Agony for thousands of young Kenyans

January 8, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 8 – More than 240,000 candidates who sat last year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination (KCPE) will not get places in secondary schools this year.

This represents 33.2 percent of the more than 727,000 candidates who sat the paper last year and will be locked out of the national, provincial, district or top private secondary schools countrywide.

The revelation was made on Friday as school heads picked Form One students who are expected to report to their respective schools between February 1 and 5.

However, Education Minister Sam Ongeri regretted that such a large number of the candidates would be locked out of secondary education.

“It is expected that out of a total of 727,054 candidates who sat for KCPE, 485,933 will be placed in both public and private secondary schools countrywide,” he said.

Prof Ongeri was speaking during the launch of the Form One selection exercise at the Kenya Institute of Education, where he said that the secondary schools had not expanded enough to capture increased enrolment in primary schools.

“I believe that we need to re-visit this area of vocational and technical training with our sister ministries so that we can capture these people who are left out,” he observed.

“At the moment, the picture which is being painted is that they are lost out to nowhere,” he stated.

The exercise kicked off amidst calls to review the quota system which has been criticised for ignoring growing disparities in performance between private and public schools.

The selection to the country\’s national and provincial schools has sparked debate on equity in education, after public primary schools posted poor results in the exam last year.

Matters have also been worsened by the growing number of districts where the slots in the top schools remain few. About 3,000 candidates out of the 727,054 who sat for the KCPE will be joining these top schools.

Meanwhile, the education minister once again put up a spirited defense in the Free Primary Education Fund scandal, insisting that his tenure at Jogoo House has been clean.

Professor Ongeri stated that during his tenure in office, there was never any discrepancy.

The education ministry had allegedly embezzled over 175 million shillings meant for Free Primary Education.

“I was not there between 2003 and 2007. There must also have been school audit, internal and external audits,” he pointed out. “How come it has escaped all these mechanisms and you now want to load it all onto me in 2009?”

He accused the various school managements at primary level of colluding to defraud the ministry.  

“In the method in which funds are transmitted, the collusion can only take place at the school management level.  The principals are here, the headmasters are also here,” he said.

“If your school has been a conduit to such malpractice, then you are equally guilty. You cannot absolve yourself and do not try and push it on to us at the headquarters,” he cautioned.


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