Why few KCPE stars shine at high school challenges

Sunday, December 22nd, 2019 22:13 |
Samson Gachie of Nyakiambi Secondary is feted in Nakuru county after scoring A-(minus) in KCSE exam. He is one of the best-improved students having scored 277 marks in the KCPE. Photo/PD/RAPHAEL MUNGE

Majority of the 2015 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam stars are missing from a list of the top 2019 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) top performers compiled by People Daily. 

High school teachers and parents have tried to protect the KCSE test marks of pupils who topped the Standard Eight exam four years ago, but it is apparent few of them are on list of some of the top students in KCSE compiled by Scholar. 

 Coast regional education co-ordinator Hassan Duale said his office would conduct a deeper analysis and establish who among the best performers in their 2015 KCPE at the Coast region faired well in the Form Four test.

“We are yet to find out where these students are but it’s something we intend to look at. We cannot ignore the trend where top KCPE candidates fade out in KCSE; it’s a matter of concern to us,” he said. 

A secondary school teacher in Dagorreti, Nairobi says nobody is talking about top KCPE performers admitted in leading national schools such as Alliance Boys and Loreto Limuru who drop out after failing to cope with the rigorous academic programmes.  

A spot-check by Scholar in Kisumu established that the former KCPE giants, though they have posted impressive results, did not produce grade As in KCSE. Some of them were even outshone in the test by colleagues who transited with lower marks in KCPE.

Twaweza Kenya country director Emmanuel Manyasa blames pressure to perform exerted on the KCPE stars by parents, teachers and the media for the outcome.

“What do you expect when you take a 12 to 15-year-old and make him or her a celeb? They easily get confused,” he says. 

Injustice to candidates

Twaweza —which when translated from Swahili means ‘we can make it happen’—is an non-governmental organisation that works on enabling children to learn, citizens to exercise agency and governments to be more open and responsive in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.

Munyasia says the media, parents and education fraternity is doing injustice to Standard Eight candidates who excel in the national test.

“Clever parents protect their kids from the limelight by hiding them,” he says— a challenge Scholar encountered when we tried to find out how some 2015 KCPE stars have performed in KCSE. 

Parents of one such student in Nakuru said he was in Mombasa with Uncle B, but Uncle B said all kids in his house had gone to visit Auntie C where there was no network. 

Munyasia says some KCPE stars, mostly girls, are also being bullied in high school by older students and even classmates “to get even” and “to bring them down to earth”. 

He says children excel because of mediating circumstances- the school atmosphere, parental and community support, friends and hard working teachers who genuinely care for them.

When the secondary school environment is different, the same child cannot perform. “There also personal challenges such as poor health and allergies,” he says. 

Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Kilindini branch secretary, Dan Oloo, says poverty, health, religion and environmental factors are key in a student’s success or failure. 

“Some learners get carried away by peer pressure.Others change attitude as they age,” he says.

Natural talents

However, tutors point out some pupils are naturally bright and hard workers. For instance this year’s top KCSE exam candidate Tony Wabuko Buluma, who got 87.159 points at Kapsabet Boys, had scored 436 points in KCPE. 

Aggrey Wabukho Anyinya from Kakamega county, the nation’s top performer in the 2015 KCPE exam with 449 marks, was admitted at Alliance Boys where he has scored A- in KCSE.  

“A good performance by any means, but at least 48 boys who scored A plain were ahead of him at Alliance Boys. Nationally, 627 students got plan As,” observed one teacher. 

At Maili Saba village in Bahati constituency, Nakuru county, it was celebration galore a after Esther Kinyanjui of Kenya High School scored an A (plain) of 83 points in the KCSE exam results announced last week.

The girl had got 432 out of the possible 500 marks in her KCPE in 2015. 

Barasa Maryanne Njeri from Kenya High School, who scored an A of 87.087 points, was ranked the second-best candidate nationally. She sat her KCPE exams four years ago at Thika 

Road Academy where she garnered 427 marks.

 High school teachers in Murang’a county say many students who attended private primary schools do poorly in high school because they are too used to rote learning. 

“They are pampered and spoon fed. During the KCPE exam month forn instance, pupils in many academies board temporary yet the institutions are day schools.

Some pupils even have private tutors at home,” says a teacher who declined to be quoted.   

In contrast, it’s all about self-study and group work in public secondary schools, with less rote learning. 

Students used to private coaching at home suffer. “This where we get stars in academics and extra-curricular activities,” he adds.  

In contrast, pupils from public primary schools have to work twice as hard as their counterparts to score well in KCPE. “They do home work alone; if they fail to do so, their parents cane them,” says a teacher.

The facilities in public primary schools, especially in arid and semi-arid regions, are often non-existent or dilapidated.

Most kids survive on one meal a day. “For such students, a boarding secondary school offering three meals a day is heaven, the atmosphere perfect. So they work harder,” teachers say.  

Fail to impress

Worse, there is a high level of absenteeism by teachers in public schools, particularly in remote areas.  In 2017, TSC was forced to issue tough rules to curb teacher absenteeism in public schools. 

However, some top KCPE performers from public schools are also mesmerised by boarding facilities and the fast pace in secondary schools.

“Some have challenges in languages or health, but we try to help them,” said a teacher at Alliance High School. 

Kenya Union of Post-Primary Teachers (Kuppet) Executive secretary Nakuru branch Eliud Wanjohi notes that  over the years, there has been a trend where many students from private schools fail to impress in KCSE despite recording over 400 marks in KCPE and joining the best high schools in the country. 

Wanjohi says secondary schools require a lot of input from the student unlike in primary schools where pupils rely on teachers for exam setting and marking.

“Most are having it hard to adopt to the secondary education system,” he says.   

Government schools are also more competitive and students are left to forge their own paths with minimal supervision.

“This is what makes most top performers disappear from the limelight,” he says. 

Wanjohi also blames adolescence woes, family disputes and separation as well as ill health for impacting on students’ concentration.  “Teachers need to find ways to help students cope with such challenges,” says Wanjohi.  – Harrison Kivisu, Noven Owiti  and Roy Lumbe

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