This year’s Standard Eight candidates should expect to get their results earlier than usual — thanks to 20 new scanning machines which the examiner has bought at a cost of Sh90 million and which will be used to process the test quickly.
The new optical mark reader machines have replaced 20 old scanners bought more than 17 years ago.
“All details of the 1,003,556 candidates have been computerised and captured in these scanners,” said the Kenya National Examinations Council chairman, Prof George Magoha.
The candidates’ personal details have also been captured on the multi-choice answer sheets in the examinations which will end today with social studies and Christian Religious Education. The tests started on Tuesday.
“The new machines are able to pick up large volumes of papers at the same time and they are also programmed to pick students name, index numbers and examination centres,” said Prof Magoha, adding that the machines will retain images of the marked script for saving in the system.
“You cannot play any dirty tricks during marking of examinations any more. The machines will reduce the marking time by 50 per cent and any marks outside the marking area will not be recognised,” he said.
Last year, he said, about 20,000 candidates did not write their examination numbers on the answer sheets but the problem was sorted out manually.
“The old machines used to reject papers but with the new one that will not be the case since they have the candidates’ details and there is no room for manual tampering.”
Only Kiswahili Insha and English composition will be marked manually.
Previously, after the marking, the examiners would adjudicate the marks of the candidates to confirm if the marking was competent. The examiners were allowed to remark and award marks in instances of poor painting of the sheets by the candidates.
The government this year introduced tough measures to deal with rampant cheating, including the use of the candidates’ photographs, printing of the index numbers and acquisition of containers for storage of examination materials.
The candidates sat the examination in 28,566 centres, which were managed under tight security. Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i on Monday announced that three new security levels had been introduced in the management of the examinations to ensure credibility.
The personalised optical mark reader is aimed at addressing cases of candidates having challenges with shading their index numbers correctly and those who mistakenly shade the ellipse for absent when they actually sat the examination.
Speaking at Westlands Primary School on Wednesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta promised candidates that the exams will be held in an orderly and transparent manner.
He said the examination process had been reformed to give all Kenyan children an equal opportunity.
“Love God, love your country, love your parents and be faithful to all of them, including your teachers because they spent a lot of time on you,” said the President.
The government has already allocated Sh25 billion for the free secondary education programme, which is a key plank of Jubilee’s agenda for the next five years.