Thousands of primary and secondary school learners in Meru County might not be registered for this year’s national examinations for lack of birth certificates.
In Meru, Knec data indicated that 23,806 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and 3,646 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) candidates had provided fake birth certificates.
The Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) gave 370,000 candidates until Friday this week to provide correct birth certificate numbers.
Last week, Knec CEO Mercy Karogo said the 370,000 candidates will be deregistered should they not update their records by Friday.
On Tuesday, parents and learners who were rushing against time to get the birth certificates ahead of Friday deadline, thronged Maua Civil Registration offices.
Officers at the registrar of births office, that serves six sub counties, were forced to seek police reinforcement to contain the surging crowd of anxious parents and students.
An official at the Maua civil registration office said they had served more than 400 people by Tuesday noon.
Some of the students who spoke to the Nation said they had been out of school since last week and were yet to be served.
A candidate at Thimbili Secondary School said 78 learners had been sent home to look for birth certificates. More than 20 candidates at Kangeta Day Secondary School were also affected.
“We were sent home last week and told that we have until Friday this week to qualify to sit for this year’s KCSE. Only nine candidates in our class had the birth certificates, I am afraid that I may not get the document by Friday,” Caroline Mwendwa said.
Another student said they had been assured of getting their birth certificates on Wednesday next week, five days after the exam body deadline.
Mr Joseph Murungi, a parent said the officers were overwhelmed.
“The government should consider putting up satellite offices to address this crisis. Every year, there is congestion at this office when the deadline for KCPE and KCSE registration approaches,” Mr Murungi said.
Mr Gerald Thirua said he feared his child may miss out on KCSE this year.
A civil registration official who sought anonymity blamed Knec for failing to consult the department.
“We have not had many cases of fake birth certificates in Meru. The problem may be in that some schools have been entering the birth certificate serial number instead of the ‘entry’ number. This can create duplication of numbers,” the official said.
Meru County Director of Education Milton Nzioka also blamed the high number of affected candidates on entry of wrong records.
“We are engaging the office of the county commissioner because some of the issues are beyond us. We are hoping that all candidates will have rectified their records by Friday as directed by Knec,” Mr Nzioka said.
But Mr Martin Mange, a parent, blamed the problem on abrupt changes by Knec on the registration procedure.
“In the previous years, Knec would register candidates without their birth certificate numbers but this week the ministry deregistered all such cases,” Mr Mange said.