1st September 2016
By Evan Wambugu
President Uhuru Kenyatta signed into law the Kenya National Examination Council Amendment Bill 2016 into law on 31st August 2016.The bill was introduced by Kiminini Member Of Parliament, Dr. Chrisantus Wamalwa Wakhungu in February 2016.
School ranking in KCPE and KCSE Exam has been reinstated after it was abolished during Professor Jacob Kaimenyi’s tenure as the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in November 2014.
National ranking of primary and high schools in national examinations is bollocks. The anomalies that are captured with this rankings produces an unreasonable and unfair assessment of our education system.
The quality of education in Kenya is very subjective. It makes no sense ranking students at national exams since there isn’t an iota of impartiality in the process. The index of using KCPE and KCSE to indicate which institution is ‘better than the other’ is highly misplaced.
The usage of national examinations ranking as a proxy for quality of schools and students is ludicrous. Dr. Fred Okengo Matiangi, the current, overzealous Cabinet Secretary of the ministry shouldn’t have allowed this to pass under his nose. At a time when he is working round the clock to introduce sweeping reforms in the education sector, this is one of the things that he shouldn’t have let happen.
It’s worth noting that this criteria of gauging performance of schools and their candidates since the advent of the 8.4.4 system of training learners in our institution ushered in a tradition of mediocre cut-throat competition between schools for the top slots in the national list. With it came an unethical routine of teachers in the candidate class coaching their candidates on how to ace the tests. So it became fashionable that candidates were trained on how to tackle the exams in a bid to emerge the best. In the process, the quality of education was diluted.
Learners in private schools and top public schools enjoy access to superior learning material as compared to their counterparts in the public schools who only have access to disproportionate and inadequate material.
This ill-advised move by the head of state flies in the face of the recommendations by the task force on education reforms by the Kilemi Mwiria -led team.
The unscrupulous practices that were employed by schools to get it to the big list are part of the reason there has been massive cheating in KCPE and KCSE exams. It is therefore ironical that the president would append his signature on a document that contradicts the efforts of the ministry to curb the menace of exam cheating.
The perceived value of an unfair conclusion that School A is better than School B simply because School A beat School B in KCPE and KCSE is laughable. Cheaters in rankings will have a field day once again because of this. Classification of candidates based on their academic performance in national exams is immaterial as far creating an environment where quality of education is concerned.
To imagine that the competition will raise the standards of learning or give the value of our education system a better face is to shoot ourselves in the foot.
Intellectual endowment of learners doesn’t always reflect in the test scores because it is recognizable that some of the most successful folks in life were average or below average test-takers but exceptional innovators and creators.
Sustaining the world of academic knowledge through ranking is difficult. Pinning the expectation of emerging technology and progressive ideas on such a system is ill-motivated. The die has been cast. We are back to square one. The mediocrity of test-based learning is back.
The unparalleled index of academic power has resurrected. The culture of progressive foundations of knowledge and the ambience that we have long expected in academia might never come to fruition, especially in the current education system and with the current curricula at both primary schools and secondary schools. This is a symbolic gesture and manifestation that the current clash between transitions in academia and quality impact with a focus on the sound value on economic aspects of our state is here to stay. We have to reconfigure the strategies we employ in improving our education system.