Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) results that were released by Cabinet Secretary for Education Ezekiel Machogu on Friday, January 20, continue to elicit mixed reactions.
The number of students who scored a mean grade of A (plain) rose from 1,138 in 2021 to 1,146 in 2022.
The distribution of the As though raised a major concern for a section of Kenyans as they were concentrated in a few top schools in the country.
While appearing on K24 TV on Monday, January 23, Fred Ogola who is an Academic Director and Senior Lecturer of Strategy and Decision Making claimed that the distribution could be because of the existence of Grade A principals.
“Is it not possible that there is a group of people who come together and look at how these results can be cooked?
“Instead of hiring base teachers to take students through the syllabus, these groups of people hire headteachers who can ensure exams work,” Ogolo posed.
The headteachers who ensure exams work are called Grade A principals according to Ogola.
“These principals ensure that they get examination papers much early plus the marking scheme.
“They grill their students through it ensuring that the whole class attains an A in the KCSE exam,” Ogola explained.
Do we have ‘Grade A’ Principals in Kenya?
Kenyans.co.ke spoke to Janet Muthoni Ouko who is a governance and education rights advocacy specialist on whether Grade A principals were true or myth.
“The results that were released by Machogu brought back a fear that used to exist in Kenya before 2016.
“A fear that KCSE results are manufactured or grades that have been influenced,” she remarked.
Muthoni explained that when Fred Matiang’i took over Education Ministry in November 2015, he brought credibility back to the education sector.
“Kenyans even coined a nickname in which they referred to an A as ‘Matiang’i A’ and anyone who got the Matiang’i 'A' meant that you had the tenacity and ground yourself to attain that,” she explained.
Muthoni opined that there is a perception that is growing that getting an A now does not necessarily mean you deserved that result.
On whether she agreed with Ogola that there is an existence of Grade A principals, the education expert noted Ogola’s statement was wrong and based on premature assessment.
“It would be wrong to generalize a scenario that does not affect a whole country, it is just a few schools that provided results that raised eyebrows,” she disagreed with Ogola.
“An A is not about the principal, it is about the student,” she added.
Why the uneven distribution of As in Kenya?
Muthoni revealed that education rights and advocacy groups will launch a vigorous campaign to compel Machogu to give Kenyans an account of how a school can come from a mean score of 4.9 to a mean of 9.
“We want him to do an investigation, be in charge and be fierce since it is true there are cartels in the sector.
“It will be very sad if we go back to the pre-Matiang’i era when performing exemplary was questioned,” she opined.
Muthoni though cautioned Kenyans from criticizing national schools that had a 100 per cent transition to university.
“I would be more concerned if the students in national schools did not score an A.
“These students scored an A in their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and it is only expected that they will replicate that in their KCSE exam,” she explained.