Magoha beats retreat on Form One selection again

Tuesday, May 25th, 2021 00:00 |
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha (left), Absa Bank MD Jeremy Awori (centre) and head teacher Samuel Nyaga interact with hearing-impaired pupils at Joseph Kang’ethe Primary School in Nairobi yesterday. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

Irene Githinji @gitshee

The government yesterday delayed Form One selection exercise amid fears well-connected individuals had secured slots for unqualified children in the country’s top schools at the expense of bright learners from poor backgrounds.

In a surprise move, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha announced he would release the outcome of the exercise on June 15 and not Friday as planned.

“The ministry is concluding a meticulous Form One selection exercise for the 2020 KCPE exam results.

I will be releasing the selection results on Tuesday, June 15,” Magoha said yesterday.

The announcement left thousands of last year’s KCPE exam candidates who were anxiously waiting to know which schools they would join, in shock.

He alluded to the interference in the selection, saying he was acting on orders to ensure all deserving candidates join the best schools regardless of social status. 

“Form One selection will commence soon and we will announce to the public.

I want to politely ask the people barraging me with requests that I get my orders from one person and that person is President Uhuru Kenyatta and I think I work with him well enough,” the minister affirmed.

Magoha said his orders were to ensure that the places of poor but intelligent children in leading schools such as Kenya High or Alliance are guaranteed.

“I will be taking part in the selection myself. We have to stop this thinking that we just crop the second best and leave the crème de la crème because there is nobody to speak for them. Students should, therefore, not have any stress,” he said. 

National schools

The CS was speaking at the Joseph Kang’ethe Primary School yesterday during the launch of the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Services (KUCCPS) exercise for the 2020 Form Four examination candidates.

The announcement came amid fears that thousands of the 2020 KCPE class would miss their preferred secondary schools due to limited spaces in some of the country’s top institutions.

A technical team from various ministries and agencies, which is working on the formula for the selection in Naivasha, was said to be grappling with the enormous task of placing all the 1,179,192 candidates in secondary schools.

This is after it emerged that the vast majority picked their first choices from the 17 so called “original” national schools while shunning the 86 other top institutions which were elevated to that status with the advent of devolution.

“The problem we are currently experiencing is that majority of the candidates concentrated on the original national schools and ignored the newly-created national schools in the counties.

This is forcing us to develop a criteria which may force us to place the candidates in schools other than the ones they applied for,” said a top Education official who sought anonymity because he is not authorised to speak on behalf of the ministry.

Among the national schools which received few applications are those from far flung counties such as Turkana, Wajir, Mandera, West Pokot, Lamu, Tana River, Marsabit and Garissa.

High integrity

“We have very good schools in places like Wajir and Lodwar, which are national or even extra-county but have very few applications.

Majority of the candidates chose traditional schools like Alliance, Nairobi School, Mang’u, Lenana and Maseno. Officials are now forced to find a balance,” said the official.

Magoha is on record stating that an audit of new and existing vacancies for public and private secondary schools has been made to allow admission of all learners.

“To ensure all candidates are placed in schools of their choice, based on performance and available vacancies, the Ministry of Education will employ a water-tight system that will be both credible and of high integrity,” he said when he released the exam results last month.

Yesterday, Magoha stressed that all the 1.2 million candidates who sat the examination will find places in secondary schools in the spirit of 100 per cent transition policy.

“We must ensure utmost protection of all learners who sat the 2020 KCPE as they prepare to join Form One in July.

We must ensure we ward off all forms of child abuse that are common in some parts of the country, which could prevent the learners from joining Form One,” the CS said.

The team in Naivasha is expected to ensure a water-tight criteria is developed, including setting quota and an acceptable formula, which will subsequently see fair placement to secondary schools for 2020 KCPE candidates.

Magoha announced KUCCPS was ready to place the 2020 KCSE candidates.

He praised the 2019 exam cycle, saying that some of the students chose to go to Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges despite scoring mean grades of A in their KCSE.

The minister called for a change in mindset, even as he said inspection of national polytechnics had shown that they are well equipped, some better than universities.

“If you are aiming at becoming the finest plumber, do you want to go the university way or the TVET or polytechnic route where after three years you will be earning a lot of money and looking at the people who went to universities tarmacking for 10 years?” Magoha posed.

The CS also said that revision of choices for placement to degree, diploma, artisan and craft courses started yesterday.

He directed KUCCPS to open its system for the 2020 KCSE cohort to review and, if they wish, make changes to the courses that they selected through their schools.

Candidates who were not able to apply in school will use the opportunity to submit their choices.

TVETs option

All applicants will know the universities and colleges they have been selected to by end of July to enable higher education institutions to admit the students in the new academic year beginning September.

Magoha reiterated that all candidates have a bright future awaiting them and none will be left behind.

Technical and TVET institutions have vacancies for 331,045 new students, while public and private universities have 160,160 spaces for government-sponsored students.

“I wish to reiterate that all the 143,140 candidates who scored a mean grade of C+ and above will be absorbed by our universities and TVET institutions by choice,” the CS said.

The remaining 600,159 are eligible to apply for TVET programmes offered in national polytechnics and other technical training institutions.

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