Day One of the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations was marred with reports of cheating schemes despite stringent measures to curb the vice.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha on Monday warned those behind such plans of dire consequences.
“We are getting information that is not encouraging. Parents have collected massive sums of money,” Prof Magoha said when he addressed the media after supervising the opening of a container and distribution of examination materials at Kisumu East deputy county commissioner’s office.
Through intelligence, they had learned that cartels had identified examination officials to target for bribery to allow cheating in Nyanza.
On remuneration, supervisors will be paid Sh120,000, invigilators Sh60,000 and security officers Sh40,000 in Kisumu, Homa Bay, Migori and Kisii counties.
“I’m just taken aback because we had moved away from this kind of nonsense. Nobody should say they were not warned,” Prof Magoha said.
Before the exams, counties in Nyanza had been flagged as possible cheating hotspots alongside Machakos, Meru, Isiolo, Turkana, West Pokot, Kericho, Narok, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Bungoma, Garissa, Wajir and Mandera.
During the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations last week, eight people were arrested in Nyandarua County for engaging in malpractices.
Early Learning and Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang said all examination containers should be opened at 6am.
Speaking in Mombasa while supervising the collection of examination materials from Mvita Sub-County, Dr Kipsang said a team had been dispatched to Tana River County to assess the status of a crucial road. “We have a chopper on standby in case of any problem,” he said.
In Nakuru County, the first day was dampened by a tragedy following the death of a centre manager in a road accident on the way to collect exam materials from Naivasha.
The accident occurred at Longonot on the Maai Mahiu-Naivasha Road when their vehicle rammed into a stationary lorry.
Two other centre managers were seriously injured and were taken to Kijabe Mission Hospital.
The deceased, Mary Wanjiru Macharia, was the principal of Rev Jeremiah Gitau Secondary School.
The injured were Mr David Kimani, the principal of Kiambogo Secondary School and Mr John Kago, the principal of Blessed Mustard Seed School.
Senior Education ministry officials were sent to the two private schools and the deputy principal of the public school took charge of administrating the examination.
Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia sent a message of condolences to the family of the deceased.
“The commission appreciates the commitment to duty of the three teachers and wish to reassure their families, friends, schools and communities that the commission is with them during this period of pain and loss,” said Ms Macharia in a statement.
In Narok County, the examination kicked off without a hitch with Interior CAS Patrick ole Ntutu supervising the opening of the container.
In Nyandarua County, principals were warned against hovering around exam rooms.
The sub-county director of education, Mr James Wahome, attributed last week’s KCPE malpractices to unlimited access to the exam rooms by headteachers and strangers.
Ms Macharia said at least 56 teachers will face disciplinary action for KCPE exam malpractices.
Speaking in Nyeri Town, she also announced that TSC will reward teachers who will perform exemplarily during the examination period.
The rewards will be through promotions, an extra one month salary or recommendation for consideration for the Presidential Award Scheme or national honours.
In the North Rift, the exam started without hitches. “Security has been beefed up in all our centres and we are sure that candidates will sit the exams without any interruption,” said Baringo Central deputy county commissioner, Mr Reuben Ratemo, in Kabarnet Town.
In Uasin Gishu County, journalists were denied access to Moi Girls High School in Eldoret. Principal Christine Chumba directed the officers manning the centre to keep reporters away.
County director of education Gitonga Mbaka urged the journalists to move to other schools as he promised to speak to the principal.
In West Pokot, the county director of education, Mr Jacob Onyiego, said the heavy rains that affected KCPE last week had receded. County commissioner Apollo Okello said security had been beefed up.
In Isiolo, County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri warned police at exam centres against posing for photos with candidates.
“We expect you to uphold high standards of professionalism and stop engagements with the candidates,” said Mr Kanyiri.