, KISUMU, Kenya, Nov 9 – More than 700,000 students are sitting the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations which kicked off countrywide on Tuesday morning.
The pupils include those who enrolled in standard one at the start of the free primary education programme in 2003, when President Mwai Kibaki assumed the presidency.
In Nyanza, the Provincial Director of Education Geoffrey Cherongis said 114,576 candidates were enrolled there for the examinations.
Mr Cherongis said out of that number, 51,976 are boys while 62,600 are girls, a slight improvement in enrolment compared to last year.
He said measures were put in place to ensure papers reached schools on time and that security had been enforced to guarantee a smooth examination exercise.
For schools that are within the islands of Lake Victoria, boats have been hired to transport the examination materials.
In Coast Province, the Capital News correspondent reported that 63,000 pupils settled down on Tuesday morning to sit the examinations.
Coast provincial Director of Education Tom Majani confirmed that the exercises started in all the seven counties without any hitches.
However, Mr Majani raised concern over the low enrolment of girls, saying only 27,000 girls are sitting the exams compared to 36,000 boys.
He explained that most of the girls dropped out of school in the upper primary classes due to early pregnancies
Mr Majani said the number of girls at the lower classes was at par with boys but the same number declined once the girls reached the upper classes due to early pregnancies and early marriages.
"The government will not condone parents who remove their girls (from school) at the tender age to marry them off,” warned Mr Majani.