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House divided over abolished national examinations ranking

12 March 2015, 11:33 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi – A motion debated in the National Assembly demanding the Education ministry to revert ranking in national examinations stirred divisions among MPs supporting and those opposed to the system.

Kiminini MP, Chris Wamalwa who tabled the motion in the House, argues that the ministry’s decision to abolish ranking of schools and students has caused confusion and unnecessary anxiety as it was done without involving relevant investors in the education sector, teachers and parents and other stakeholders.

“Article 35 (1a) of the Constitution provides for the right of access to information held by the State. The move by the Ministry of Education to abolish ranking system in national examinations was arrived at without consultation with all relevant stakeholders including KUPPET, KNUT, the parent associations and investors in the sector, contrary to Article 118 of the Constitution,” reads part of the motion.

Wamalwa in his motion adds that ranking has been a long-held tradition in the sector both locally and internationally to spur positive competition, motivation, rewarding and a crucial criterion for resource allocation in various regions in the country.

“This House resolves that the Government through the Ministry immediately revert to the ranking system for nation national examination and specifically the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE),” goes on the motion.

The Kiminini MP held that banning ranking compromises standards of teaching and students’ performance thus a clear criterion on the ranking system required for proper benchmarking in the education sector.

“You will only know best performance in all sectors after ranking has been done. You can only know a school is doing well through benchmarking. Ranking helps establish problems in education such as inadequate learning facilities including laboratories for example MPs to use more CDF funds to help such schools,” said Wamalwa.

“We should revert in the ranking system we know and it has to be effected during the release of next national examinations,” he added.

Kipkelion East MP, Joseph Limo who supported the motion insisted that the country is among the developing nations where sector performance ranking is needed to measure its progress.

“We want order in the education sector because it is not the only sector whose performance is ranked in the country. The ministry itself is ranked on performance contract and the Cabinet Secretary cannot stop ranking,” said Limo.

Wajir County MP, Fatuma Ibrahim backed the motion saying ranking acts as a challenge for good performance and concealing information through abolishing the ranking only disincentives positive competition.

Read Also: Kenyans want return of KCSE school ranking

“My region is considered marginalized and ranking will help address problems in place. I have received many text messages from my people asking me to support ranking to help address the problem of poor performance in the area,” said Ibrahim.

Despite the abolition of the ranking, Ibrahim said nothing has been achieved from the ban because so far schools and students who performed well in last year’s national examination are already known.

Molo MP, Jacob Macharia in his support for the motion condemned the Education Cabinet Secretary, Jacob Kaimenyi for biasness by looking at negative effects of ranking while ignoring its positive contributions.

“The Cabinet Secretary has talked about teachers and students committing suicide due to poor performance, forced repeating of classes for students. There are policies that are yet to be effected for example on forced repeating of classes and this does not justify the abolition of ranking,” said Macharia.

“The intention of the Cabinet Secretary is good but Kenya is not ready for education system that has no ranking,” he added.

Nominated MP, Robert Mutua who is also a Bishop, threw his weight behind the motion maintaining that ranking helps identify poorly performing schools where it draws both public and government attention to intervene in problems affecting such institutions.

“Ranking does not cause problems as perceived but competition, unless the Education ministry is trying to hide its inefficiencies,” said Mutua.

“Ranking is an indicator of problems affecting the education sector and it should continue until all schools are endowed with needed learning facilities. We must rank them and take appropriate action,” said Mutua.

However, MPs who opposed the motion to revert the ranking argued that the system is unfair and discriminative, making education a commercial sector for private schools and turning students into “robots” only studying to pass examination at the expense of obtaining life skills.

Ugenya MP, Dave Ochieng opposed the motion saying the ranking of schools has contributed to ever-rising cases of examination irregularities such as cheating and bribery for certain schools to maintain status quo.

“I am deeply opposed to the motion because the ranking aims at politicizing education, particularly some MPs want to be called that their schools from their constituencies have performed well nationally. We don’t want to rely on mini-scores to categorize children through ranking,” said Ochieng.

“Teachers are focusing on making headlines in national examinations by turning children into machines with their improper teaching,” he added.

Kisumu County MP, Rose Nyamunga opposed the motion saying that most schools lack adequate learning facilities thus ranking undermines equality among students.

“Most schools are in pathetic conditions. We can’t compare well-equipped urban schools to poorly equipped rural schools. If ranking should be there, it should be done at County level because the schools’ conditions are almost at the same level and should involve both academics and co-curriculums,” said Nyamunga.

Temporary Speaker, Tom Kajwang’ who presided over the debating session on the motion, pushed the session to Wednesday next week where after the debating, MPs will vote to decide whether the proposed examination ranking system should be reverted or remain abolished by the Ministry.

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