All’s well that ends well. When the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) cancelled 2014 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination results of some 300 candidates at Chavakali High School last year, both the candidates and their parents were devastated.
The results were annulled on grounds there had been collusion to cheat in English and Mathematics involving 313 candidates. Only four candidates were unaffected. Angry parents stormed the Vihiga-based national school, forcing Deputy Principal Job Mudavi to order the gates to the school’s main entrance closed to parents and journalists.
In the long run, a hard decision was made and all the candidates were forced to repeat. It now emerges that was the best solution under the circumstances. Going by the results released Thursday by Education Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i, the boys have put Knec to shame, whether or not there had been cheating in the 2014 exams.
As one parent put it, they have proved a point. This is after 300 students scored straight As in last year’s exams eclipsing traditional giants, including Kabarak High School, earlier deemed the year’s top A grade performer. Old boys of one of the country’s oldest schools are all over themselves celebrating the feat.
According to the results, another 211 students scored A-, 99 B+ and 20 B (Plain). It is not out of the ordinary, however. In 2013, the school was ranked position eight nationally and produced the sixth best candidate. It had 81 A, 89 A-, 83 B+, 30 B and five B-. No candidate scored below B minus. In the 2014 cancelled results, 180 candidates had A (Plain).
Nevertheless, last year’s cancellation of results appears to have been a blessing in disguise. Nationally, the number of candidates with mean grade of A (plain) dropped from 3,073 in 2014 to 2,636 last year giving Chavakali High 11 per cent of the slots.
This year, according to Matiang’i, there was an “unprecedented” 70 per cent rise in cases of exam irregularities. He said more than 5,000 individual results have been cancelled, up from 2,975 cases recorded in the previous year.
All counties had cases of exam irregularities, except Isiolo County with Nairobi, Makueni and Meru recording the highest. However, unlike in the past, the government has decided not to cancel results for entire schools, but only for those involved in cheating so that they can take individual responsibility.
The minister also revealed they are reviewing the issue of ranking. “My ministry is re-looking at this issue afresh and plans to re-engage all stakeholders on the issue so as to reach a consensus on how to possibly introduce a holistic method of ranking that takes into account a number of critical factors, including but not limited to schools’ performance in national examinations, co-curricular activities, physical facilities, leadership and governance, among others,” he said.
Despite its feat, Chavakali High would have been ranked at position 5 nationally with a mean score of 11.302 thanks to its large candidate population that stood at 630, according to unofficial estimates.