Uhuru speaks on fate of over 545, 000 KCSE candidates who did not score university entry grade

Uhuru speaks on fate of over 545, 000 KCSE candidates who did not score university entry grade

President Uhuru Kenyatta has advised 545, 700 candidates, who did not qualify for university admission after the release of 2017 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) results, to further their studies at technical training colleges which admit students with grades below C+ (Plus), which is the minimum score for university entry.

Addressing the nation at 7:30pm on Sunday, December 31, the Head of State said the government has invested heavily in enhancing quality of education offered at the vocational training colleges, which, he said, have increased in number since he ascended to the presidency in 2013.

“Our sons and daughters who graduate (from secondary schools) and do not go to university will have the choice to undertake technical education, which promises to gain them decent employment. This was yet another area of our attention, where we delivered new and upgraded technical training institutions throughout the republic,” said President Kenyatta in his New Year address to the nation.

President Kenyatta encouraged KCSE candidates, who did not attain minimum university entry grade, to take seriously their vocational training to increase their chances of getting jobs in the manufacturing and service industries – just like their counterparts, 70, 073 in number, who got mean grade C+ (Plus) in the 2017 national tests.

“In the coming years, as our investments in buildings, and investment-ready economy bears fruit, the graduates of these institutions will find jobs in the manufacturing, service as well as construction industries,” said President Kenyatta.

Basic certificate training opportunities such as police or prison warders admit students with at least D+ (Plus).

Many certificate courses have recently upgraded entry qualification to a minimum grade of C (Plain).

An analysis of the 2017 KCSE results shows that 135,550 candidates scored mean grade D (Plain), 179,381 grade D- (Minus) and 35,536 grade E.

Comparatively, in 2016 KCSE, there were 295,463 candidates who scored mean grades D (Plain) and below out of a candidature of 574,125.

Despite an uproar arising from different quotas about the high number of candidates scoring low grades in the national tests, President Kenyatta lauded the Ministry of Education for introducing stringent measures to curb the rot of national examination malpractices, which plagued the country in the past years.

“We have reformed our exam system and raised standards in our institutions of higher learning. We believe that education should be inclusive, not exclusive. We have delivered on this. And it is going to transform our children with our country,” said President Kenyatta.

Seventy thousand and seventy three (70, 073) students, who sat the 2017 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination attained minimum qualification grade of C+ (Plus) required to join public universities, representing 11.38 per cent of the 615, 773 candidates who sat for the national tests.

Male candidates dominated the fraction of students set to join public universities with 41, 687 (59.49 per cent) scoring mean grade C+ (Plus) and above.

Twenty eight thousand three hundred and eighty six (28, 386) female candidates, representing 40.51 per cent, qualified for university admission.

The number of students set to join public universities after 2017 KCSE exam dropped by 18, 856 compared to 2016 KCSE candidates, who registered 88, 929 students (15.41 per cent) with mean grade C+ (Plus) and above.

In KCSE 2016, 488324 candidates (84.59 per cent) fell short of mean grade C+ (Plus), which saw them locked out of university education.

Eighty one male students scored A (Plain) in 2017 KCSE, 1, 813 scored A- (Minus), 4, 596 attained mean grade B+ (Plus), 7, 738 scored B (Plain), 11, 631 scored B- (Minus) and 15, 828 scored  C+ (Plus) to complete the list of students who qualified to join universities.

Sixty one (61) female candidates, on the other hand, scored mean grade A (Plain) in 2017 KCSE, 901 attained A-(Minus), 2, 748 scored B+ (Plus), 4, 890 attained mean grade B (Plain), 7, 754 scored B- (Minus) and 12, 032 scored C+ (Plus) in the national tests.

The total number of candidates who scored mean grade A (Plain) are 142, A (Minus) are 2, 714, B+ (Plus) are 7, 344, B (Plain) are 12, 628, B- (Minus) are 19, 385 and 27, 860 scored mean grade C+ (Plus).

While releasing the 2017 KCSE results at the Nairobi School on December 20, Education Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i noted that 2017 KCSE candidates registered improved performances in 13 subjects, among them English, Mathematics and Geography.

Mr Matiang’i also revealed that county and extra-county schools posted commendable results in 2017 KCSE compared to 2016.

Mr Matiang’i put on notice teachers who do not give their best when imparting knowledge to their students.

“This year (2017) we noticed frustrating, desperate attempts by some teachers to open exam papers before time – some attempted to do that 30 minutes to exam time; principals included. Some of our teachers are not teaching, and they were desperate to have the candidates pass the exams by all means so that they can cover up for their actions. We will act on rogue teachers without mercy,” he said.


On December 21, 2017, Parliament’s Education Committee chairman Julius Melly, Opposition leader Raila Odinga and Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) secretary-general Wilson Sossion questioned the credibility of the 2017 KCSE results.

In separate statements, the leaders asked how only 11.38 per cent of the candidates managed to attain mean grade C+ (Plus) and above. They, consequently, called for a re-mark of the papers.

The leaders claimed Kenya’s education system was becoming wasteful.

Parliament’s Education Committee chairman Julius Melly said they (Education committee in the National Assembly) will demand a full report on the results.

“We have asked the Minister of Education to appear before the committee immediately we resume and to give us a very good report on how marking (of KCSE 2017) was done so that we can assess as the oversight committee of parliament to know where is the problem ailing the education sector,” said Melly on December 29, 2017.

The directive came a few days after NASA Members of Parliament said they will sponsor a motion to impeach the Education CS over mass failure in the 2017 national exams.

Mr Odinga called for a taskforce to investigate the poor performance in the 2017 KCSE test.

In a statement on December 21, Mr Odinga said the low transition from secondary school to university should be a cause for worry for the government, and Kenyans at large.

“Close to 90 per cent of the KCSE candidates have failed. This is very worrying,” he said.

Mr Odinga asked the Ministry of Education to address concerns raised by parents and teachers’ unions on the failure.

“As the country commits resources to free learning and scales up enrolment, the whole purpose and value for money is lost when close to 90 per cent of those students eventually fail,” he said.

KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion said: “The release of KCSE results before going through the required and mandatory moderation process is a blunder of monumental proportions. We condemn the release of the exam results in the strongest terms possible as it amounts to a fraud that has led to students mass failure. We hereby reject the results and demand immediate recall of the same.”

Despite the avalanche of criticism thrown his way, CS Matiang’i maintained that the 2017 KCSE results reflected the “reality” of students’ abilities.

“These results are the true picture of the performance of our children and the debate should be about how to go about improving the situation, not changing what has happened,” he said on December 22, 2017.