Why we might be killing the golden goose as we focus on reforms

The beginning of a new year has conventionally brought with it a medley of several events and activities that set pace for normalcy after the holiday festivities.

The unforgiving expenses and travel technicalities take the order of the day causing vents and outcries from parents. Notwithstanding, be as it may, this vicious cycle that succeeds the unconstrained spending during the December holidays is not the major conversation that revolves around this sector, rather the implementation of the new curriculum and the ‘mass’ failure recorded in the recently released KCSE results.


Much as it might be that the grades that students get in the secondary school do not necessarily determine their ultimate success or failure in their lives, our norms, paradigms and social structure tend to betray us almost on equal terms.

It is the very reason why any efforts made to inculcate better ways to see our education system and the nature in which it should be used to benefit individuals and the society, should be done with great stealth.

We have been made to believe that good grades imply great futures and poor ones predict doom. This is certainly a tragic and dangerous state of mind that not only jeopardises great talent that could have changed the source of livelihoods for several households in the country but also robs the economy the human capital.


As such, it is imperative that moderation become central in the reforms. These reforms are tantamount to not only making an impoverished villager learn to work hard to make a living but could also change their thinking to believe that they too can make the best out of themselves regardless of where they are in life. The fact that we had reported cases of two students deciding to take their lives after they received results that were not consistent to their expectations simply implies that there are thousands others who faced similar predicaments but did not resolve to end their lives.

They are possibly awash in the cold realms of shattered dreams, with no hope of ever making it in life by account of their education qualifications. The bitter truth, however, is that our systems of employments and the bridging training institutions from high school have not yet managed to accommodate such individuals and therefore it will be up to them to start fending for themselves the hard economic times notwithstanding.

Whereas we take pride in having arguably competent personnel at the helm of the education sector, concerted efforts to run fruitful nationwide conversation on making the system better will remain indispensable. Presently, we could possibly argue that the ministry shot itself on the foot if the statistics from the KCSE results are anything to go by.

The system is supposedly meant to enable students pursue their careers beyond secondary school so that they can contribute to the national development agenda through various occupations.

When the same institutions cannot absorb the students because of the qualification barriers it perhaps beats logic where they would find refuge and pursue their dreams considering that the low grades are not an indication that they totally cannot do anything useful in life.


Analysis of the results will show that 135,550 candidates scored D, 179, 381 grade D- and 35, 536 grade E. Just recently, many of the certificate courses upgraded their entry qualification to a minimum of C.

That therefore implies that more than half the candidates who sat for the last year’s Form Four examinations failed and cannot, by virtue of their performance, proceed to higher education nor secure gainful employment in the country.

The fact that at least 350,000 candidates scored D and below also mean that many will not only miss out on the professional courses but also on other training opportunities such as police and game warders. Undoubtedly, that calls for a relook into the structure of these programmes or the entry criteria for particularly these students if at all their interest are to be counted having been intently considered.

In the grand scheme of things, it is important it be noted that university education is key in helping the country achieve the national goals. Policy makers and all other drivers of the national dockets in various avenues need to have the qualification which will attract more young people to be prepared to pursue it.

Consequently, the government should also continue to ensure credibility and quality of the education offered at these universities and colleges is maintained and upgraded from time to time.

The 70,073 students who scored C+ and above thus qualifying for university entry implies an absolute absorption of this lot. The private universities are unlikely to have a good number from these students who sat for exams last year indicating that the system is hurting.

In addition, it is indisputable that every institution has a role they are mandated to play in creating futures for the young people including the village polytechnics, technical training institution and universities. Investment made by the government into these programmes should be utilised accordingly.


The trend in performance in the last two years would mean imminent deterioration in the spirit with which the stakeholders in the education sector would want to transform the system to become abreast with the needs of the current job market as well as the bustling economy that is deficient of job creators.

The government has set aside sh. 56 billion for the purpose of facilitating free day school secondary education. The aim here should be to achieve 100% transition from primary to secondary schools. It would be wasteful if the trend of poor performance as the one recorded in 2017 KCSE recurs watering down all efforts to sanitize the system.

Source: https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001265950/what-poor-grades-in-exams-say-about-us
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