The overall outcome of the 2020 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams was better than in 2019, despite the long break occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.
And while the highest score was 433 marks, lower than the top score of 440 marks out of a possible 500 in 2019, it is remarkable that last year only a total of 307 candidates scored below 99 marks.
"Although the mark of the highest candidate dropped from 440 to 433 in 2020, the mean average performance and quality of grades for all candidates is higher," said Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha when he released the results yesterday.
In the 2020 KCPE exams, a total of 8,091 scored between 400 and 500 marks, compared to 9,673 in that range of marks in 2019.
Those who scored between 300 and 399 marks are 282,090, a figure that is way higher than 242,821 in the same range in 2019.
A total of 589,027 scored between 200 and 299 marks in last year's exams, compared to 566,069 in the previous year.
Some 299,677 candidates had between 100 and 199 marks, compared to 263,500 in 2019.
Unlike in 2019, where a total of 1,393 candidates scored between 0 and 99 marks, in the 2020 exams only 307 candidates scored 99 marks and below.
In terms of gender, girls performed better than boys.
Improvement in five papers
Prof Magoha said girls did slightly better than their male counterparts in English, Kiswahili and Kenyan Sign Language.
The candidates were examined in five subjects - English, Swahili, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and Religious Studies.
Those with special needs were examined in Kenyan sign language.
"Male candidates performed slightly better than their female counterparts in Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and Religious Education," said Prof Magoha.
There was improvement in five papers in the year 2020 when compared to 2019.
These are English Composition, Kiswahili Lugha, Kenyan Sign Language Objective, Mathematics and Religious Education.
Prof Magoha said there was, however, a drop in five other subjects last year, compared to 2019.
The five that recorded a drop are English Language, Kiswahili Insha, Kenyan Sign Language Composition, Science and Social Studies.
A total of 1,179,192 candidates sat the exams in 28,460 centres.
Of these candidates, 590,450 (50.07 per cent) were boys and 588,742 (49.93 per cent) girls.
In 2019, some 1,083,456 candidates sat the examinations.
This means the number of candidates who sat the national exams increased by 95,736 (8.84 per cent) in 2020 compared to 2019.
Male and female candidates increased by 46,868 (8.62 per cent) and 48,868 (9.25 per cent) respectively.
The data shows 20 counties had more female than male candidates. These are Isiolo, Meru, Vihiga, Kakamega, Busia, Nairobi, Kwale, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Siaya, Tharaka-Nithi, Kisii, Kisumu, Bungoma, Kilifi, Lamu, Bomet, Mombasa, Uasin Gishu, Makueni and Migori.
Prof Magoha said this was an increase from 18 counties that registered more female than male candidates in 2019.
Candidates who did not sit the exams increased slightly from 6,272 (0.58 per cent) in the year 2019, to 12,424 (1.04 per cent) last year.
Candidates with special needs
Prof Magoha attributed the increase to the long break occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior engaged chiefs to ensure candidates report back to schools. It is unfortunate that some did not," said Prof Magoha.
The highest score among candidates in Special Needs Education (SNE) schools was 420 marks, some six marks above the candidate in this category, who score 414 in the 2019 KCPE exams.
The number of SNE candidates was higher (2,675) last year than in 2019 (2,407).
Prof Magoha said this improvement was an indication that performance in the 2020 KCPE was commendable and that SNE children, given a fair and conducive environment, can excel.
Overall, nine SNE candidates scored between 400 and 500 marks compared to 11 in 2019.
A total of 318 candidates in this category scored between 300 and 399 marks, 897 between 200 and 299 marks, 1,356 candidates scored between 100 and 199 marks while 11 candidates scored between one and 99 marks.