I sometimes wonder what happened to us as a collective. How is it possible for a whole country to hyperventilate over actual myths, memes and graphics created by clever people with time to kill?

How is it possible for grown men and women to demonize children simply because of where they come from? Because they happen to share ethnicity with the current CS of education? How is it possible for us to crucify the children of an entire region based on nothing?

Let us examine the facts. In 2021, 821,582 students sat for KCSE. In 2022, 876,648 students sat for the exam.

The number of candidates increased by 54,000 which is equal to 6 per cent. In 2021, 145,145 children got C+ and above while 173,345 got C+ and above in 2022.

If we look at absolute numbers, this number rose by 28,000 or in other words by 2.13 per cent. How does that translate to “mass passing” or “exemplary performance?”

In 2021, there were 1,138 As, representing 0.14 per cent of the total candidature. In 2022, 1,146 children got As (0.13 per cent). The number increased by 8!

The percentage increase was less than 0.1 per cent! Pray tell, how does this translate to mass cheating?

Even if we look at the A- grade, the story is the same. In 2021, there were 5,973 A- which represented 0.72 per cent of the candidature while in 2022, there were 6,407 A- which represents 0.73 per cent of the total candidature.

The number rose by 0.01 per cent. How does that represent a jump that leads to a conclusion of mass cheating or abnormal exemplary performance?

Nduta Kangethe. PHOTO/COURTESY

Let us break this down into regions. Since KNEC does not release results per region to the public, I had to lean on my friend and colleague, one Indimuli Kahi (Chair of Kenya Secondary School Heads Association - KESSHA) to get these figures from his colleagues.

Of the 1,146 As from these exams, Nyamira as a county had 30As while Kisii County had a measly 51 As. Yaani, two whole counties had 81As but somehow, the conclusion is that they cheated.

Compare this with their neighbours in Siaya who had 72 As, Kisumu which had 59 As, Migori which had 61 As and the almighty Kiambu which had over 200 As!

This Kisii cheating theory is even more ridiculous when you consider that Mang’u High School had 79 As ..Kapsabet High School had 52 As.

Based on this, can we say that the two schools cheated? Or that Kiambu and Siaya County cheated?

Let us examine Nyambaria High School. Those claiming that this school came from nowhere are mistaken. The school has done well consistently since its management changed.

To claim that they cheated simply because they did not have any student who scored less than C+ is simplistic at best and ignorant at worst. Nyambaria is a National School with a candidate population of less than 500.

What our National Schools do is collect bright students (over 400 and above) and maverick teachers and then spend four years training the students to pass KCSE. The real question should be why they did not have more As.

Across the world, including here in Kenya, As are a lot! There are schools that specialize in producing those including some international schools here in Kenya. It is not abnormal.

Education CS Ezekiel Machogu. PHOTO/TWITTER

If the reason we are indicting an entire region and claiming Nyambaria cheated is the belief that a little-known school has never led before, let me remind you that in 2016 when Dr Fred Matiang’i was in charge of education, a little-known school called Sing’ore Girls topped the country.

If memory serves me right, it was at the height of examination reforms and there was no reported cheating. I don’t remember claims of mass cheating in Keiyo. In fact, we baptized Matiang’i with the title Super CS.

Honestly, what we should concern ourselves with as a country is how low our pass rate actually is. It is an indictment of our education system when less than 20 per cent attain C+ and above against a global benchmark of over 30 per cent.

We are so accustomed to this mediocrity that we think it is normal. There are regions in this country that did not have a single A (Mandera is one of them).

There are schools that posted only Ds. We had 30,822 students who got Es. The conversation we should be having is how to correct this, not ethnic profiling aimed at children who have excelled.

We are labelling children as cheats without any facts. Just feelings.

It’s the same thing we did when we told kids their degrees are useless. What are we hoping to achieve here?

One Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said that while we are all entitled to our opinions, we are not entitled to our own facts. Let us do better. As you were.

NOTE: I am not saying there were no irregularities. All exams everywhere in the world have them. These must be investigated and loopholes closed. However, they are not just in one region... and I am yet to see this evidence of "mass cheating".

We cannot demonize a whole community based on our feelings.

As posted on Facebook by Nduta Kangethe, the Head of Secretariat at The Kenya Association of International Schools (KAIS) and a commentator on education matters.