Kuppet threatens to sue Knec over toxic exam chemicals

Monday November 11 2019

From left: Kuppet Assistant Secretary-General Moses Nthurima, Secretary-General Akello Misori and Chairman Omboko Milemba during a press briefing on November 11, 2019. They threatened to sue Knec and the Education ministry over the use of dangerous chemicals during KCSE exams. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The Kenya Union of Post-Primary Teachers (Kuppet) has threatened to sue the Ministry of Education and the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) for allowing a dangerous chemical to be used in a Chemistry practical during this year’s Kenya Certificate Secondary Education exam.

Kuppet Secretary-General Akelo Misori on Monday said the chemicals used are highly flammable and have adverse effects on students and teachers.

The chemicals used included, xylene, calcium hypochlorite and bromine water.


“The chemicals produce dangerous fumes that when inhaled can cause serious effects that lead to breathing problems and death in the long run. They even cause cancer,” Mr Misori said.

Kuppet said two teachers are being treated after inhaling the fumes from the chemicals while preparing specimens for use by their students during the exam.


Mr Misori said the teachers include one from Tidae Girls High School in Kwanza who was expectant and was supervising the exams.

She is admitted to a hospital in Kitale, Trans Nzoia.

Another one is from St Monica Girls High School who is admitted to Hospital Galilee Medical Centre.


“These are just but a few examples. Many teachers and students have complained of side effects [after] exposure to the chemical,” said Mr Misori.

Kuppet said they are assessing the extent of injuries to teachers with a view of taking a legal action.

The union has pointed an accusing finger at Knec and the Ministry of Education for allowing the chemical to be used instead of using a less flammable one.

“The syllabus gives the examinations council different areas of practical testing. Was that the only topic that they could test candidates on,” posed the Kuppet boss.


On Monday morning, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha disputed reports that the chemical affected candidates.

“No student has been affected by the chemical,” said Prof Magoha.

But according to Kuppet, xylene is a hazardous chemical and safety measures ought to be taken when using it.

“Why didn’t Knec prepare teachers in advance? Fume chambers, gloves, protective glasses ought to have been used to protect learners and teachers,” said Mr Misori.