Kenya: Ministry seals cheating loopholes as a million set to sit national exam

The entire government machinery has been mobilised to monitor the Form Four and Standard Eight examinations, which kick off on Tuesday.

Some 1.06 million candidates will tomorrow take part in rehearsals ahead of the start of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations.

Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed — in consultation with a multi-sectoral team of government ministries — has mobilised top government officials, including all her Cabinet colleagues, to participate in the monitoring exercise as she seeks to eliminate any irregularities.

Ms Mohamed seeks to seal all loopholes in the examinations, including stamping out collusion which led to the cancellation of results of 1,200 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination candidates last year.

Investigations by the Sunday Nation show that this year’s KCPE and KCSE examinations have attracted an unprecedented excitement within government, with virtually the entire executive willing to play a part in what is expected to be the country’s most guarded exercise.

The Sunday Nation has learnt that all Cabinet Secretaries, majority of principal secretaries and chief administrative officers have accepted invitations from the Education ministry to participate in the national examinations monitoring exercise.

More than 1,000 special monitors drawn from various ministries and departments of government have been lined up for the exercise.

Already, the ministries of Education and Interior and National Coordination as well as the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) have cancelled leave for all their staff to allow them to participate in the monitoring of examinations, which end on November 29.

Data from Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) indicates that other than the 70,000 security officials and more than 150,000 teachers have been deployed for the exercise.

Although the examination monitoring will cover the whole country, Sunday Nation established that some 222 schools have been put under heavy scrutiny following their involvement in previous examination malpractices.

What started off as a promising examination pre-monitoring exercise steered by Ms Mohamed has now received the full support of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who last week warned potential examination cheats that their efforts will not succeed.

President Kenyatta promised that the government will deliver credible examinations and warned those bent on corrupting the country’s education systems of dire consequences.

He said the government will maintain the trend it has established of ensuring national examinations are free of cheating.

“My administration has taken bold measures to make examinations credible and I commend those who work hard and long hours to achieve this,” said the President. “I condemn those who insist on corrupting our exam system,” he continued.

Some of the tough measures that will for the first time be adopted this year include the order that all centre managers cannot transport examination materials to the centres unless accompanied by armed officers.

They have also been asked to ensure that examinations will only be placed in one of the examination rooms where all candidates, armed police and examination invigilators will be in full view.

The aim is to prevent a trend that developed last year where some schools prematurely opened the second paper of the day, usually starting at 11.30am thus exposing it to candidates just before the actual examination begun.

Centre managers, who are also school heads, are under instructions not to allow any examination official into the examination rooms with mobile phones.

In fact, even the centre managers — though allowed to carry mobile phones — cannot be allowed to walk with them into examination rooms.

On Tuesday, candidates will sit mathematics, English and English composition.

On Wednesday, the candidates will take science, Kiswahili and insha.
The candidates will sit social studies and Christian Religious Education the following day.
Ms Mohamed has ordered that examination containers — currently 459 — be opened daily at 6am.
“No centre should start distributing examination papers before the stipulated starting time,” she said.

The containers, she said, will have a double locking system manned by the sub county directors of education and the deputy county commissioners.

“All question papers will be escorted by armed security officers every day of the examination from collection to return of the answer scripts to the container and back to the exam council,” the CS added.

The ministry, she said, had re-evaluated the country’s potential examination irregularities hotspots.
“Although these regions will receive high dependency surveillance during the examinations period, the Ministry of Education — working with the Ministries of Interior and ICT — have stepped up surveillance across the entire country,” she said.

Centre managers guilty of unsealing the afternoon paper before the stipulated time, she said, will be held liable for this irregularity.

She warned that centres found culpable of cheating, condoning, or aiding in cheating will be disqualified.

The CS warned that candidates found in possession of mobile phones in examination centres will immediately be suspended from school, and expelled from the examination process.

She has also directed that all teachers who will be involved in any exercise of administering the examinations must be registered with the Teachers Service Commission.

In total, close to 244,000 field officers will be involved in the administration of the examination.
In Mwatate, deputy county commissioner Kennedy Muriungi issued a stern warning to officers manning national examinations against taking alcohol during the entire period.

He was speaking during a briefing exercise to KCPE and KCSE centre managers, supervisors, invigilators and local chiefs at the county commissioner’s boardroom in Mwatate, Taita Taveta County.

He said firm action will be taken against officers involved in administration of the examination while drunk and disorderly at the exam centres.

By Daily Nation

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