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Make marking of national exams efficient

Wednesday December 11 2019

KCSE 2019

Candidates write KCSE exams at Segero Seventh Day Adventist Secondary School in Ziwa, Uasin Gishu County, on November 5, 2019. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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The Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations came to a close on November 28 and marking commenced  immediately, since, according to Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha, the results should be out before Christmas.

In the education process, immediate feedback is instrumental to learning since students get corrected where they have erred and validated if they are on track.


Sadly, this has often not been the case as far as our education system is concerned. Immediate feedback in terms of formative assessments has been lacking, and the reasons range from inadequate teaching resources to erratic supervision.

Whereas the Ministry of Education has been praised for its quickness in releasing national exams results for the last three years, caution has to be taken so that the bigger picture is not lost.

Instructively, previous establishments had this bad habit of delaying the results. Such was attributable to sheer laziness and mischief. The long duration between end of marking and the declaration of the results gave room for some rogue Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) staff to be compromised and hence manipulate students’ scores.


That said, another challenge is gaining traction. After the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams results were announced, some examiners expressed concern about the unhealthy circumstances under which they worked. An exercise that was meant to take 10 days, for instance, was allegedly reduced to half the time at the expense of markers who were compelled to work for long hours.


The resultant burnout would definitely affects the effectiveness of the crucial task, eventually raising questions on the credibility of the process.

Teachers are asked to work professionally. It amounts to immorality and double standards when the same teachers are treated inhumanly — being made to work under duress and intimidation.

Granted, examination aims at measuring the learning outcomes. It is not the goal of education. That explains why the incoming competency-based curriculum is not emphatic on summative tests.

Sadly, this measurement exercise is being taken as a matter of life and death. Examination papers are flown by choppers. Storage facilities are heavily guarded and even those candidates admitted in hospitals, get the rare attention.

During this time, a multi-sector approach is adopted — with public officers on high per diem roaming all over the country in the name of observing the exercise.

If such diligence were to be observed during the teaching and learning process, the country would make great progress. For now, the only assurance that our learners have — whether rich or poor — is an examination.


As the marking of KCSE exam continues, albeit with several interruptions over working conditions, let reason prevail. Knec should not behave as if their main goal is to release the examination results.

Whereas the country lauds the short duration taken to carry out the exercise, such should not be at the expense of the health of examiners nor the resultant quality of the work done. There is a sense in which we can do things efficiently.

Mr Osabwa is a lecturer at Alupe University College, Busia. [email protected]