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History and Government equips students with adequate knowledge that enhances their understanding of social, economic and political developments of the world. Students are expected to relate this information to the Kenyan situation. The year 2017 KCSE History and Government examination was presented in two papers: Paper 1 (311/1) which covers the "History and Government of Kenya" while paper 2 (311/2) examines “Themes in World History and Governments."

This report analyzes the performance of candidates in the year 2017 History and Government examination papers, paying special attention to the poorly performed items. It looks at what the questions tested, the candidates' weaknesses and possible reasons for their poor performance. It also gives advice to History and Government teachers with the aim of improving future performance in the subject.


The table below shows performance of candidates in History and Government (311) over a period of four years: 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017.

Table 8: Candidates' Performance in History and Government for the last four Years

Year Paper Candidature Maximum Score Mean Score Standard Deviation
2014 1

2015 1

2016 1

2017 1


From the table above, we deduce the following:

  1. The candidature increased from 394086 in 2016 to 421311 in 2017. This is an increase of 27225 candidates. This is a clear indication that the candidature for History and Government as a subject has been increasing over the last couple of years.
  2. There was a big drop in the performance of paper 1 (311/1) from a mean of 45.28 in 2016 to 33.74 in 2017 (-11.54).
  3. There was a marked improvement in the performance of paper 2 (311/2) from a mean of 40.39 in 2016 to 47.95 in 2017 (+7.56). This big jump may be largely due to the teachers' and students' continued application of the advice given in the past series of backwash reports. County and district-based history symposia may also have positively affected performance in this paper,
  4. Despite the positive improvement of 311/2, the overall performance of History and Government went down due to the huge drop in the performance of 311/1 as a subject.
  5. The 2017 performance is the lowest over the four year period under review.

3.1.2 History & Government Paper 1 (311/1)

As mentioned earlier in this report, the performance of candidates in this paper dropped from a mean of 45.28 and a standard deviation of 20.46 in 2016 to 33,74 and a standard deviation of 17.18 in 2017. This translates into a drop of 11.54)

Unlike in previous years, there were NO questions which were either popular or unpopular with the candidates. The candidates across the board selected questions indiscriminatively.

Below are some examples of questions and the mistakes that were noted in the candidates' responses. Under every question, we have provided specific guidance to teachers and/or students.

Question no.5

Requirements: Conditions to fulfil to get Kenyan citizenship by registration.


Some wrong responses given were:

  • Must be 18 years and above.
  • By birth/ registration.

Advice to Teachers

Help the students to differentiate between the requirements to register as a voter and those of becoming a Kenyan citizen.

Question no 6.

Requirements: How poverty undermines unity in Kenya.


Some wrong responses given were:

  • Free primary Education.
  • Leads to prostitution.

Advice to Teachers:

Train students on how to tackle application questions and avoid guesswork.

Question no 8.

Requirements: Main disadvantage of democracy.


Example of wrong response given were:

  • It is durable.

Advice to Teachers:

Effective coverage of syllabus.

Question no 12.

Requirements: Why the government encouraged settlers to come to Kenya during the colonial period.

Weaknesses: Example of wrong response given were:

  • It increased the population of the people.

Advice to Teachers:

Adequate coverage of syllabus to avoid irrelevant responses in the exam.

Question no 14.

Requirements: Main voting system used in Kenya.

Weaknesses: Example of wrong response given were:

  • Mulolongo system.

Advice to Teachers:

  • Assist the learners to know the difference between earlier types of voting and present ones so as to avoid confusion.
  • Train the learners on using correct spellings for terms in History and Government like Mlolongo and not Mulolongo.

Question no 15

Requirements: Functions of the speaker of the County Assembly in Kenya.

Weaknesses: Some wrong response given were: 

  • The head of a meeting of governor.

Advice to Teachers:

Teaching should also emphasize on government based on the new Constitution.

Question no 16.

Requirements: Types of ownership as spelt out in the African Socialism adopted in Kenya.

Weaknesses: Some wrong responses given were:

  • Everything belong to the people of Kenya.
  • Land fragmentation.

Advice to Teachers:

Encourage students to read and understand questions before answering them.

Question no 17.

Requirements: Five Eastern Bantu communities.

Weaknesses: Some wrong responses given were:

  • Abaluyia.
  • Abaluyia.
  • Abasuba.

Advice to Teachers:

  • Effective teaching.
  • Assist learners to appreciate the different types of Bantus and their correct examples.

Question no 20.

Requirements: Five early political organizations formed in Kenya up to 1939.

Weaknesses: Some wrong responses given were:

  • Abolishment of kipande.
  • Social political of the Kalenjin
  • Tribalism.
  • Education.

Advice to Teachers:

  • Help learners differentiate between demands and names of the early political organizations.
  • Effective syllabus coverage.

Question no 22a

Requirements: The composition of the County Assembly in Kenya.

Weaknesses: Some wrong responses given were:

  • To build the nation
  • Bunyore
  • Assistant speaker.

Advice to Teachers:

  • Adequate syllabus coverage.
  • Avoid guesswork.

Question no 23a

Requirements: Qualifications of a person to contest for presidency in Kenya.

Weaknesses: Some wrong responses given were: 

  • Must be a citizen.
  • Must be of unsound mind.

Advice to Teachers:

Effective coverage of the syllabus.

Question no 23b

Requirements: Functions of the cabinet in Kenya.

Weaknesses: Some wrong responses given were:

  • Passes bills
  • Amends bills.

Advice to Teachers:

Help the learners appreciate the different functions of the various arms of the government like the Parliament and the Executive.

Question no 24a

Requirements: Three groups which provide health services in Kenya.

Weaknesses: Some wrong responses given were:

  • Judiciary
  • Speaker
  • Legislature.

Advice to teachers

Teachers are advised to ensure efficient and effective coverage of the syllabus

Question no 24 b

Requirements: Factors which have undermined the provision of health services in Kenya.

Weaknesses: Some wrong responses given were:

-Political affiliation because of current affairs.

Advice to teachers.

Teachers are advised to ensure effective coverage of the syllabus

3.1.3 History & Government Paper 2 (311/2)

There was an improvement in the performance of paper 2 (311/2) from a mean of 40.39 in 2016 to 47.95 (+7.56) with S.Ds of 20.48 and 17.34 respectively. In 2017 performance in this paper was far better than that of 311/1 which is a bit unusual.

Analysis on some questions show some weaknesses and the necessary advice to teachers and students.

Question no. 7

Requirements: State two factors for the growth of Meroe.

Weaknesses in Candidates responses:

Some of the candidates gave response on the importance of Meroe and not the factors for the town's growth.

Advice to teachers

Assist learners to appreciate the different terms used in the test.

Question no.9

Requirements: To give one characteristic of human rights.

Weaknesses in Candidates responses:
Some gave examples of human rights

Advice to teachers.

Adequate teaching of the topic.

Question no. 11

Requirements: Outline the roles of Emirs in Northern Nigeria during the pre-colonial period.

Weaknesses in Candidates responses,

Some of them gave the roles of chiefs in colonial Kenya, the Tuaregs of Trans Saharan trade and the Jumbes of Tanzania.

Advice to teachers.

  • Help learners to differentiate between content for paper 1 and that of paper
  • Effective syllabus coverage.

Question no. 13

Requirements: To give 2 nations that belong to the Triple Entente during the First World War.

Weaknesses in Candidates responses.

Some could not differentiate between Triple Entente and Triple Alliance and so the responses were mixed up.

Advice to teachers.

Effective teaching and guidance to learners.

Question no. 21

Requirements: State five roles played by Kwame Nkrumah in the struggle for independence in Ghana.

Weaknesses in Candidates responses.

They generalized Nkrumah's role as a Pan Africanist and not a nationalist.

Advice to teachers.

Careful teaching clarifying different roles of Nkrumah at his different capacities.

Question no. 22b

Requirements: Effects of Second World War.

Weaknesses in Candidates responses.

Some responses reflected on effects of colonialism.

Advice to teachers

Thorough teaching of world wars.

Question no. 24b

Requirements: Responsibilities of the State government in the U.S.A.

Weaknesses in Candidates responses.

Some gave responses on the responsibilities of federal government in the U.S.A.

Advice to teachers

Proper teaching on the different functions of the state and federal governments in the U.S.A.

The popular questions were numbers 19, 20 and 22.

    1. Give five traditional forms of communication. (5 marks)
    2. Discuss five advantages of using the internet as a source of information on History and Government. (10 marks)
    1. Outline five methods which were used by the Europeans to acquire colonies in Africa, (5 marks)
    2. Explain five reasons why the Africans were defeated during the Maji Maji rebellion. (10 marks)
    1.  Identify three political causes of the First World War. (3 marks)
    2. Explain six effects of the Second World War. (12 marks)


  1. Teachers should introduce their learners to proper use of action verbs used in testing for example state, describe, explain, etc.
  2. Teachers should effectively cover the syllabus within the time allocated.
  3. Teachers should expose their learners to application kind of questions in various topics.
  4. Teachers should desist from using unapproved revision materials/pamphlets and instead set their own standard tests for revision. Some of these revision materials have been known to mislead teachers and the learners. Moreover, teachers should use the recommended instructional materials rather than using revision materials.
  5. The teachers should teach their students to understand the rubric and adhere to it.
  6. The students should be exposed to themes in world history and appreciate/ embrace the history contents outside Kenya.
  7. Where applicable, teachers should organize and take students to important historical sites.
  8. Teachers should organize and participate in History seminars and symposia at Sub-county, county and national levels.
  9. Teachers should use charts and maps to teach certain concepts like trade and migration patterns of communities.
  10. Teachers and students alike should access the KNEC's annual backwash reports on KCSE SO as to see common mistakes pointed out and the professional advice given therein with a view to avoiding such mistakes in future and improve the quality of teaching of History and. Government. This will also better prepare candidates for the examinations.
  11. The Government through the Teachers Service Commission to employ more History and Government teachers; Ministry of Education through Quality Assurance and Standards Council to enhance supervision of the instruction of the subject and teacher training institutions and universities to increase capacity to train more teachers of History and Government to supply sufficient workforce in our secondary schools.
  12. Learners to try and study for themselves without just relying on their teachers totally. Shallowness of their learning is exemplified by their insufficient answering of questions.
  13. Principals and other teachers to change their attitude towards History and Government since it is no longer a booster subject but among the major subjects taught and examined at KCSE level.
  14. Principals to avail varied reference materials for teaching and learning of History and Government.
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