KCPE exam: should it be thrown out?
The recent call by MP Jeremiah Kioni for the abolition of KCPE exams has generated much controversy. The KCPE exams were introduced in 1985 ostensibly to act as a screening tool for high school applicants. Those with the highest scores go on to secure places in the national schools. Then there would be those who would have performed quite well and who will go to the provincial schools. The rest would end up in district, village or harambee schools. Still, the academic ambitions of most students would come to an abrupt end as there are not enough secondary schools in the country to absorb the standard eight students. While an exam system is supposed to assess a student’s knowledge and skills, it is still up for debate whether KCPE exams meet these goals. In most cases, it serves as a selection tool to weed out students the system doesn’t want. This is certainly a serious danger that the country is getting into.
The first KCPE was passed by Naeem Samnakay, who again passed the KCSE exams four years later at Alliance High School. He is currently a pediatric surgeon in Australia. However, not many KCPE stars have had such amazing success. Some fell by the wayside and did not appear among the top KCSE students. Could it be that KCPE and KCSE test completely different abilities and therefore the difference in tables? Do the tests measure critical thinking, analytical thinking, and creativity, or is it simply a case of who can regurgitate the most information? These are serious questions that educators in Kenya must answer if the exams are to serve any useful purpose. Otherwise, the calls from abolitionists will be even louder.