Matiang’i: Why majority of 2017 KCSE candidates got Ds

Matiang'i: Why majority of 2017 KCSE candidates got Ds
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i. Photo/Courtesy

Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has told off critics over claims that this year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination was mismanaged, leading to massive failure of candidates.

Matiang’i says the examination was professionally handled, and that the dismal show is proof that results were unethically manipulated in previous years.

The ministry is now implementing reforms to eliminate cheating and ensure syllabuses are adequately covered.

With 438,914 candidates – more than half of all the students who sat KCSE last year – having scored D+ and below, many believe something went seriously wrong.

Only 70,073 candidates will make it to university, representing 11% of the 600,000 students who sat for the exam. A poor show that saw teachers unions and opposition leader Raila Odinga calling for an audit of the results.

But according to the ministry, nothing went wrong, in fact, the ministry says, the results, besides being the actual reflection of the student’s performance, expose a broken system in which results were massaged and grades tampered with to accommodate massive failures; what was then called moderation.

“I’m actually very satisfied with the results because for a long time we have been living a lie,” said Dr. Matiang’i.

Ministry insiders say that for five years consecutively prior to 2016, the average national score in Mathematics was below 30%. For instance, the class of 2013 recorded the worst performance during that period with a national average score of less than 20%.

This means the threshold for the A grade was significantly lowered, in accordance with the performance curve. Those students who scored an A then, despite dismal scores, would then be eligible for courses in the science field including Engineering and Medicine.

“I have taught at the university for over 38 years at the university of Nairobi here where we teach medicine we admit 500 and of those 500, 50% are fake because somehow me and you have been corrupted it is alright as long as you stop doing it, why should you if you have an A in mathematics fail to understand engineering,” said Kenya National Examinations Council Chairman Prof. George Magoha.

The ministry further defends itself against accusations of rushing the marking process stating that for the past 27 years, marking began on the 1st of December and concluded by the eve of Christmas. A two-month period of results processing would then follow before the announcement towards the end of February.

“This was now the time for administrative manipulations, it provided ample time for monkey business, so head teachers are saying add my As this way or that way,” Dr. Matiang’i said.

Following the introduction of sweeping reforms, the marking of exam papers started slightly earlier on the 17th of November this year. With the support of 254 ICT officers, results entries were made in real time.

Tabulation of results for each candidate was then achieved immediately examiners posted the last entry into their computers, before being transmitted to a central server in Nairobi.A process that would previously take weeks using the manual process.

Besides the speed in marking and exam processing which the ministry attributes to use of technology, the consolidation of the marking centres also made a significant difference.

With all the 25 centres within a radius of 2O kilometres from the KNEC headquarters, supervision and monitoring of the examiners became easy unlike the past where the centres were scattered across the country.

Examiners also established that the various syllabuses were not adequately covered as many teachers and students concentrated on revision, limiting their ability to apply knowledge.

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