90 Percent of Kenyan Students Failed Secondary Exams

28 December, 2017

In Kenya, some 90 percent of students who took the 2017 secondary education exams failed.

Opposition lawmakers are calling on the government to investigate why so many students did not pass. The minister of education, however, expressed satisfaction with the results.

Caleb Amisi is an opposition lawmaker. He told reporters that parliament must understand what led to only 10 percent of students scoring high enough to enter university.

FILE - Kenyan students ride the bus to their school, Jan. 14, 2008.
FILE - Kenyan students ride the bus to their school, Jan. 14, 2008.

"Kenya National Examination Council must be ordered to prepare and present a comprehensive report over this perceived mass failure," Amisi said. He added that some of Kenya's most trustworthy companies should help with an independent investigation.

The exam results created concern among parents, teachers and others. They worry about the fate of the students and the quality of Kenya's education system.

One of the key questions is what caused the high failure rate among the some 600,000 students who took the test. Are students, teachers, or the curriculum to blame? Or was the problem a quick grading process that saw educators go through the exams in just three weeks?

Mark Nyamita, an opposition lawmaker, says the problem needs to be fixed. If not, millions of young Kenyans will be barred from higher education.

"If this goes on in this government over the next five years, we are going to have a whopping 2.5 million-plus people with their future shuttered," he said.

Officials are satisfied with results

Some Kenyan officials say the mass failure resulted from efforts to reduce cheating. In an interview with Citizen Television, Education Minister Fred Matiangi hinted that explanation might be true. He suggested the results show the true state of Kenyan education.

"I am very satisfied with the results we have had in the last two years, 2016 and 2017, because we have lived a lie for such a long time," Matiangi said. "Time is here for us now to deal with the truth."

Calls are growing for a national conference to resolve the crisis and decide what to do about the students who failed the exams.

Lawmakers will likely discuss the issue in the National Assembly in February.

I'm John Russell.

Mohammed Yusuf reported on this story for VOA News. John Russell adapted it for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.


Words in This Story

satisfaction – n. something that makes you happy, pleased, or satisfied

comprehensive – adj. including many, most, or all things

curriculum – n. the courses that are taught by a school, college, etc.

whopping – adj. (always used before a noun - informal) very large, impressive, etc.

hint – v. to say (something) or give information about (something) in an indirect way