The government has mobilised 180,000 teachers as well as police helicopters for this year’s national examinations that begin in two weeks.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha on Monday said everything is ready for the tests and sought to assure the public that there will be no leakage.
“There is no examination that will be seen before the morning it’s supposed to be seen,” he said during the launch of the examination period and issuance of security padlocks at the Kenya School of Government in Nairobi.
The ministries of Education, Interior and Information, Communication and Technology will collaborate to deliver the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations.
Prof Magoha admitted that there were “still a few crooks among us” but warned that the government will take action against exam cheats, especially in areas that have already been mapped as hotspots.
To curb cheating, the government began storing examination materials in metallic containers stationed at sub-county headquarters in 2017.
Examination materials will be dispatched twice weekly from the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) offices in Nairobi to the containers as has been the case since 2018. There will be 479 distribution centres (containers) this year.
Twenty additional containers have been installed to cater for the newly-created sub-counties and in some sub-counties where challenges were experienced in distribution last year.
School heads, who serve as the examination centre managers, collect the materials every morning and return them in the evening.
The containers are locked and guarded round the clock by armed police officers. On Monday, sub-county directors of education were given keys to the containers.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i announced that additional resources have been set aside this year, including new aircraft to enable the police to deal with emergencies and adverse weather conditions.
He cancelled leave for senior security personnel during the examination period and warned against delegation of sensitive duties or loss of the keys to the containers. “No key will be lost. We’ll not make any excuses,” he said.
ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru, who was represented by Principal Secretary Jerome Ochieng, said using technology in the examinations will ensure efficiency, accuracy and speed.
Command and call centres introduced in 2016 to deal with issues witnessed during the exam period will operate from the 6th floor of Harambee House and the Knec headquarters at Mitihani House.
A toll free number, 0800724900, will be used to report malpractices in the exams that will be administered and managed by 179,149 teachers in the capacities of centre managers, supervisors, invigilators and markers.
Thousands of security officers and ICT experts will also be involved.
Knec acting CEO Mercy Karogo said security challenges are anticipated in some parts of the country as well as displacement of candidates due to evictions.
She cited the Mau case that had seen some exam centres shut, besides substandard/insecure physical facilities and adverse weather. However, all registered candidates will sit the exams, she said.
She called for close monitoring of examination materials from dispatch to the beginning of the exams.
Teachers Service Commission boss Nancy Macharia noted that cases of exam malpractices involving teachers have been declining since 2016, when 66 cases were reported and dealt with.
In 2017, 48 teachers were disciplined, and in 2018 the number fell to 30. In 2019, the TSC dismissed 17 teachers over examination irregularities in both KCPE and KCSE in 2018.
From Monday, leave for all TSC staff has also been cancelled with the TSC boss ordering all officers to “return to their offices to scale up planning and preparations for the start of the national examinations”.
Participating in successful administration of national exams will now be considered during the appraisal and promotion of teachers, she said.