MPs accuse CA, DCI of abetting cheating in examinations

Hellen Nyabuto the principal of Moi Kapsowar Girls' High School in Elgeyo Marakwet County explains how they use CCTV to curb exam cheating. [File, Standard] 

MPs are blaming two government agencies for abetting exam cheating by shielding perpetrators.

The National Assembly Education Committee faulted the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) for not doing enough in the management of national examinations.

MPs said that even after cases of exam malpractice are submitted to the two State agencies, no single individual has been taken to court.

This emerged as CA revealed that 36 more cases of cybercrime accounts are under investigation four months to this year’s national examinations. Speaking after meeting the two government agencies, Committee Chairman Julius Melly said those who have been mandated to advise on the integrity of exams failed in their role.

‘‘The DCI, the information they gave us was inconclusive. They have given us stale information which is about six months old,’’ Melly said.

 ‘‘The information they brought before this committee was not conclusive, we have taken them back to come before this committee with more detailed information on the peddlers of exam cheating who were arrested,’’ Melly said.

In a letter sent by the (Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) Chief Executive David Njengere, the council requested CA to pull down telegram channels and Facebook forums used in committing the irregularities.

‘‘Early exposure of national examinations papers on social media platforms is an emerging threat that Knec is currently grappling with,’’ Dr Njengere said in a letter dated December 8, 2022 ‘‘To avert this threat, the Council is requesting assistance from your organisation to pull down some identified telegram channels and Facebook forums,’’ Njengere said.

It however emerged that Knec is still frustrated by the online predators who make serious attempts to compromise the national tests.

Forensic evidence

CA Director General Ezra Chiloba however said they receive numerous requests for assistance in the investigation of cybercrimes, which includes examination-related offences facilitated through technology.

Communication of Authority of Kenya CEO Ezra Chiloba appearing before National Assembly Committee on Education over 2022 exam cheating claims on July, 04, 2023. [Samson Wire, Standard]

‘‘Our partnership enables the identification of perpetrators, sharing of cyber threat information, and the preservation of digital forensic evidence to facilitate investigation and prosecution of cyber-crime,’’ Chiloba said. ‘‘Such collaboration also enables us to take-down down illegal online channels and content.’’

Chiloba admitted that during the examination period, there is an upsurge in technology-enabled examination malpractices which are hard to crack. He revealed that in the last three years, 98 cases of social media accounts perpetrating cybercrime targeted the education sector.

According to him, in 2021, 34 cases of social media impersonation were targeted at the Ministry of Education, Kenya National Examination Council and the Teachers Service Commission. There were 28 cases in 2022.

Some 36 cases have already been identified this year, four months before the exams kick off.

‘‘The most popular platforms for perpetrating this vice are; Telegram, WhatsApp, and Signal, and as a result have a huge following. These platforms have therefore been used to spread exam misinformation, exam fraud, and illegal distribution of exam material, among other cyber-related offences,’’ he stated.

Melly blamed the National Kenya Computer Incident Response Team - Coordination Centre (National KE-CIRT/CC) saying five years since it was formed, it has failed to mitigate cyber threats and foster a safer Kenyan cyberspace.

He said four months before the next examinations kick-off, the teams mandated to ensure the integrity of the exams do not have answers to the challenges facing the council.

Melly said it was clear that there was a cover-up in terms of the people who were involved in abetting the crime. Kabondo Kasipul MP Eve Obara warned the government officers from generalising about the people they are investigating and instead name and shame them.