Cheating rife as questions shared via SMS

Tuesday October 28 2014

Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi. Students in public day secondary schools should pay a maximum Sh2,000 per year in fees, Mr Kaimenyi has said. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA |

By Benjamin Muindi

A school principal was on Tuesday charged in court over exam irregularities.

The case is one in a series of cheating incidents which could dent the reputation of national exams.

Mr Gildon Shioso Opati of Babs Ridge Academy in Mariakani in Mombasa was charged with being in possession of English Paper Three, Maths Paper Two and a Kiswahili Paper — all part of tests the students were yet to write.

In Mumias, the Daily Nation established that some candidates had access to test questions hours before sitting the Kenya Certificate of Secondary examinations.

Test questions appear to have been re-typed and circulated through SMS and the popular mobile chat application, WhatsApp, with each paper being sold for between Sh1,500 and Sh3,500.

The Nation confirmed that the test questions circulated on mobile were the actual ones later written in the exam rooms.


The Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec), however, said the purported exam papers in circulation were “fake”.

Mr Opati was arrested on Monday and charged alongside three university students with KCSE exam papers to candidates in the county. They denied the charges.

The students are from the Technical University of Mombasa.

Among those charged was Mr Sadiki Juma Sheti from the university who, along with the principal, were released on bond.


In Mumias County, the Nation obtained questions from a senior teacher three hours before English Paper Three was written.

The paper in question was meant to be written at 11.30am although the questions were circulating through WhatsApp and SMS by 8am.

The teacher, who cannot be named because of the nature of the investigation, had intercepted communication between colleagues from Muslim Girls, Mumias and Buchifi Secondary School.

The questions turned out to be the exact ones that candidates tackled in the exam room.

Getting the questions gives candidates an unfair advantage over their colleagues in the exam because it gives them a chance to get answers beforehand.

In another incident, three Form Four candidates from Uriri Boys High School in Migori County were arrested after they were reportedly found cheating during the Biology exam.

The three were picked by the police officers who were called in by examination officials.

They were found with a revision book and marking scheme for the exams.

“The marking scheme bore the exact answers to questions in the Biology paper and we are still conducting investigations to establish how many students were involved,” said Mr Jacob Kaberia, the Uriri police boss.

So far, there have been several arrests made by the exams council’s security officials.

A 21-year-old Kenyatta University student in Manga, Nyamira County, was caught with “exam” papers loaded onto a flash disk and another arrest was made in Oyugis, Homa Bay County.


Knec’s acting secretary, Dr Joseph Kivilu, had named Garissa, Kisii, Oyugis, Nyamira, Rongo and Eastleigh in Nairobi as cheating hotspots when the exams started more than a week ago.

Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi on Tuesday proposed the return of the three-year ban from sitting exams for candidates found cheating.

The rule was relaxed in favour of cancellation of the results.

“Parents should get this well; those children found cheating will be barred from sitting the examination for three years. It is a new development and I think it is a good one, to curb irregularities in the exam,” Prof Kaimenyi told the Education committee in Parliament.

Additional reporting by Elisha Otieno