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Country Update: Kenya – Not a Single “A” in English

Country Update, News

With a new Minister of Education at the helm, Kenya cracked down in 2016 on suspected widespread “leakage” of questions on the national high school leaving exam (KCSE). The crackdown was accompanied by a new Ministry-mandated standard for marking, and the 2016 results showed a dramatic drop in the number of high scores.

Of the 577,253 students who sat for the exam in 2016, only 141 scored mean grades of A plain (0.025%), compared with the 2,685 (0.5%) who did so in 2015. Not a single student achieved an “A” in English in 2016, and only 28 students nationwide were awarded an “A-“.

John Manners, Executive Director of the HALI member Kenya Scholar-Athlete Project (KenSAP), predicts “this drastic readjustment may prove a salutary corrective to creeping grade inflation, but it seems likely that the pendulum will swing back to the middle before too long.”

With not a single A grade for English awarded in the country, Kenyan students applying to universities in English-speaking countries may have to rely increasingly upon TOEFL, SAT or ACT standardized tests to prove their proficiency in what is an official language in their home country.


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