06 January, 2017
Many Kenyans were surprised after the education minister released results of the country's 2016 university entrance exam.
Just 15 percent of the more than 500,000 students who took the exam passed it. The results are much lower than last year.
Some people believe the results are lower because officials took action to reduce cheating on the test.
The number of students who received the highest test grade in 2016 dropped by 95 percent compared to one year earlier.
In one school, with 202 students, everyone received the highest grade in 2015. But in 2016, only 141 students in the entire country did.
The test results were released two months earlier than expected. Kenyan media reports say education officials released the results early after some school officials pressured them to give their students high grades.
Some principals have been accused of offering payments of $100 to $160 to examiners to give their students high grades.
John Mugo works at a non-profit group called Twaweza East Africa. He says education officials will be forced to answer a lot of questions because of the test results.
"Questions are being raised on whether those, those heads or the management, should be brought to account to the public. What happened? If they were involved in massive irregularities, then I think we should not just keep quiet. They should be made to account. But then, then the other question that Kenyans have is quality. Are students really learning or have we been drilling them to just pass the test, such that when the test changes slightly, then they all fail?"
Education expert Tomkin Baraza says the university entrance exam is now credible, and the test results believable. But there is another question that must be answered.
"But now, we look at how many students who were affected, where are we going to have them? The ministry should come up with a way to ensure that at least the majority of the students at least go somewhere..."
George Magoha is the chairman of the Kenya National Examinations Council. He says students can be successful even if they do not have high grades.
Kenya's ministry of education said it will take a close look at the problem after the shocking test results.
I'm Lucija Millonig.
Mohamed Yusuf reported this story from Nairobi. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted his report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
entire – adj. complete or full; not lacking or leaving out any part
brought to account – expression held accountable or responsible; blamed
irregularity – n. something that is not usual or proper and that usually indicates dishonest behavior (usually plural)
drill – v. to teach or train (someone) by repeating a lesson or exercise again and again
demoralize – v. to cause (someone) to lose hope, courage, or confidence; to weaken the morale of (a person or group)
twisted – adj. harmed; negatively affected; strange and unpleasant; not normal