The year 2016 is one former Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) boss Joseph Kivilu would rather forget in a hurry.
For Kivilu and nine other senior Knec officials sacked alongside him, this was a long year filled with panic, anxiety and uncertainly after Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i disbanded the council’s board.
Mr Kivuli, who had only served for just one year as the Knec secretary, joined the examinations’ agency in 2011 as a senior deputy secretary in charge of Test Development.
This is the department responsible for preparation of all examination papers offered by Knec.
Kivilu was appointed acting CEO after the term of Paul Wasanga ended.
And after undergoing a rigorous interview, beating other contestants, former Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi appointed him to take full charge of the council.
But on March 24 this year, he was forced to leave the comfort of his office to record a statement at the police station over what the Government dubbed ‘security operation to restore credibility of national examinations.’
Last year, some 5,101 Form Four candidates and another 2,701 Standard Eight pupils had their results cancelled over examination irregularities, a development that shook the education sector.
And riding on the public rage over growing examination irregularities that had become the hallmark of Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE), Matiang’i flanked by Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery and Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet, pushed for the exit of the Knec team.
Also asked to record statements were deputy secretaries for Examinations and Security Ambia Noor, Maundu Matenzewa (in charge of examination security) and Principal Examination Secretary Thomas McKenzie to record statements last.
Others were deputy secretary in charge of Reprographics Sarah Majani, senior deputy secretary Bobby Nyagah, senior deputy secretary in charge of ICT Geoffrey Gitogo, Principal Supply Chain manager Michael Ndua and deputy secretary Richard Mwangangi.
The officials were later retired in public interest.
Knec chairperson Kabiru Kinyanjui was also sent home and replaced by former University of Nairobi Vice Chancellor George Magoha.
Making the announcement to disband Knec board, Matiang’i said preliminary investigations revealed complicity, irregularities and illegitimate activities of a number of fronts within and outside of the Knec.
He said after reviewing ‘huge amount of information’ from a number of security sector agencies, it was clear that Knec had ‘very fundamental systemic challenges’ that must be decisively and conclusively addressed in order to ensure national examination process remain credible.
The declaration by the CS in March this year that the council board had been disbanded marked the start of a long and winding year laden with surprises.
But what Kivilu and the other senior management officials would want to forget is the rush with which they were bundled out of office.
“We were asked to record statements. We did. So we asked them to charge us. They never did. So why all the embarrassment?” posed one of the officials.
Speaking to The Standard, some of the former Knec staff said they regretted working for the council.
“We were then asked to report to the police on certain days of the week. But nothing happened. There was no evidence at all linking any of us to examination fraud. I regretted working for Knec. Indeed this was a bad year,” said another senior official.
Knec secretariat staff still in office yesterday said they wish this year ends, but noted that they dread 2017.
“Examinations have been done. Results out. Next year, they may sack us and build a new team. There is a lot of tension at the council,” said a senior Knec official.