The Education ministry has sounded a fresh warning over new tricks devised by cheating cartels across the country to beat stringent measures put in place to curb cheating as the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations start Monday.
On Saturday Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha told the Sunday Nation the authorities were aware of plans by some rogue schools to facilitate a complex cheating scheme.
“We have information that some schools are already setting up ‘stations’ to facilitate cheating. We will catch them this time round in those ‘stations’ and we will not wait until the marking stage to detect the malpractices,” Prof Magoha said.
He said the ministry will be relying on its field officers who must live up to the expectations to ensure that no malpractices are reported in the 10,000 secondary schools.
The Cabinet Secretary called on parents not to accept to give out money to facilitate cheating in the examinations, as that would ruin the future of their children.
Prof Magoha said the government is determined to deal with early exposure of examination materials as well as seal loopholes that allow outsiders to work on answer scripts and return them to candidates in the examination centres.
The other headache will be use of mobile phones by candidates in examination centres to access examination materials.
Prof Magoha directed examination officials to strictly enforce the measures that are meant to ensure the security of the examinations from the container to examination centres.
“All centre managers must travel in designated vehicles and be escorted by security as directed. This will help stamp out cases of early exposure that were reported in some areas last year,” said Prof Magoha.
At the same time, Cabinet secretaries and other senior government officers will once again hit the ground tomorrow as a total of 699,745 candidates start their KCSE in 10,287 centres.
On Saturday, it was a beehive of activity in all Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) offices in Nairobi with tight security ahead of the start of the exercise.
The ministry also extended security surveillance up to two kilometres from each centre to help detect attempts to cheat. This is based on a discovery last year that some examination materials would be sneaked to teachers’ quarters, kiosks and buildings around some centres,
Last year, Knec investigations, for instance, discovered cases in mathematics where candidates had identical errors in calculations or correct responses after incorrect working while in practicals, there were cases where a group of candidates had identical wrong readings in science practicals.
This resulted in cancelling of KCSE results for 3,427 candidates in 44 centres from 16 counties in the country due to cheating as compared to 1,205 in 2017.
To tame the vice, Knec has directed its 400 monitors drawn from various organisations to be present at storage facilities and witness the opening of papers on time and ensure issuance of examination materials to centre managers is done strictly by education officers manning the storage facility.
“The monitors should ensure availability and adequacy of security officers manning the containers and accompanying the centre managers to their respective centres,” reads part the guidelines for monitoring field officers and administration of the examinations.
Among counties that have been flagged as possible cheating zones are Machakos, Meru, Isiolo, Turkana, West Pokot, Kericho, Narok, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Bungoma, Kisumu, Kisii, Homa Bay, Migori, Garissa, Wajir and Mandera.
The examination, which will be done in 16 working days, will end on November 27 before 26,597 examiners embark on marking the scripts with results expected before the end of the year as has been the practice for the past three years.
The results will determine the career paths for the students starting next year.
Prof Magoha will be leading the exercise for the first time as a CS as since 2016, he was the chairman of Knec.
The examinations council’s acting chief executive officer Mercy Karogo has also asked the police to be extra vigilant, noting that some examination malpractices in 2018 arose as a result of examination materials being sneaked into teachers’ quarters and outside examination centres, then being returned after they had been manipulated.
Just as the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams were affected by heavy rains and delays in the start of the exercise, KCSE will not be an exception as heavy rains continue to pound most parts of the country.
Kenyans also expect the government to put into use helicopters to ease movement and avoid cases that were witnessed during KCPE in which supervisors and security officers were seen wading across swollen rivers to deliver examination materials.
Dr Karogo said some 70,790 personnel will be used during the field administration of this year’s KCSE examinations.
The council will use a total of 479 containers for storage of examination materials as opposed to 459 containers used in 2018.
Dr Karogo assured the country that all is set for the examinations and asked candidates to focus and not to be cheated to engage in irregularities.
“We cannot allow our country to go back to where we were before the drastic measures were put in place by the government in 2016 which ensured sanity in our education system,” said Dr Karogo.
In Western Kenya, secondary schools were in top gear ahead of the start of the examinations.
Regional Director of Education (RDE) Stephen Barongo said 93,236 candidates registered to sit the tests in 1,153 centres in the region.
Mr Barongo said the government will use every available resource to ensure the 46,372 boys and 46,864 girls from the region who were presented to Knec during the rehearsals do their exams without any hitch.
The RDE said 33,164 candidates (16,363 boys and 16,801 girls) will sit the exams from Kakamega, 15,317 (6,881 boys and 8,436 girls) from Vihiga, 12,944 (6,745 boys and 6,199 girls) from Busia and 31,811 (16,383 boys and 15,428 girls) from Bungoma counties respectively.
Mr Boaz Adit of Koyonzo Boys Secondary School in Matungu, Kakamega County, said the school has a total of 250 candidates who are ready for the exams.
Mr Patrick Siketi of Munami Secondary said the teachers had done their best and passed the ball to the 72 candidates at the school.
In Vihiga County, Mr John Kuira of Chavakali Boys High School said the school has a total of 471 candidates.