Kenya: D-day: Verdict out on Kenya's most guarded exams

The curtains will today fall on Kenya’s most guarded national exams after a month-long process that saw teachers and students arrested and some charged over cheating.

Candidates will sit the Physics Practical paper this morning, ending a well-coordinated process, with only a few cheating attempts reported.

And the verdict is out: The country is on its way to restoring the credibility of the national examinations after years of questionable administration.

This year, a total 1.5 million candidates sat Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations. Of these, 952,445 sat KCPE exams and 577,079 KCSE.

The Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) Chairperson George Magoha warned candidates that the era of abnormal As was over, saying candidates will only get the marks they deserve.

The statement by Prof Magoha in Kisii County pointed at the planning and execution of a strategy that beat the examination theft cartels.

During the national exercise that kicked off early this month, at least 40 teachers were arrested across the country and charged with breaching examination rules set by Knec.

The Standard has established that the changes began after Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i reorganised the Knec Council.

Sources yesterday said that fresh examination questions were set, throwing into a spin cartels previously used to stealing examinations.

The sources said the questions were randomly selected and sent abroad for printing, to cut off local circulation.

Security was enhanced through shrink-wrapping, which ensured there was no unauthorized access to the papers.

Deployment of strong metallic containers to store the exam papers and the appointment of school heads as centre managers also helped avert cases of cheating.

However, what made all the difference was the number of security personnel deployed. The Standard established that this year saw the largest deployment of security and intelligence officers, in a well-planned programme to safeguard credibility of the examinations.

This was reflected in a joint statement by Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, Information’s Joe Mucheru and Matiang’i.

A number of Government agencies and ministries were involved in the administration of the examinations.

All national government officials in the counties were directed to grant necessary support to the Education officers to facilitate successful delivery of exams, Nkaissery said. And to ease coordination, a command and control centre was established.

Further, a call centre was set up to receive and filter communication from the field. The public was also encouraged to send in feedback concerning the conduct of the examinations through telephone number 0800724900, according to the joint communication.

Despite this year’s reported hitches of question mix-ups, inadequate writing paper and delivery of papers to wrong centres, the process was comparatively smooth. Matiang’i is expected to make amajor announcement this morning to wrap up his first national examination exercise that the Government dubbed a “security issue”.