Probe causes of poor national exam results in North Eastern Province

Saturday Nation

Posted Wednesday, July 21 2010 at 17:14

It is true that schools from North Eastern Province are depressingly low performers in national examinations, both at Standard Eight and Form Four level.

The region’s top two candidates in last year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exam results, as usual, were not even in the top 1,000 students nationally. And of the 129 top schools countrywide, none were from this province.

Recently, Education minister, Prof Sam Ongeri, and Education Secretary, Prof George Godia, were on a one-week tour of the area.

They were reportedly told of the causes of the recurrent poor examination performance as a poor reading culture, early marriages (particularly among girls), cheating in examinations and shortages of education officers to enforce quality (DN, July 19).

To help improve the situation, the Nation Media Group and Safaricom Foundation are sponsoring the “Newspapers in Education” programme, which is aimed at creating interests in reading at young age.

The programme covers districts in Garissa and Wajir. Hopefully, it will be extended to Mandera, where learners are even more disadvantaged.

However, I strongly believe that no one single reason out of the four cited to the minister sufficiently explain the causes of the unsatisfactory performance of the students from this part of the country.

The poor reading culture is an outcome of complex social, economic and environmental issues. These are not unique to North Eastern Province.

Problems of shortages of education officers, early marriages among girls and cheating in examinations have not been proven to have a higher occurrence rate in this region than the national average.

For example, only a small percentage of last year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education candidates were reported to have cheated. Few of these were from this province.

The schools in North Eastern Province more resources in addition to the newspaper project in order to raise education standards and catch up with the rest of the country.

The Ministry of Education should research on the problems affecting this area and come up with effective policies to address them. We want our candidates in the top 50 nationally.