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Kenyans worry over girls performance

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 3 – Kenyans are disappointed with the underperformance exhibited by girls in last year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary School Education (KCSE) examinations.

Those interviewed by Capital News attributed the reduced performance to the stigma surrounding girl child education. They feel there\’s an urgent need for girls to change their attitude towards education.

“Maybe their attitude is that they will get married to people with money so they do not need to work hard after all,” said one parent while another stated that many girls face a lot of distractions while in school.

“Girls always seem to be derailed by petty things. They are given everything by their parents so when they are in school, they do not concentrate.”

The top 10 positions in the country were dominated by boys with the first girl coming in at number 11.

Education Minister Sam Ongeri said that the number of female candidates sitting the examination from hospitals had increased from 80 to 114 in 2009 with most of the cases being as a result of girls being sexually molested mostly by their teachers.

He also pointed out that the gender disparity between boys and girls who sat for the KCSE examination was 45.3 to 54.7 percent respectively, a fact he blamed on early marriages especially in North Eastern Province which recorded the highest gap of 47.2 between boys and girls.

Prof Ongeri urged parents and guardians to promote girl education to help create equal opportunities for both boys and girls.

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Central Province had the smallest gender difference with boys at 51 percent and girls 49 percent.

A businessman in the Nairobi Central Business District said that girls needed to be encouraged to be more focused and to look at their future critically.

“Many girls always concentrate on fashion and similar things but this needs to change drastically,” he said.

“It does not mean that when girls do not perform well, it is as a result of other problems, since the overall education system is sometimes at an all time low,” he added.

Meanwhile, the lack of ranking of schools in this year’s examination has been praised by educationists.

Mangu High School Principal Henry Raichena said that this will ensure that teachers concentrate more on individual student performance rather than the school\’s position.

He explained that it will also reduce unhealthy competition within the education sector.

“There is nothing that is going to be absolutely good or bad. To me this is a good step in ensuring that teachers actually do the normal teaching because I am convinced that this is the best way to bring about good students,” he said.

The 2009 KCSE candidates were ranked according to a performance index.

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“This is a system that can easily make those who are not committed to working to just relax since it is not the school that is going to be seen or known, but it is the student,” Mr Raichena added.

“However, I think that there is a slight improvement this year since last year they only read index numbers, the names of the students and their performance indexes.  This year, they were reading the index number and the name of the student alone.”

Alliance Boys High Schools dominated results in Central Province producing nine out of 10 best students there.

Prof Ongeri said that students\’ performance in the examinations had improved slightly compared to 2008 with a total of 81,048 candidates scoring at least an aggregate of C+, which is the minimum grade required to qualify for university admission.

Exam cheating was also down with a total of 69 schools penalized for the vice.

The Kenya National Examinations Council did not rank schools but only provided a list of the top candidates.

The criteria introduced two years ago, is meant to discourage irrational competition which has seen some students cheat to top the charts.

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