Relief for one million KCPE exam candidates

Pupils of Hill School in Eldoret prepare to write an exam last year. [Kevin Tunoi, Standard]

Standard Eight candidates can from today review their secondary school choices even as authorities announced tougher measures to check cheating in this year’s national examinations.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said the ministry had realised that some candidates wished to revise their Form One selection choices in Term Two after assessing their likely performance in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations based on class assignments.

“To respond to this, I have today directed the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) to immediately open a window to allow candidates who are already registered to revise their Form One choices. I expect the council to provide guidelines on the revision exercise to ensure it is completed by Friday, August 2, 2019,” Prof Magoha said yesterday in Nairobi. 

The CS was addressing senior officials from the ministry headquarters, regional and county directors of education, State agencies involved in education, and heads of primary and secondary schools associations on this year’s preparedness for examinations, at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development.

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Magoha warned that those who compromise examinations and the selection exercise would be punished.

“After this window to review Form One selection, there will be no human interaction with the system. Any other matter will be handled online. We have cases where the best pupil is not selected to the school of their choice. This year, all pupils will be placed in one of the schools they selected, based on merit,” Magoha said.

He advised teachers and candidates to adequately revise for the examinations by covering the syllabus and revising thoroughly.

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“As has been the case since 2016, the national examinations will not be leaked. We will do everything in our powers to protect the sanctity of the exams at all times,” Magoha said.  

This year, a total 1,788,731 candidates will sit the national examinations. Of these, 1,088,986 will sit the KCPE, while 699,745 will sit the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations.

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Magoha said his ministry had been on a sustained campaign in the past three years to enhance the credibility of national examinations through the adoption of new measures aimed at alleviating irregularities.

The CS said the ministry had adopted a multi-sectoral approach that included the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and ministries of Interior and ICT to ensure examinations results were credible and of high integrity.

Magoha warned that officials from the Ministry of Education and TSC who did not work as a team would be disciplined. “We will no longer entertain sibling rivalry. We want to deliver as one so that learners and their parents get the best. If you oppose us, we will ignore you; if you continue flouting our rules, we will fire you."

He assured that this year's management of examinations would contain "a few enhanced measures" aimed at sealing off minor loopholes that criminals attempted to use last year to try to introduce cheating, mainly in KCSE.

“These criminals were responsible for last year’s cancellation of KCSE results for 3,427 candidates in 44 centres from 16 counties in the country. Last year there was a case where criminals were charging Sh90,000 for an exam paper. I advise parents not to fall to this. There will be no leakage this year,” Magoha said.

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The CS revealed that the Government had realised that some people were determined to go to great lengths to force innocent candidates to collude in cheating, leading to patterns of similar wrong responses to exam questions.

“Our investigations, for example, discovered cases in mathematics where candidates had identical errors in calculations or correct responses after incorrect working. In practicals, there were cases where a group of candidates would have identical wrong readings in science practicals."

Magoha said other measures to safeguard the examinations included increasing number of containers holding exam papers to 479 from last year’s 459. This, he said, would help to shorten distances in select regions where moving the materials for long distances exposed them to unscrupulous individuals.

“Using pre-monitoring data, and based on last year’s feedback reports, the ministry will map out trouble spot, including structures and buildings within and around schools that will be put under scrutiny before and during exams,” he said.

He added that the multi-sectoral team would extend security surveillance around examination centres beyond the school compounds up to a radius of two kilometres.

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KnecTeachers Service CommissionKCSEMinistry of Education