The Ministry of Education is puzzled after 12,424 candidates missed the 2020 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations.

The revelation has since sent shock waves throughout the ministry, with the number of exam absentees doubling from those in 2019 where 5530 candidates missed their exams.

Officials at the ministry have attributed a majority of the cases to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic which saw schools closed for a better part of the year 2020.

In other instances, the massive job losses and economic decline saw some parents unable to provide for their families.


The Cabinet Secretary George Magoha-led ministry is yet to account for the absenteeism that was witnessed on the October 2020 schools' partial reopening and the full opening on January 4, 2021.

The CS while announcing the results, however, downplayed the absenteeism, saying it was insignificant compared to the 1.18 million candidates who sat for the exams.

Early marriages, teenage pregnancies, deaths, sickness, and displacements by natural disasters and raids are some of the factors the ministry highlighted as a cause for the candidates missing the exams.

Basic Education Principal Secretary Julius Jwan on April 17, 2021, stated that a majority of the candidates were from pastoralist communities and girls who had either been married off or become pregnant.

Thousands of candidates missed the exams despite the government's efforts to ensure all of them sat for the tests. Education officials and police delivered examination papers to hospitals and police cells to ensure candidates did the exams.

The ministry has since indicated that 80 percent of the absentees refused to go back to school while the other 20 percent could not be traced as they had relocated.

All the 1.18 million candidates who sat for the 2020 KCPE exams will be absorbed into secondary schools.