Shock of 400,000 ‘fake’ KCPE, KCSE candidates

Mercy Karogo CEO Kenya National Examination Council. Knec has deregistered students as it investigates examinations cheating. [Photo: Standard]

The examinations body has cancelled the registration of hundreds of thousands of candidates as it investigates possible collusion in use of fake birth certificates.

The Standard has established that parents and head teachers in schools countrywide might have colluded to use false birth papers to register candidates for this year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations.

The Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) has declared that the affected candidates will not be allowed to sit the examinations later this year unless proper records are supplied and those behind the fraud punished.

Knec data shows that 1.78 million candidates were registered to sit the 2019 examinations, whose registration deadline was February 15. Of these, 1,089,671 were KCPE candidates while 698,935 students registered for KCSE, from all the 10,304 centers.

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Data showed that the majority of malpractices occurred in primary schools. Knec subsequently cancelled the registration of 342,916 KCPE candidates and 28,713 in secondary schools. This means that only 746,755 candidates have validly been registered to sit the KCPE examinations while only 670,222 candidates can sit the KCSE tests.

Knec’s data further exposes counties whose teachers and parents breached registration procedures. Meru has the highest number of cancelled registrations, with 23,806 candidates in primary and 3,646 in secondary schools.

Marsabit has the fewest cases, with only 45 students’ registration questioned, of which 42 are in primary schools.

Validation exercise

Knec Chief Executive Officer Mercy Karogo said the anomalies were detected during a validation exercise by the agency.

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Registration had started on January 2, before Knec asked parents, teachers and candidates to verify their details between February 16 and 22.

The parents and candidates were advised to send the candidates’ index numbers to 20076.

“In case of any anomaly please contact the head teacher or principal immediately before February 22,” Knec advised.

But it emerged that most parents and candidates did not conduct the verification exercise.

“We have listed several cases where schools manipulated the birth registration data to register candidates,” said Dr Karogo.

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She said the system was configured in such a way that registration digits must be entered for one to move to the next registration page.

“Some just entered zeros while others entered some funny digits. We detected all these and cancelled their registrations,” she said.

A birth certificate is one of the documents that must be available during registration.

Typing errors

A report tabled in Parliament last week by outgoing Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed listed duplication of birth certificate numbers and typing errors of birth entry numbers as some of the challenges the ministry had faced on data management.

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During the registration process, schools are expected to enter details of correct birth certificates and legitimate photographs of candidates.

Candidates’ names, school codes and subjects to be written are also entered accurately.

Karogo said the council was shocked by the behaviour of some school heads and parents.

“We are investigating these cases and we have also roped in other Government agencies to help us unravel what happened,” said the CEO.

She insisted that parents, candidates and school heads of the affected centers must validate the registration data. “We shall not process these candidates for the national examinations unless the correct data is entered because we use clean data.”

Karogo said some school heads breached instructions that required them to sign forms.

All heads of institutions were instructed to ensure all candidates’ registration details were captured correctly and every candidate asked to confirm the same by signing a nominal roll.

It is now turning out that some candidates did not verify their data, or there was collusion. It also emerged that some teachers signed for their candidates, contrary to the rules.

Knec is also investigating reports that some examination centres used fake data to register students to avoid being stripped off their centre status. The centres are expected to have a minimum number of candidates for Knec to retain them.

This year, Knec said new schools wishing to be listed by Knec as examination centres must submit valid registration certificates from the county Director of Education, an inspection report from the sub-county office, and a dully-filled application form.

Knec registration instructions require that schools with between six and 15 candidates be hosted in established centres. “The hosted school will retain its code during registration of candidates. Schools with less than five candidates are advised to register their candidates in another approved examination centre,” the guidelines read.

Knec has also been reforming the registration process of candidates with a new directive on index numbers. Karogo instructed school heads to ensure candidates were allocated index numbers based on the admissions list.

Class performance

“All candidates for both KCPE and KCSE examination will be issued with an index number as per the school admission register, and not class performance as was the case in previous years,” read the guidelines.

The new directive, which was rolled out this year, came after it emerged that the old indexing system saw thousands of students suffer prejudice, even in their later lives, and many others deemed failures.

“We have had cases where candidates who have lower index numbers resign to fate and start to think that they cannot perform better in examinations,” said Karogo.

Knec chairman George Magoha has been nominated by President Uhuru Kenyatta as Education Cabinet Secretary.

Kenya Secondary School Heads Association national chairman Kahi Indimuli said some birth certificates were not compatible with the National Education Management Information System.

He said the problem could be traced to Form One admission documents.

“Maybe the principals used different birth certificates from the ones the children were admitted with to Form One. And some birth certificates used in Class Eight also could differ from those that children were admitted with to primary schools,” Mr Indimuli said.

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