NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 29 – Release of the 2014 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination results on Monday marked the historical end of Kenya’s tradition of announcing student and school rankings.
Education Cabinet Secretary Prof Jacob Kaimenyi enumerated a dozen reasons that led to the government’s decision to abolish ranking students and schools with the major reason being the need to equalise students especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“The demerits of ranking far outweigh the merits of the same. To rate learners and institutions does not give conclusive evidence of the effects of various variables such as physical resources – schools do not have the same physical resources,” he elaborated.
The main reasons why the government reached its decision to abolish ranking of students and schools was informed by a myriad of other factors.
Kaimenyi felt that the teacher-student ratio in different schools was incomparable with some being more advantaged with adequate staff while others grapple with skeleton staff.
He also cited use of unethical methods such as forcing students especially those in Standard Seven to repeat classes or transfer if they think they will drag their school from being named among the top.
According to Kaimenyi, students are overworked and sometimes denied school holidays to ensure they concentrate on their books so that they can perform well. He noted that ranking was also creating unhealthy competition in a non conducive environment.
“In the name of trying to be number one they cause untold suffering to students and parents in the pursuit of improved performance. Weak pupils are forced to repeat classes. In some cases they are even forced to transfer on flimsy grounds,” he explained.
In other instances, Kaimenyi complained, some schools accept only a small number of pupils so that they can have a high mean grade. He said parents are asked to pay high school fees to maintain the school which Kaimenyi also felt was uneconomical.
Of concern was that some schools concentrated more on examinable subjects and ignored other extracurricular or non examinable subjects since their concern was about passing examinations.
He advised that pupils be supported through education but also be encouraged to develop in other extracurricular activities.
According to Kaimenyi, there was too much emphasis on passing exams such that pupils cram content instead of acquiring knowledge and the right attitude. He further noted that school ranking was demoralizing students and teachers who sometimes face discrimination because of being rated poorly.
Kaimenyi however, warned teachers that even though ranking had been abolished, it was not an opening for laxity. He said an Education Standards and Quality Assurance Council had been established to ensure high education standards are still maintained.
However, moments after the release of the results Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Secretary General Wilson Sossion complained that lack of ranking of schools and students would lead to a decline of quality of education in the country.
Sossion also complained that KNUT was not consulted to give its thoughts on the policy change.
However, Kenya National Parents Association Chairman Musau Ndunda thought it was a brilliant decision that will equalise students in the country and also promote fair opportunities also to students from disadvantaged backgrounds.