Candidates' names missing from the register, exam delays in some counties, and eight births marked the first day of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations Tuesday.
About 70 pupils at Mumias Muslim Primary in Kakamega County and their parents were shocked to learn that they had been registered to sit the examinations as private candidates in different centres.
The parents said their children have attended the school from pre-primary but were forced to sit the exam elsewhere “because it wants to boost its mean score”.
“The school registered 130 bona fide candidates. The remaining 70 were considered below average and registered as private candidates,” claimed Halima Burhan, a parent.
She said the headteacher, Mr Omar Maloba, did not consult them in the arrangement.
“I only realised on Sunday that my daughter was a private candidate when she refused to eat and spent the night crying. When I inquired what the problem was, she told me she had not been given her index number,” said Ms Burhan.
She followed up with the headteacher, who pleaded for forgiveness. “He requested me not to take the matter seriously, promising to help me secure a good secondary school for my girl once the results are out,” said Ms Burhan.
When the Nation visited the school on Monday, Mr Maloba was away. When reached on phone, he said he had taken his daughter to hospital.
Mr Maloba directed journalists to Mumias West sub-county education officer, claiming some parents were using the media to frustrate him. “Their intention is to have me sacked,” he said. Sub-county education officer Francis Shikanda said he had launched investigations into the matter.
In Kisumu, there was tension at St Anne Kajulu Primary after angry parents stormed the school protesting the transfer of their children to other examination centres.
Twenty six candidates were shocked when they found out the administration was planning to take them to the distant Miwani Primary, where they were registered without their knowledge.
The strategy is used to retain bright pupils in a bid to attain a higher mean score, which is used as a marketing bait. Speaking at Manyatta Primary, Education PS Belio Kipsang said police officers had been dispatched to the scene to restore order.
"We are aware of the incident, but we are confident the examinations will go on smoothly. Our officers at the county level have already handled it," he said.
In Migori town, a candidate threatened to commit suicide after his name missed from the register. The 13-year-old from Break Through Academy was allegedly registered at St Joseph Ombo Primary.
The distraught boy told the Nation he realised his name was missing when he joined other 20 classmates for rehearsals on Monday. However, the director of the school, Mr Boaz Oyoo, said the institution is not a registered examination centre and was closed down during the recent crackdown by the ministry.
Eight candidates across the country wrote the papers from hospital wards after giving birth.
Speaking in Mombasa, Education CS George Magoha said several expectant girls in Coast are sitting the exams in maternity wards, with ambulances on standby for emergency cases.
The CS said teenage pregnancy is a thorny issue in the region, which is being dealt with through the provincial administration.
He further warned centre managers against blocking candidates from sitting the exams due to ‘illegal levies’.
Prof Magoha said they are closely monitoring the identified cheating hotspots. “I know there are people who are going to get mad because I am saying this, but I will say it anyway. We have Migori, Kisii and Homa Bay,” he said. In Marsabit, six members of the examinations management team headed to Olturot Centre in Laisamis narrowly escaped death when their vehicle overturned, leaving three injured.
More than 23 schools in West Pokot did not receive examination materials on time after River Kasei burst its banks and rendered some roads impassable.
By Shaban Makokha, Elizabeth Ojina, Ian Byron, Faith Nyamai, Wycliff Kipsang’, Florah Koech, Oscar Kakai, Dennis Lubanga, Tom Matoke, Gerald Bwisa, Vitalis Kimutai, Derick Luvega Shaban Makokha, Dickens Wasonga, Mishi Gongo, Siago Cece, Lucy Mkanyika, Fredrick Fadhili, Stephen Oduor, Winnie Atieno and Kalume Kazungu