Class 5 and 6 Pupils in Kenya Cannot do Simple Math - Report

  • Students pictured during a lesson.
    Students pictured during a lesson.
  • A report titled International Common Assessment Numeracy (ICAN), released on July 9, ranked Kenya's Grade 5 and 6 students last in the world when it came to foundational numeracy tasks.

    According to the survey carried out by People’s Action for Learning (PAL), 36.6% of that particular group of Kenyan pupils could not tell simple data display, time and day and date on the calendar.

    "Eight percent found it harder to read the calendar and tell what day or date it was," the assessment report published by Chief Executive Officer of PAL, Sarah Ruto, who also serves as the chairperson of the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), reads in part.

    ICAN 2020 was carried out in 2019, where one district/county was picked from each of the 13 countries under review.

    File image of a teacher and students in class
    File image of a teacher and students in a class

    The 13 regions were listed as: Kenya, Bangladesh, India, Mali, Mexico, Mozambique, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda.

    Some of the tasks the pupils were tasked with included geometry on position and direction, shapes and figures, measurement on length and capacity, time and calendar and data display on retrieving simple information.

    From the Grade 2 and 3 pool, only 4.5% of learners managed to meet the international numeracy criteria, with Kenya's neighbours leading the group after Tanzania recorded a  53% score, while and Uganda attained 56.8%, the highest score among the 13 countries.

    In Kenya, Only 36.6% of learners in grades 4, 5 and 6 were found able to tackle foundational numeracy tasks. Once again, the country fell well behind Tanzania, which scored 72.4%, and Uganda which led the 13 countries with 81.4%

    "The evidence we have shows children around the world are not learning enough to improve their own and their countries' and communities’ lives," Sarah noted within the report.

    Notably, in the aforementioned group, only India (77.3%), Pakistan (76.4%) and Nepal (80.4%) achieved the 75% pass mark.

    Interestingly, although the research team picked it sample students from Mwala, Machakos County, the mean numeracy score for children aged 6-16 years in Mwala is 56.3% as compared to the national score of 56.2%, according to the 2015 Uwezo Kenya assessment.

    The report comes just a week after Education CS George Magoha suspended plans to reopen schools on September 1, 2020, as the number of Coronavirus cases continued to spike.

    He announced that all basic learning institutions would be reopened in January 2021, adding that the KCPE and KCSE exams slated for 2020 had been cancelled. 

    CS Education Prof George Magoha while releasing 2019 KCPE results at Mitihani House in Nairobi on Monday November 18, 2019
    CS Education Prof George Magoha while releasing 2019 KCPE results at Mitihani House in Nairobi on Monday November 18, 2019
    Simon Kiragu