Addressing the Decline in KCPE Math and Science Scores: A Call to Action

Thursday’s release of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination results once again emphasizes a pressing need: concerted efforts must be made to address the persistent decline in mathematics and science performance among students.

For the second consecutive year, there has been a decline in the number of candidates who achieved an impressive score of 400 marks or more. This year, the figure stands at 8,525; however, last year marked a higher number with 9,445, an even greater difference compared to 2021 when there were as many as 11,857 such high-scoring individuals. This trend carries significant implications, as these subjects play a critical role in molding our educational landscape, and warrants attention due to its concerning nature.

The number of students scoring less than 100 marks has alarmingly tripled, skyrocketing from 722 to 2,060. This dramatic increase intensifies the urgency of our situation. Beyond a mere statistical concern, it illuminates a broader issue: a systemic challenge demanding immediate attention.

An in-depth analysis of the examination papers uncovers a disconcerting reality: in 80 percent of the 10 tests, candidates achieved lower scores. These subjects span from mathematics to Kiswahili Insha, Composition, Science, and Social Studies, pointing towards an extensive decline that hints at deeper issues within our educational system. This pervasive dip demands a comprehensive intervention strategy, a strategic approach aimed at rectifying fundamental flaws across all levels of learning.

This final installment of the traditional KCPE marks a significant shift, yet under the new school curriculum, an unwavering emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses persists. We cannot overstate the importance of STEM education in fostering innovation and driving industrialization, this fact makes any decline in performance within these crucial subjects even more troubling.

Recently, Kenya has aligned its focus with global recognition: it emphasizes the pivotal role STEM courses play in cultivating a workforce capable of critical thinking, an essential element for accelerating the industrial revolution. Chief among those who underscore this emphasis are manufacturers; they highlight not only their industries’ reliance on such an intellectually agile labor pool but also stress that mastering STEM education equips workers adequately for modern industrial challenges.

The increased emphasis on liberal arts has seen a surge in graduates amidst employment challenges; however, the shift towards STEM courses signifies this departure. Policymakers must immediately attend to the declining performance in science and mathematics due to its long-term implications for our nation’s workforce capacity for innovation and technological advancement.

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