Sunday, February 27, 2011

Knec’s instant results system on the spot

A student from Parklands Boys High School reads through his English paper 1 during the KCSE examination which started on October 21,2010. Results of the exams are set to be released on Monday. Photo/FILE

A student from Parklands Boys High School reads through his English paper 1 during the KCSE examination which started on October 21,2010. Results of the exams are set to be released on Monday. Photo/FILE 

By BENJAMIN MUINDI [email protected]

The examination council’s relay of instant results will come under fresh scrutiny on Monday when Form Four results are released.

There are fears that Kenyans could be losing millions of shillings in their attempts to access the results following the annual failure of the SMS-based system.

Parents and students have often failed to receive the responses on time.

The system charges clients even before the results are sent out contrary to a promise by the Kenya National Examinations Council that billing only takes place after responses are received.

Others receive the responses long after the results have been released, sometimes even after they have been sent to schools. And in other cases, the clients never receive the results.

Each SMS is charged at Sh20.

Some 357,789 candidates sat last year’s KCSE exams. But in some cases, multiple candidates and relatives end up making inquiries for one candidate through separate phones and messages.

Last year, Knec secretary Paul Wasanga promised that billing would only be done upon receipt of the results.

But the system failed during the release of last year’s Standard Eight results.

On Sunday, Knec asked for more time to provide the number of SMSs that were sent by candidates last year and the rate at which subscribers received the results.

“To receive results in real time, candidates, parents and teachers are asked to pre-subscribe by sending the index number to Safaricom SMS code 5052. They will not be charged until the results are sent,” Mr Wasanga said.

“Subscribers should only send index numbers as instructed,” Knec’s corporate affairs manager Ken Ramani said, noting that sending names and other details clogs the system.

The results may also be accessed through the Knec website, www.examscouncil.or.ke.

“It is clear that load prediction is poor and only one operator was chosen to handle it,” Mr Peter Wanyonyi, an information communication technology consultant said.

“Good load balancing requires multiple levels of redundancy, so that failure by a service does not mean inability to serve.”

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