How crafty teacher leaked exam papers and escaped justice

Wednesday March 30 2016

St Peter’s Girls High School Eisero in Nandi County. The school is among those whose KCSE exam results for last year were cancelled due to rampant cheating. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

St Peter’s Girls High School Eisero in Nandi County. The school is among those whose KCSE exam results for last year were cancelled due to rampant cheating. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By BERNARD MWINZI
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Kenya’s most wanted teacher is a man full of mystery, cunning and, paradoxically, good intent.

Mystery and cunning because he is believed to be the architect of a national exam leakage that went viral last year, and good intent because, in his books, he hatched the plot to help his students and buy himself a new car.

The deputy principal is described in a police and Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) report as the mastermind of the theft of Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) papers at Wargdud Police Station in El Wak, Mandera.

The story of his scheming, however, starts in mid-July last year, when, fearing that his 115 candidates were not ready to sit the national exam, he approached police officers to help him steal test papers for Sh240,000.

The police officers agreed, and for the entire period of the exam they supplied him with photos of all exam papers, taken using his iPad and the images stored in a memory card.

The teacher might have done his homework well, but he missed a very important detail: third parties always spoil the party.

Other than giving his students photos of the exams, he also sent the images via mobile phone to a contact in Nairobi, where detectives  noticed that the leaked exam was quickly spreading.

They followed the trail to the teacher’s mobile phone and promptly begun looking for him.

They discovered that the teacher originated from Kahuro in Murang’a but at the time of the investigation had moved to Ting’ang’a in Kiambu.

However, no one in Ting’ang’a, including his presumed sub-chief, knew him.

MONEY TRANSACTIONS

As the police searched for him, fraud detectives were examining his banks accounts.

They discovered that, between the start of the KCSE exam on October 15 last year and its end on November 15, the teacher had received Sh873,000 via M-Pesa from various people.

He had also banked Sh640,000 in his Co-operative Bank account over the same period.

Efforts to trace him were frustrated by the fact that he switched off his mobile phone immediately after the exam. But he gave police a window of opportunity around Christmas when he started using his phone regularly.

Detectives traced him to his Kiambu home and arrested him on December 31 last year. In his compound they found a new Nissan Wingroad.

In an interview with the detectives, the teacher once again proved to be a foxy character. He said he had received the papers from a man with connections at the council.

He said his man taught at a school in Kajiado, but he could not remember the institution’s name. The man had told him the leaked exam had been obtained from the council’s strongrooms in Nairobi and stored in memory cards, he told police, adding that he did not load the material into his mobile phone, but instead gave it out to a fellow teacher at Wargadud.

Detectives traced this accomplice to Meru, and made contact with him on January 2 this year.

The teacher refuted the deputy principal’s claims that he was the local custodian of the leaked exam papers. He, however, said he had learnt that the deputy principal had a tendency of leaking exams and had been implicated in the cancellation of the results of 45 students in the school a year earlier.

He said all the deputy principal had asked of him is to prepare answers to hand-written Chemistry questions that he had given him at the start of the exams. He had done as requested and after the exams, the teacher said, the deputy burnt his iPad and mobile phone.

The detectives confronted the deputy with this new information, and the man let loose his guard, admitting that he had lied  to protect other people, whom he did not name.

He said he had hatched the plot “to assist” his poorly prepared students.

He had approached a police officer at the station in El Wak where the exam would be stored and the officer had introduced him to a colleague who had access to the safe room.

The policemen agreed to give the exams to the teacher for Sh60,000 a week. The money was soon collected from the students, who contributed Sh5,000 each.

HOW EXAM WAS STOLEN

Every time the exam papers were delivered to the police station, the police officers would expertly breach the seals of the tests, photograph the papers and reseal the packages.

They then would pass the material, stored in a memory card, to the deputy principal, who would in turn pass it over to teachers.

During the interrogation, the teacher demonstrated how they tampered with the seals without leaving a trace.

Their tools of trade were a metal cutter, a four-inch nail, a spring file, a razor blade, a pair of pliers, an electric current tester, clear cello tape, and two 30-centimetre rulers.

Investigators concluded that “all the 2015 examination materials stored at Wargadud Police Station” had been tampered with.

The teacher received over Sh1.5 million part of which was paid to the police officers.

However, despite “the overwhelming collaborated and circumstantial evidence,” the report notes that it might not be possible to effectively prosecute the teacher because he burnt all the evidence.

For now, therefore, Kenya’s most wanted teacher is a free man, driving his Wingroad and generally living it up.

The police  know he stole the exam and he had admitted he did it, but there is nothing they can do about it.