Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tough penalties applauded for decline in cases of irregularities

By NATION REPORTER

Last year’s national primary school exam recorded a significant reduction in cases of examination irregularities.

A record drop of more than 7,000 cases of cheating in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam was noted for 2012.

Only 718 candidates cheated in the exam, a 91 per cent drop compared to the cases of cheating reported the previous year where 7,967 candidates had their results cancelled.

Education minister Mutula Kilonzo attributed this mainly to the enactment of a new law – the Kenya National Examinations Council Act, 2012. The Act carries stiff penalties for those who cheat in exams.

Mombasa County had the highest number of cheaters (109), followed by Nairobi (88), West Pokot (49), Kajiado (45), Samburu (19) and Kiambu (18).

Some 88 people, including candidates and teachers, were arrested after contravening the new examination Act and have been charged in court with irregularities during the 2012 national examinations.

Exam cheating

“Out of the 811,930 candidates who sat for the 2012 KCPE exam in 22,786 examination centres across the country, only 718 or 0.09 per cent of the candidates in 41 schools were involved in examination irregularities,” Mr Kilonzo said.

Pupils from 19 counties did not engage in any form of cheating.

They include Taita Taveta, Tana River, Lamu, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Murang’a, Machakos, Embu, Marsabit, Isiolo, Makueni, Tharaka Nithi, Turkana, Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Laikipia, Baringo, Busia and Bungoma.

In 2011, only four counties did not engage in exam irregularities. These were: Nyeri, Turkana, Laikipia and Busia and only 14 people were prosecuted.

“The enactment of the KNEC Act, 2012, contributed immensely to this reduction in cheating that we are witnessing today and I wish to single out and thank the teachers, parents and candidates of the 19 counties that did not have any cases of examination irregularities,” Mr Kilonzo said.

He directed county directors of education to ensure that the non-tolerance to cheating in examinations was upheld in the future.

In one incident, noted the minister, a headteacher sent answers to invigilators through SMS with instructions to the invigilators to pass the answers to candidates in the examination rooms. (Letters: Exam cheating thrives on the high premium we place on good grades)

“Such an action by a person placed in a position of authority such as a headteacher is unacceptable and criminal. Not only will disciplinary measures be taken against such persons but legal action too. Such persons do not belong to a civilised society,” Mr Kilonzo noted.

Cheating in examinations has been criminalised by the KNEC Act, 2012, and any persons found to have been in violation of these provisions will face prosecution.

“The message I wish to send to the public is that cheating in national examinations will not be tolerated and where any person is found to have been involved, he will have to face the full force of the law,” he said.

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