A high-level meeting on the eve of last week’s Standard Eight examination was behind the smooth delivery of the tests in election hotspots in parts of the country, the Sunday Nation has established.
Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i convened a meeting of top security and education chiefs last Monday to work out strategies to ensure the examinations were not disrupted.
The meeting followed growing fears that – given the violent scenes witnessed in Kibera, Kawangware, Mathare and parts of Nyanza – the examination administration would be disrupted.
At the meeting chaired by Dr Matiang’i, officials formed community examination committees to inspire proper involvement and ownership of the exercise.
At least 25 people, representing community stakeholders in each of the communities, were appointed to be members to the examination teams.
The committees’ tasks included throwing a ring around the schools to ensure all examination materials reached schools.
Groups represented at the committees included chiefs and their assistants, village elders, parents and opinion leaders within the communities.
For the three days the examination was held, the groups conducted civic education and peace building around the examination centres, a move largely believed to have softened the areas, many of which had heightened tensions as a result of elections.
Kibera had experienced disturbances that led to destruction of a school over the fresh presidential election, which was held on October 26.
It was a similar case in Mathare where tension was high.
In Kawangware, the violence caused the death of six people after rival groups allied to Jubilee and Nasa clashed and the hostility was evident when, on Monday afternoon during rehearsals at Gatina Primary School, Dr Matiang’i’s convoy was attacked by rowdy youths.
The rowdy youths also held hostage several education officials and journalists who were later rescued by the police.
A total of 1,003,556 candidates sat the examination in 28,566 centres.
They started with English Language and Composition on the first day, Science, Kiswahili Lugha and Kiswahili Insha on the second day and concluded with Social Studies and CRE on Thursday.
At the national level, President Uhuru Kenyatta mobilised his entire Cabinet to spread out to various parts of the country to join the relevant ministries to administer the examinations.
President Kenyatta, who had promised that his government would spend a few days to focus on the national examinations, made a surprise visit to Westlands Primary School to personally monitor the opening of the examination papers.
On their part, Cabinet Secretaries Matiang’i (Education), Mr Willy Bett (Agriculture), Mr Charles Keter (Energy), Ms Phyllis Kandie (Labour), Ms Sicily Kariuki (Public Service), Dr Cleopa Mailu (Health), Mr Dan Kazungu (Mining) and Mr Joe Mucheru (ICT) were all dispatched to various counties to monitor the exercise.
At the Ministry of Education, Dr Matiang’i advised all his top and middle-level officers who were on leave to resume duty to help in the monitoring.
The ministry has formed a multisectoral examination monitoring group comprising officials from the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec), Teachers Service Commission, Kenya Institute of Special Education and Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, among others, who are deployed throughout the country during the examinations process.
The team is headed by Knec chairman George Magoha who is also in charge of releasing official communication to the public.
All the top bosses, including TSC chief executive Nancy Macharia, KICD director Julius Jwan and Knec’s Mercy Karogo moved to various counties for the exercise.
All of the officials provided feedback on the examinations from time to time.
Some of the activities of the examination monitoring teams would be reported directly to a command and control centre at the Knec offices from where necessary action would be taken.
Such monitoring was the reason an attempted case of impersonation in Baringo County was immediately detected and action taken.
“We are happy that the suspect was arrested immediately,” Prof Magoha said in response to the attempted impersonation case.
He said: “It is proof that our systems are working very well to detect any anomalies.”
There were also cases of examinations starting late in Tana River, Wajir and Mandera due to heavy rains and, where necessary, the examination materials were airlifted.
Prof Magoha maintained that the KCPE and the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations, to start Monday, will be credible and no paper would be leaked.
He said all the multisectoral agencies had helped to step up the systems of monitoring the examinations.
“It is clear, from the way we have planned this year that we have benefited more from the fact that the Education and Interior dockets were under one command, making it easier to coordinate,” Prof Magoha said.
At least four high-level meetings were held between education and security agencies ahead of the exams, the first ever to be held in an atmosphere of political tension caused by a disputed presidential election.
Dr Matiang’i said the KCSE examination will be administered with the same zeal.
“We are determined to execute the exam processes with great precision with a focus to deliver credible results,” he said.