Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has launched a final assault on national examination cheats.
This week, the Cabinet Secretary launched a 20-person special team that includes officers from the National Intelligence Service (NIS) to steer the national examination in October.
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Its members are drawn from the ministries of Education, Interior and National Coordination of Government and ICT.
Ms Mohamed launched the team quietly at 8am on Tuesday at Jogoo House, away from the glare of the media.
This, sources say, was meant to allow a candid debate on how to forestall any form of cheating like was the case in last year’s collusion that led to the cancellation of results of 1,200 candidates in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination.
The meeting was attended by top officials of the Ministry of Education, including PS Belio Kipsang, Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) Chairman George Magoha and Teachers Service Commission (TSC) CEO Nancy Macharia.
Interviews with some of the officials who attended the meeting confirmed that the CS led the group in endorsing a resolution to work towards a “zero-irregularities” plan, where all results of the 1.1 million primary and secondary school candidates are released.
The meeting resolved to seal all loopholes that could have led to the cancellation of the results of the 1,200 candidates last year.
“We must put in place a formidable system that cannot be breached by anyone,” Ms Mohamed said. “Nothing will be left to chance.”
It was Prof Magoha who narrated how the collusion in nine schools led to last year’s cancellations, saying unscrupulous officials attempted to access question papers for the second paper that used to start at 11.30am.
“As the first morning paper was in progress, a few officials were compromised to slit open the questions from the second paper from where teachers wrote answers for distribution to classrooms,” Prof Magoha said.
Some of the teachers who worked out the answers, said Prof Magoha, provided inaccurate responses, leading to candidates duplicating the incorrect answers and the eventual detection by examiners.
Magoha assured the team that all examinations will remain intact and that none will be leaked. He said the council had purchased 40 more containers, bringing the total number of such examination housing units to more than 400.
It means school head teachers will travel a shorter distance to pick up examination materials.
The meeting adopted a resolution that all national administration officials must put the national examinations top of the agenda over the next three months.
It was also resolved that the provincial administration be placed in charge of the examinations containers and provision of security.
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Ms Mohamed said examination administration measures put in place by the government over the last two years must be sustained.
She revealed that she had already launched a pre-examination monitoring exercise.
Kipsang said all preparations for the examinations were in place and that the exercise was expected to run smoothly.
On her part, Macharia said TSC will conduct a thorough vetting exercise of teachers who will be given the responsibilities of examination administration.
“We will root out unethical teachers,” she said.
Based on last year’s cancellation, 26 principals, supervisers and invigilators were last month interdicted as TSC sought to fast track discipline cases before the examinations start in October.
Six of those interdicted are principals of the secondary schools that accounted for a large part of the 1,022 candidates whose results were cancelled in 2018, according to a TSC report released last month.
Four others were supervisers in the schools while 13 were invigilators.
All the teachers were served with their interdiction letters through the TSC County Directors. At Chebyusi secondary, the Principal, Boniface Okoth, and two Chemistry teachers, Makokha Arnelico and Anthony Wekesa, were interdicted.
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Results of 190 candidates were cancelled at the school following massive collusion during Biology Paper 1 and Chemistry Paper 3. In Makueni, former Principal of Barazani Girls Annah Wanee Wambua (currently principal Kyondoni Secondary School in Kitui) was interdicted over massive collusion during Chemistry Paper 3 leading to cancellation of results for 96 candidates in the centre.
Supervisor Erickson Ndeti Mutua and Chemistry teacher Jane Mutheu Kandi were also interdicted .
In Kisii County, the Principal of Mokubo Secondary Matongo Mobert Albert and Supervisor George Nyaundi were interdicted.
Deputy Principal Solomon Mose and all 10 invigilators have been warned for negligence of duty. There was massive collusion during English Paper 2 and Chemistry Paper 3, leading to cancellation of results for 204 candidates.
At Chalbi Boys High School in Marsabit County, Boya Paul Halake, the principal, has been interdicted for negligence of duty.
And at St Cecilia Girls Secondary School in West Pokot, nine invigilators have been warned for negligence of duty.
“Students managed to talk to each other, receive assistance from each other and had unauthorised material in the form of tissue paper in the examination room which they used to circulate the responses among themselves,” the TSC report says.