When the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination results were released two weeks ago, many candidates who performed well expressed their desire to join particular school.
However, when the selection for national schools was done on Monday, many were disappointed after failing to get into schools that they had hoped to join.
Benson Njenga, who scored 431 marks, had hoped to join Alliance High School but was instead invited to St Patrick's High School in Iten, Elgeyo-Marakwet County.
Njenga, who was a candidate at Familia Takatifu Primary School in Rumuruti, Laikipia County, believed that his marks would guarantee him a place at Alliance High School. "I am very disappointed that after working so hard for eight years to join my dream school they have decided to offer me a place at St Patrick Iten High School, yet it was not my first choice," he said.
"I have always dreamt of joining Alliance High School because it is among the best schools in the country and it has a long history of performing well," he told the Nation.
Asked why he was not comfortable with St Patrick's, he said that he did not know about the school's performance. "Secondary education determines one's future, that is why I don't want to join a school whose performance I am not sure about," he offered.
Meanwhile, Jane Mutua, who topped Taita-Taveta County with 430 marks, will be joining Pangani Girls High School in Nairobi and not Kenya High School, her first choice. "I am very disappointed and demoralised because that was not my choice of school," she said, adding that she considers Pangani less competitive than Kenya High.
Also to join Pangani against her will is Martina Abiona, who scored 421 marks, and expected to join Alliance Girls High School. "I wish I could join another school," she said.
Also disappointed is Nuru Yoyo Juma, who obtained 408 marks at St Jane's Primary School in Kwale town. She wanted to join Lugulu Girls High School but was selected to join Bahari Girls High School in Kilifi County instead.
Ezra Mogambi scored 431 marks at Radiance Academy in Nakuru and wanted to join Alliance High School but will be going to Kapsabet Boys High School. "I feel I would be better placed to compete at the giant school but I'm not sure about the school that I have been selected to join," said the 14-year-old.
His schoolmate, Mercy Kang'ethe, scored 400 marks and was hoping to join Pangani Girls High School in Nairobi but was selected to join Kolanya Girls in Busia County. "I am not comfortable joining the school since it was not among my choices. I cannot imagine covering hundreds of kilometres from home to school. I have neither heard of the school nor been to the area," she said.
Prudence Wanjiru, also from Radiance Academy, scored 401 marks. Her hopes of joining Pangani Girls High School were dashed after she was selected to join Mama Ngina Girls High School in Mombasa.
But Cliff Paul has taken things in his stride. He scored 421 marks and wanted to join Starehe Boys Centre but he has been selected to join Maseno School. "I don't regret it because Maseno is also a good school," he told the Nation.
His schoolmate Nemuel Kebaso scored 414 and will be joining Nairobi School.
Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Mombasa Executive Secretary Dan Aloo said the selection was not free and fair, and that it favoured pupils from the rich families.
"We expected all players to be involved in the selection to monitor the process. How did they ensure that students in public schools were given priority over those from private schools? They cannot be given equal shares. A Turkana pupil cannot be compared to one in Mombasa. They should start with the most needy, special needs, public schools then private schools," said Mr Aloo.
However, Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said the Ministry carried out the Form One selection using fair and accurate criteria.
"All candidates had an equal chance of getting selected to their preferred schools based on merit, equity, choice and affirmative action. More fundamentally, the Ministry worked to ensure 100 percent transition from primary to secondary education in order to give meaning to free and compulsory basic education," said Ms Mohamed.
All 12,222 candidates who scored 400 marks, including 19 special-needs candidates selected to regular schools, were placed in national schools.
The top five candidates from every sub-county were also placed in national schools on the basis of their choices where possible.
A total of 31,337 students were selected to join national schools.
Many students still prefer the 18 original national schools.
Meanwhile, the selection of 999,371 students to join extra-county, county and sub-county schools begins Thursday and end on Friday.
The exercise will be conducted in 10 regions and will be supervised by senior Ministry of Education officials, including Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang.
A total of 128,838 students will join extra-county schools while county schools will admit 148,215 students.
Sub-county schools will admit the highest number of students (722,318) while special-needs schools will admit 1,626 students.
Ms Mohamed said all Form Ones should report on January 7, and not later than January 11.