The 2022 KCSE results leave a lot to be desired. Out of 881,416 candidates who sat the exam, 489,081 scored Grade D-plus and below and only 173,345 managed C-plus to qualify for university admission.
Truth be told, sitting a national exam can be a nerve-racking experience. Therefore, after waiting for results for a month with breathless anticipation, it was a celebration galore for the under 20 per cent top achievers and doom and gloom for more than half of the candidates, who missed university.
In the previous exam, 441 candidates were implicated in cheating and their results were cancelled. But in the latest one, there was no cancellation of results due to exam irregularities.
According to Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu, his ministry, in collaboration with other ministries, instituted stringent measures and sealed all loopholes to secure the integrity of the national exams. Understandingly, the obsession with good results has been blamed for malpractices in national exams.
While the government has increased the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutes to accommodate as many students as possible, the unpalatable truth is that most village polytechnics and vocational training centres are unable to accommodate all Standards Eight and Form Four graduates over inadequate finances, infrastructure and staff and negativity towards them.
Saturated job market
The number of students entering secondary schools has increased in recent years and is not commensurate with the funding. In 2021, for example, 826,807 candidates— 54,609 less than last year’s—sat the KCSE exam.
It is, therefore, regrettable that every year our education system churns out hundreds of thousands of Form Four leavers into the saturated job market who are bereft of employable and marketable skills, hence an astronomical unemployment rate in recent years. The failure in education and high unemployment are worrisome yet studies show the government requires Sh65 billion to fully fund the post-KCSE transition.
While a low score in an exam does not necessarily mean failure in life, it behoves the government to put measures in place to shun depressingly poor performance in exams. Lack of infrastructure, sporadic funding, understaffing and crowded classrooms owing to the 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary school adds up to a crisis.
There is, therefore, an unprecedented urgency for expanding tertiary institutions and universities. The recent government proposal to merge Helb and TVET funds should be given more thought lest some students are educationally disadvantaged. University study should not be the monopoly of the rich, hence an elitist education system.
Thankfully, it is estimated that the Ruto administration will spend Sh630 billion over the next five years on education reforms. Sustainable development cannot take place in the absence of quality education and poor funding. The time to walk the talk is now. Tomorrow might be too late.
Mr Muthama is a business and strategic management lecturer at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), consultant, and author. Email: [email protected]