This year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations face a serious credibility test following the re-emergence of cheating.
The cheats have been using mobile phones to photograph and disseminate examination questions to candidates.
The exams also face threats from fake news on social media threatening to water down gains made by the Government to guard the tests.
Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang’ de-registered a school on Monday suspected of engaging in examination malpractices.
In his letter to the principal of St Theresa Girls Senior School in Nakuru County, Dr Kipsan’g instructed that the registration certificate should be surrendered to the County Education Board secretary.
“Following examination malpractice, which occurred in your school on or about November 9 and 10, it has been decided that the registration of your school as provided for in the Basic Education Act 2013 be revoked with effect from December 1, 2017,” read the letter dated November 13.
A statement released by Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) Chairman George Magoha on Sunday suggested that some school principals and teachers were part of a cartel attempting to infiltrate the 2017 exams.
Prof Magoha said a school principal in Trans Nzoia County was arrested after a teacher in his school was suspected of sending exam questions to a head teacher in Elgeyo Marakwet County.
According to Magoha, the teacher was suspected of receiving the questions from another teacher in Siaya County.
“The principal and chemistry teacher were arraigned in court on Thursday, November 9, 2017,” said Magoha.
He further announced that a male candidate at a school in northern Kenya was suspected of sending examination questions to another candidate in Nairobi.
He said the candidate from a school in Wajir County was found with a mobile phone, which he was suspected of using to disseminate exam questions.
In Nairobi, Magoha said, a female candidate was also found in possession of a mobile phone. He said the candidate at a school in Shauri Moyo was arrested and would be arraigned in court.
It was not immediately clear whether there was a connection between the Wajir and Shauri Moyo incidents.
Magoha’s statement also pointed to an emergence of attempts to break into the exam security system, a week into the tests.
Reports emerged that a school official in a leading school in Kikuyu, Kiambu County, attempted to send ‘fake’ exam questions to an official at the institution, prompting the Education PS to rush to the school.
The fear of possible attempts to infiltrate the security system yesterday saw a strategic deployment pattern of Government officials in areas considered to have attempted to access exam materials.
Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i was in Nairobi yesterday morning to supervise the start of Mathematics Paper 2.
The CS warned that private schools found to have attempted to engage in exam malpractices would be deregistered.
Teachers Service Commission CEO Nancy Macharia was in Gilgil, where reports indicated that a private school had attempted to access exam materials before time. Jwan Julius, the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development CEO, was in Kericho County.
Magoha raised fears that organised cartels could be trying to reintroduce old habits of aiding cheating in exams.
He accused some exam centres of attempting to access test papers to aid students in cheating, but insisted that security procedures were watertight.
“The cartels are not going to come back. We will deal with them firmly,” said Magoha.
He said the ministry had been able to detect breach attempts, which he said had affected a few schools across the country.
“We have had cases of officials attempting to open exam papers and leak them to students as used to happen in the past,” he said. “We have the capacity to deal with them and we have sealed all loopholes,” he assured.
Magoha said the ministry was handling a few cases of attempted cheating and also noted that a number of exam centres were were not abiding by the rules put in place to ensure that the exams are not compromised, including collecting papers without adequate security.