On April 26 2012 Kenya National Examination Council released a press statement advising 2012KCPE candidates that they have opened a window up to 11 May 2012 in which they can check and revise their examination details. This was occasioned by elevation of some 30 secondary schools to national category by the Ministry of Education after the KCPE registration exercise by schools had been concluded. This means that most candidates who choose those schools chose them under their previous category. For such candidates to continue having a chance to be admitted to the same schools, Kenya National Examination Council informs them that they MUST revise their secondary school selection and choose them under the new category. Failure to do so would mean that they cannot be admitted to these schools even if they qualify as the school code, which is used by the computer during form one selection has already been changed as shown in the table at the end of this article.
As parent rush to make the necessary changes, it is important that they consider some tips that if followed would increase the chance of their children being admitted to secondary schools of their choice. Two most frequent questions that I had to answer soon after form one admission was done during my work as a District Education Officer were:-
1. My child had scored so many marks but was not admitted to this National school yet so and so who scored less than my child was admitted. Why?
2. My child did not choose school “A” yet he/she was admitted there yet there were some children who had lower marks that my child yet they were admitted to the school my child had chosen. Why?
To answer the first question, parents need to realize that admission to national schoosl is purely done on choice and KCPE performance. Even if a candidate is the best in the country, he cannot be admitted to Alliance high school for instance unless he had chosen it. Thus one has to choose a school to be admitted during form one selection. The second important thing to note is that each county in the country is allocated a certain quota in each of the national schools. If a certain county is allocated 3 slot in Alliance High school, those that are admitted are the first three candidates on KCPE merit in the county that had chosen Alliance high school as a first choice. The first 10 candidate on KCPE merit in Nyeri County for instance, in most cases have higher KCPE mean score than those in Samburu , Mandera and Kilifi county. What this means is that candidates from Samburu, Mandera and Kilifi may be admitted to Alliance high school and indeed any other national school at lower KCPE men score than those from Nyeri County. This partly answers question one.
It is however also important to note that whether you choose a given school as a first, second or third choice among it category also determine whether you are admitted to the school or not, particularly so in national schools. The computer used for form one selection is programmed such that it chooses those who picked a given as a first choice first and only goes to the second choice if it exhaust those who have chosen the given school as first choice. It therefore goes without saying that competitive schools such as Alliance boys and girls, Mangu High, Moi girls Eldoret and Miranda will hardly ever have a candidate who have chosen the school as second choice being picked by the computer for admission. As such a candidate in a given county with a mean score of 430 for instance would fail to be admitted to Alliance high school if he had chosen the school as a second choice and yet a candidate who scored 420 in the same county who had chosen the school as first choice be admitted.
A rule of the thumb therefore is, Choose those competitive national schools such as Alliance, Starehe, Mangu, Loreto limuru, Moi girls Eldoret, Maranda among others only as first choice.
The second important thing to note is that competition in the above schools is likely to increase tremendously for most 2012 KCPE candidates with the increase of national schools instead of decreasing. It has been suggested that selection of form places in national schools may be revised such that a larger quota is reserved for candidates from the county in which a given national secondary school is situated. If this is adopted, it means that a candidate stands a better chance of being admitted to a national school found in the county where the candidate is registered for KCPE examination. What this means for instance is that it would be even more competitive for KCPE candidates sitting for KCPE in other counties other than Kiambu to be admitted to Alliance boys and girls, Mangu high, Loreto Limuru girls and Limuru Girls high school. This is because more slots would be available to those in Kiambu county and the remaining would have to be shared by all the others throughout the country
Revision on form one selection should therefore be based on the fact that the above could be a reality though just but a proposal at the moment. The positive side of it is that candidates have now a wider selection of other national school if they are not admitted to those competitive national schools. It would be advisable for a candidate to choose a competitive school among the ones mentioned above among others as first choice followed by any of the new national school especially one in the county where the candidate will sit for the KCPE examination as second and third choice. I strongly advise a candidate against choosing Alliance and Mangu or Alliance girls and Moi girls Eldoret at the same time. If you fail to be admitted to the first one you more than often also fail to qualify for the second one. Choose a school that is less competitive as second choice to increase the chance of admission to a national school.
To answer the second question, the computer used in form one selection is programmed as we have seen above to pick those who have chosen a given school as first choice first based on merit. A given county school will fill the quota allocated to a given county (let say 100 pupils) with the first 100 candidates on the merit list who had chosen the school. A situation may arise where a candidate chooses schools that fill the allocated quota with candidates who have scored higher than him/her but still qualify to be admitted to a county school as not all schools may have filled their allocated quotas. The computer is programmed such that it can not leave a candidate without being allocate a school so long as there are some schools with vacancies yet to fill. Such a candidate is allocated by the computer to any of the school with vacancies yet to fill at random. This explains why a candidate may be admitted to a school that was not chosen. To avoid this candidates are advised against choosing schools that are all very competitive. Get advice on how competitive schools are from experienced teachers or the local education office. The District Education office in particular could be very useful in providing cut off KCPE scores for the 2011 KCPE candidates admitted to various secondary schools. This could be used as a basis of determining the competiveness of a given school. Most important though, know the strength of the candidate to estimate the most likely range of KCPE Examination scores he/ she may attain and choose the school accordingly.