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Who will save the 28,000 students who scored grade E in KCSE?

NEWS
By Pkemoi Ng'enoh | May 13th 2021

In the backdrop of a global pandemic that cost jobs and lives and disrupted education and the economy , the  Kenyan press and social media has been awash with profiles and testimonies of KCSE candidates who floored the most challenging form four national exam ever held in Kenya.

The victors were celebrated and they deserve to bask in the afterglow of a triumphant run buoyed by good genes, fine teaching and, for the most part, grit. 

And then there are 28,000 students who scored grade ‘E’. They cower faceless in the dark, their fate mentioned in hushed tones. Of these, 141 sat the exam in National schools, 85 in extra County schools, 1,501 in County, 18,239 in Sub-County and 8,080 in private schools.

For most of these students, especially from county and private schools, the grade will not come as a surprise as they are likely to have consistently under-formed academically in both primary and secondary school. Question, what befell national, extra county and sub-county candidates who, given the esteem of these schools must have joined with excellent to above average standard eight marks?

Counseling psychologist James Mbugua of African Nazarene University says it is wrong to label these students as ‘failures’.

“In my teaching experience at the University level,  I have seen students join with good grades but not making it finally. What matters is the support we give these children. They can still make it, even though our society is grades oriented,” he says

He is, however, optimistic that the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) will raise a generation of job creators if they are given the right training and tools.

Education, public engagement and strategy consultant Wesaya Maina says blaming such students for failing instead of asking why they failed is wrong because sometimes, the system is unfair to them.

“It they are not eligible for any college training based on the form four exam, the problem should have been solved in the early stages of their schooling by observing what they are good at. Some of them should even have been placed under category of special needs because they could be mentally handicapped,” he argues

Maina observes that instead of being forced to fit into a straitjacket, the system should have come up with another option of assessment for them because some could be good in crafts, sports and even agriculture.

National Parents Association chairperson Nicholas Maiyo is philosophical.

“We have sharp and weak students, but is not strange because we have seen successful people in life who did other things apart from class work. Such students should not lose hope in life,” he counsels.

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