4 March 2014

Kenya: 'Sheng' and Electronic Communication Devices to Blame for Poor Performance in English, Says Kaimenyi

Nairobi — Professor Jacob Kaimenyi, the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology on Monday, March 03 faulted use of slang language and electronic communication devices as the main cause for decline in performance in English by secondary students.

"This decline has been attributed to the increased use of "sheng" in our schools, the consistent use of electronic communication devices such as mobile phones and computers that have done away with the need to know how to construct sentences and spell words correctly due to "spell checking" and "predictive text" capabilities," said Kaimenyi.

Kaimenyi was speaking during the release of the 2013 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations results at Mitihani House where he presided over the function. He further asked the Directorate of Quality Assurance and Standards to investigate the causes of the decline in performance and take "corrective action".

English recorded the highest decline in performance in the year 2013 KCSE examination when compared to the year 2012 while the overall performance of candidates in the 2013 KCSE Examination according to the statement remained relatively at the same level compared to that of 2012; 27.46% of the candidates obtained the minimum university entry qualification of C+ in 2013 compared to 28.36% candidates in 2012. This was a slight drop of 0.9% meaning more candidates will miss out on university chances.

"I wish to note that the closure of schools during last year's General elections and teachers' strike could have led to the slight decrease in the number of candidates scoring a grade of C+ and above in this year's KCSE examination," explained Kaimenyi.

The Education Cabinet Secretary used the occasion to clarify recent media reports of the introduction of a new language policy by ministry of education, where the medium of instruction in primary schools was to be changed to the local languages.

"To clear any doubt, I would like to state that the language policy outlined in the media reports is not new," said Kaimenyi in the press statement. "This has been in use over the years and was adopted after being recommended in 1976 by the National Committee of Education Objectives and Policies, commonly referred to as the Gachathi Commission whose recommendation was reinforced in the Sessional Paper No 14 of 2012 on reforming education and training sectors in Kenya."

"Learning theories backed by research indicate that the use of local languages as a medium of instruction in the formative years offers many advantages because it ensures smooth transition from the home to the school environment for first time school-goers," he added.

Over 450,000 students sat for last year's KCSE exams with Alliance Boys and Moi High School Kabarak producing the best performing students; King'ori Tom Wanderi of Alliance High emerged the best candidate, posting a mean score of 87.11.

Meanwhile Principal Secretary Ministry of Science and Technology, Prof Colleta Sudi said that students who fail to make it to universities need to consider joining middle level colleges in pursuit of their careers after high school exams.

According to the PS, there are over 40 middle level colleges in the country termed as Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TIVET) that offer quality training for the youth.

Prof Sudi said that for the country to realize the dreams enshrined in the vision 2030 it would require the skills of the middle level professionals at all levels.

"We need very many plumbers, a lot of masons and people skilled in electrical installations... the beautiful building you see in this town and elsewhere in this are designed by architects and are built by masons and these are the caliber of professionals who will drive the economy of this country," said Prof Sudi.

The principal Secretary added that students can always go through the technical institutions and at the end of it get to universities and earn their degrees.

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