Sixteen counties have been identified as examination cheating hot spots ahead of this year’s national examinations.
The Standard has established that Bungoma, Kisumu, Kisii, Homa Bay and Migori counties have been flagged for closer supervision during this year's Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE).
Also on the radar are Machakos, Meru, Isiolo, Turkana, West Pokot, Kericho, Narok, Elgeyo Marakwet, Garissa, Wajir and Mandera counties.
The counties were identified based on previous examination cheating patterns.?
The details emerged as top Ministry of Education and Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) officials left for the United Kingdom for final monitoring of the printing of examination papers.
Some 1.8 million candidates will sit KCPE and KCSE examinations. Out of these, 1,088,986 will sit KCPE between October 29 and 31 while 699,745 will sit KCSE whose main papers begin on October 21 until November 27.
The counties listed as examination hot-spots were arrived at using the pre-monitoring data and last year’s feedback reports. Sources at Knec said the counties were home to the 44 centres where results for 3,427 candidates were cancelled.
The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has already sacked 20 of the 30 teachers who were involved in examination irregularities last year. Data from TSC shows that three teachers have been removed from the TSC register, eight remain suspended and two issued with warning letters.
Schools that were on last year's surveillance list in the identified counties will be under close watch this year. Some 200 schools were put on high cheating risk list last year.
"We are keenly following schools in these counties. They include the notorious ones and a few new ones trying their luck,” said a senior Knec official.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said the findings of Knec investigation pointed fingers at officials, who had relaxed rules of examination management.
“This must be addressed this year,” said Prof Magoha.
Magoha said the multi-sectoral approach of examination management, which brings together the ministries of Education, Interior and ICT as well as the TSC will ensure that no lapses surface this year.
“The script of managing the examinations this year will contain a few enhanced measures aimed at sealing off minor loopholes that criminals attempted to use last year to introduce cheating, especially in the KCSE examination,” said Magoha.
Investigations into last year’s examination cheating discovered glaring collusion in candidates’ answer scripts, including identical errors in calculations, correct responses after incorrect working, identical wording and numerous identical corrections.
Other forms of collusion detected included cases where a group of candidates had identical readings in science practicals. There was also evidence of cases where answers were copied from textbooks and notes or prepared outside the examination room. In some cases, ink of different shades was used in response to one or more questions.
Knec investigations report further revealed that the malpractices took place due to negligence, commission or omission of contracted professionals who did not perform their roles as per the guidelines for management of the examination.
Speaking last week, Magoha claimed that some examination cartels were plotting to infiltrate the administration of this year’s tests after his exit from the Knec board.
“The administration of the examinations will be more intense. Those imagining that I am not in Knec are misled. I am personally overseeing the entire process,” he said.
The CS said that this year, the Government would extend security surveillance around examination centres beyond school compounds up to a radius of two kilometres.
Areas under active surveillance will include structures and buildings within and around schools.
The number of storage containers has also been increased to 479 from last year’s 459 to shorten distances of moving examination materials.
This year, examination materials will only be transported in Government vehicles.
Support staff who provide necessary services at examination centres such as catering and security must be identified in advance and their names presented to centre supervisors at the start of the tests.