New features have been introduced to curb cheating as 1.6 million candidates prepare to sit their national primary and secondary school exams.
The 1,003,556 candidates registered for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam will find their names and a coloured passport photograph already printed on the answer sheets.
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Also printed beforehand will be their index numbers, school names and codes, a departure from the past when candidates were required to write these details.
Sources at the Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) said the new features are aimed at enhancing accuracy and preventing impostors who write examinations on behalf of candidates.
It has emerged that scanners used to mark KCPE multiple choices scripts have in the past rejected some because of errors or illegible handwriting. The resultant manual marking has reportedly opened an avenue for some schools to manipulate results by compromising exam markers.
Insiders believe some errors are deliberately introduced to by-pass marking by scanners. "This will no longer be the case because the new scanners are sophisticated and will be effective during marking," said a ministry of Education official.
The customised answer sheets will also check cheats who hire impostors to write exams for them.
The new features will ensure minimal rejection of answer sheets by scanners during marking to guarantee accurate and reliable results.
"For the first time in the KCPE examinations, multiple choice answer sheets will contain personalised details," said Education CS Fred Matiang'i.
Dr Matiang'i said Knec had installed 20 modern scanning machines that will improve speed and accuracy in processing this year's examinations.
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And the 615,773 candidates registered for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams will not be provided with answer separate answer booklets as has been the case.
Sources said adequate space has been provided in the question papers for candidates to write their answers.
"The idea is to minimise avenues of cheating and improve accuracy," said the senior education ministry official who did not wish to be named.
Last year, Knec did not print any excess question papers as part of efforts to address cheating.
Last week, Matiang'i said his ministry and Knec were determined to deliver 'clean examinations devoid of any malpractices'.
"So far there have not been any reports of fake papers circulating in the market. We thank parents, guardians and teachers for believing in our quest to stamp out cheating," said Matiang'i.
He said the rules issued last year, detailing the roles of head teachers as examination centre managers, were still in force.
Knec regulations state deputy head teachers will be required to remain in school to aid in the administration of the examinations.
The examination timetable shows KCPE examinations will be held between October 31 to November 2.
Candidates will tackle Mathematics, English Lnguage and English Composition on first day of the exams.
Science, Kiswahili lL and Kiswahili Insha will follow before closing Science and Religious Studies.
KCSE rehearsals will be held on November 3 before the exams kick off November 6. Mathematics and Chemistry papers will be done on first day of written examinations.
And like last year, only candidates will remain in schools during the examination period. Schools will close by October 29.
Teachers involved in practical subjects will also be expected to remain in school for preparations. Some 5,916 more examiners have been hired.