Private schools in the Coast region dominated the top positions in this year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations.
However, overall, girls were the best performers in the exams, taking the two top positions — and with two tying at number two.
Nationally, the best candidate was Goldalyn Kakuya of St Annes Junior Lubao School, Kakamega County, who topped the charts with 455 marks out of the possible 500, a striking improvement over last year’s performance, where the best candidate obtained 437 marks.
Goldalyn overcame ill-health to get to the top.
Her teachers explained that she was in and out of school due to a health condition but that neither deterred nor distracted her from achieving her dreams.
Hers was a case of determination, single-mindedness and commitment in the face of adversity.
“We knew she would score highly in KCPE because of her consistent performance. She has always topped the class,” school head teacher Mukoya Nambande said.
Coming in second position were two girls, Sharon Ngata Murega of Kathigiri Primary School in Meru County, and Gathoni Macharia of St Peters’ Elite School, Gilgil, both who scored 447.
“I am glad that I shall be able to join a high school of my choice and later save people’s lives because I want to take a medical career,” 14-year-old Sharon told the Nation.
The top candidates from the Coast were Sewe Glen of Busy Bee Academy, Mombasa (436 marks), Abdulatif Swaleh of St Kevin Hill, also Mombasa (433), and Swaleh Ramah (432).
The others were Mwamosi Amina Omar (429) of Manuel Alexander Academy in Kwale, Favour Blessing (429) of St Kevin Hill in Mombasa, Ali Hussein (428) of Nyali Primary in Mombasa, Hanaan Amer (428) also of Nyali Primary, Teddy Nyale (427) of Ganjoni Primary in Mombasa, and Mwazumbi Hannah Mkabili (426) of Voi St Jude, Taita-Taveta.
In national rankings, the other top candidates were Okuthe Giovanni Tonnuci of Chumo Academy Kericho who obtained 446, Valery Kasana of Booker Academy, Mumias (445), David Nzambuli from Kenvic School in Ngong (445), and Sharon Muthoni of St Peters’ Elite School, Gilgil (444).
Others were Mercy Muiruri of Moi Educational Centre (443), Kellen Njambi of Hillside Endarasha (443), Claire Muthoni Kinyanjui of Makini (443) Purity Mueni also of Moi Educational Centre (442), Sarah Nyambori Onderi of Elsa Academy Kisii (442), Leonard Ochieng of St Peter Cape View Academy in Homa Bay (441), Tatiana Wabwile of Bungoma DEB Primary (441), and Stacy Adalla of Marell Academy, Bungoma (440).
Overall, the performance was better this year compared to last year.
More candidates obtained 400 marks and above, while those with less than 100 marks declined.
Specifically, 9,846 candidates recorded more than 400 marks compared to 5,143 last year.
Similarly, those scoring less than 100 — the tail-enders —dropped drastically to 2,360 as contrasted to 6,747 last year.
All those with 400 marks and above will be admitted to national schools irrespective of the category of their schools.
In the past, top performers from private schools were discriminated against in admission, a trend that has been dropped because of the injustice against candidates.
Releasing the results on Tuesday, Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i was upbeat that the reforms introduced in the sector had inspired teachers to work extra hard and prepare the candidates adequately.
“I wish to mention that the performance of candidates this year has generally improved compared to last year.
“This is largely attributed to the adequate preparation of candidates by teachers under the new stringent examinations regime,” Dr Matiang’i said.
The results were released at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, just three weeks after the exams were done in 26,284 centres across the country.
A total of 993,718 sat the three-day examinations held between October 31 and November 2.
Dr Matiang’i was accompanied by his Information and Communication Technology counterpart Joe Mucheru, whose ministry was instrumental in enhancing the technology that boosted the security and capacity of the exam council to streamline administration of the tests.
A significant development this year was the excellent grades recorded by public schools, which for years have been beaten by private schools, most of which boast superior facilities and well paid teachers.
For the second successive year, no results were cancelled as no cheating was recorded in the exams.
Dr Matiang’i noted that the measures put in place in 2016 to end exam cheating were enhanced this year, including cutting the time the papers are collected from the stores and administered to the candidates.
“Because of this, in addition to the beefing up of security and surveillance, we conducted the examinations in a most professional manner.
“As such, I wish to report that for the second year running, no examinations were leaked. Indeed, we are not cancelling results for any candidate.”
An analysis of performance by subjects indicated that English, Kiswahili, mathematics, religious education and Kenyan sign language registered the best grades.
Conversely, science and social studies dipped.
The chairman of the Kenya National Examinations Council, Prof George Magoha, outlined some of the reforms undertaken by the council that restored the sanctity of the exams, among them procuring new and modern technologies for marking; serialising exam scripts using candidates’ index numbers, and introduction of bar codes on papers to enhance tracking when the scripts are returned.
In a related development, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the exam council to set supplementary exams for candidates who missed out either because of sickness or bereavement.
State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said the move was meant to give the candidates a chance to organise themselves and write the tests when they have the peace of mind and clarity of thought, and are therefore able to perform to their best.
The traditional practice has been to force all candidates to sit the exams when they are being administered irrespective of their physical and mental state.
For example, this year some 43 candidates sat the exams in hospitals, while 50 did so in 2016.
With the results out, the ministry now moves to select Form One candidates from December 4 and plans to send out the letters to the qualifiers by Jamhuri Day — December 12.
However, Mrs Macharia cautioned those who engage in irregularities.