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Historical school ranking might be back

By David Kipkorir | March 5th 2016

The Ministry of Education stopped school and student ranking in 2014, prompting politicians, teachers and parents to accuse the government of potentially jeopardizing competition in national examinations.

In response, the government said that the ban was meant to avoid excessive focus on exams at the expense of holistic learning.

The war of words has unfurled a national debate in the country about the role of school ranking.

Those in support of ranking said failure to recognize top performers would lead to truancy and under-performance in schools.

They argued that the ban had stripped the release of national examinations results the glory it was associated with.

On the contrary, those supporting the ban said it had ended the pressure on candidates and teachers.

For years, the country has relied on ranking information released by the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) to gauge the broad differences between schools.

Former Education Assistant Minister Kilemi Mwiria, who chaired a task force that recommended the ban, said ranking had to be phased out as it was about “comparing the incomparable”.

Dr. Mwiria, who is now President Uhuru Kenyatta’s adviser on education had said then that there can only be competition by comparing how schools added value to the students they admitted.

But many education stakeholders continue to blame the government for the shortcomings that came with ranking.

They are asking the government to provide adequate facilities to public schools to make them compete with the private ones.

Others have proposed a county-based ranking method that will enhance competition among schools and subsequently produce better results during national examinations.

As this debate continues to elicit different reactions from different quarters, the government must in consultation with all stakeholders move with speed to bring it to an end through a consensus.

So it is refreshing to note that Education Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Fred Matiang’i while releasing KCSE 2015 examination results hinted that ranking could be back soon.

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