Aren’t we disadvantaging them given that even a student who should have gone to a national school will miss out and join a lower cadre because they have not earned any mark?” posed the Kuppet chair.

Milemba said the decision is legally actionable and could curtail the future of the affected learners.

“For the first time we don’t need KCPE certificate to join Form One. This is wrong and it is fodder for courts,” said Milemba.

Students stigmatised

He added: “Any person moving to court to say that some students are in Form One illegally will have the orders the next day and the government will complain that people are rushing to court to spoil its policies.”

On the social aspect, Milemba said the students could be stigmatised as students in Form One without having sat the KCPE exam and be categorised as students who do not deserve to be there.

Machogu yesterday directed the Kenya National Examination Council to release further guidelines regarding the entry examination.