Shocking details of KCSE exam cheating

Abibu Namuninia and Eugene Wawire, students at Chebuyusi Secondary School whose entire KCSE examinations results were canceled by KNEC for allegations of collusion in Biology practicals ponder about their next move at their Nahulu Village home in Navakholo on Jan 25th, 2018. Both come from a poor background and were being sponsored by Navakholo Mp Emmanuel Wangwe. [photo/Chrispen Sechere].

Details of how cheating took place in last year’s KCSE examination have emerged.

According to a confidential report by the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec), teachers and candidates colluded to beat the system, while others used mobile phones to transmit exam related material.

Other candidates were also found to carry unauthorised material into the examination room.

In the investigations, which have thrown examination officials into the spotlight, nearly all candidates from eight centres had their results cancelled when Knec released some findings of the report last month.

So bad was the cheating at one centre that the shocked investigators said: “These paragraphs can only have been written from the same source since the order of the words in each scenario is identical (word for word).”

The results were cancelled following massive and evident irregularities in English, Chemistry, Physics and Biology papers, affecting more than 1,205.

Overall, 10 schools had their KCSE examinations cancelled, even after some had received and celebrated the provisional results.

The details are contained in The Report on the Investigations into Examination Irregularities Following the Withholding of Results in 10 Centres in the 2017 KCSE.

Knec canceled the results of Kibuline secondary school, Chalbi Boys, Barazani Girls, St Cecilia girls and Ortum secondary school.

Others were Koelel secondary school, Tenges, Chebuyusi boys, Mokubo secondary and Towfiq secondary school.

Results of 67 candidates in Kibuline secondary school were, however, released due to lack of substantial evidence.

“Out of the 10, eight of them were cases of collusion in examinations centres which had been detected by examiners during marking,” the report reads.

Six of the 10 schools – Chalbi, Barazani, Tenges, Mokubo and Towfiq – were singled out for abetting serious examination malpractices.

Appearing before National Assembly Education Committee, Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed seemed to point accusing fingers at some of the contracted professionals.

“From the trends of collusion, it was observed that the examination malpractice could not have occurred without willful abetting of the cheating by contracted professionals in charge of administering of the examination,” Ms Amina said.

When releasing the results last year, Knec Chairperson Goerge Magoha criticised “teachers” for sneaking wrong answers to examination rooms, which ended up misleading candidates to cancel their correct answers.

“Some of the innocent candidates were brighter than the teachers who passed onto them the wrong answers that caused them to cancel their correct responses. Such teachers are not worth their positions,” Prof Magoha said.

The revelation is likely to put to question the role some of the contracted professionals played in the administration of the national examinations that was termed as the most guarded.

What is shocking, however, are the finer details of the level of examination cheating that took place in the eight schools whose results were canceled.

The report reveals that most candidates in these schools had their results cancelled for presenting similar and incorrect answers to questions, many of which had been smuggled into examination centres.

In some cases, investigators discovered that candidates who had initially written down correct responses later cancelled them out in place of incorrect answers.

Amina told MPs this week that each case was "exhaustively discussed by the technical team" at various levels and an objective determination of the course of action arrived at through consensus.

“In cases where there was dissenting opinion from the panelists, the candidates were given benefit of doubt,” Amina said.

In total, the council documented 64 examination centres that were reported to have engaged in examination malpractices and the cases were handled professionally as per the laid down Knec rules and regulations.

Investigations on 54 centres were concluded before the release of examination results. The 10 examination centres required more time for investigations.

According to the report, one school accused of collusion in exams was cleared of all allegations.

But in two schools alleged to have engaged in irregularities, the investigations established that all the candidates - except one from each school - had colluded.

The two candidates have, therefore, received their results while those for 300 of their colleagues in the two centres have been cancelled.

“There was evidence of collusion among some of the candidates in three schools, hence the centres were partially penalised,” said Magoha when he released the report.

“The council has, therefore, released results for 453 candidates and cancelled those for 163 others who were found to have colluded in the three schools,” he said.

In four schools, the report shows there was evidence of massive irregularities where all the candidates were found to have colluded. Results of the 742 candidates in the four schools have been cancelled.

Candidates whose results were cancelled were offered an opportunity to register for the 2018 KCSE examination before the registration deadline ends on February 28.

In one of the schools in the Eastern region, results of 70 candidates were cancelled over the English paper. All the results were therefore cancelled. Seven candidates duplicated a wrong answer to a question.

They reproduced the similar response “having a lot of money and have a good standard of living" in respect of a question.

The correct response is: “Affluence – abundance/ opulence/ wealth/ prosperity/ riches/ richness.“

A majority of the candidates at the centre also reproduced another wrong answer in the subject: “Spending a lot of time sitting and not moving”.

In fact, one of the candidates cancelled a correct answer that he had written and replaced it with the wrong answer that candidates had reproduced.

In another school, more than 60 candidates reproduced the same incorrect answer to a question: “He sings with Shauwa holding the rope tight around him.”

The correct response was: “Azdak orders Shauwa to take him to court of justice in Nuka to face public trial for assisting the Grand Duke. On arrival they are informed that the city judge has been hanged.”

The investigators concluded that “this is clearly evidence of collusion which constitutes an examination irregularity as provided under Section 32 of the Knec Act, 2012”.

At the same school, results of Physics Paper 1 for 14 candidates were cancelled after all of them presented similar wrong graphs.

Candidates at the centre, investigators detected, copied one similar long paragraph in a wrong response to one of the questions:

“When force is applied on the brake pedal of a car, it pushes the piston in the master cylinder. This produces a pressure which is equally transmitted to the piston in the slave cylinder. This forces the brake pads to contact the large disc and slows or stops the car. On releasing the foot pedal, the unbalanced pressure in the slave cylinder forces the liquid back into the master cylinder.”

Of the sentence, the investigators said: “These paragraphs can only have been written from the same source since the order of the words in each scenario is identical (word for word).”