Machogu denies Odinga's tender war claim

Education CS Ezekiel Machogu when they appeared before the National Assembly's Education Committee on December 7, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The government has refuted claims from politicians that this year's national examinations tender was terminated from the former printers.

Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu said the government secures a tender for printing of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE), and the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams competitively every year.

The CS denied claims that the government had denied a UK-based printing company a contract to print this year’s examinations leading to results irregularities.

Speaking before the Education Committee led by Tinderet MP Julius Melly, the CS further clarified that the contract is awarded competitively and there cannot be any way the government can terminate it along the way.

‘‘Each year, a contract is made to print the national examinations. I want to make it clear that nobody’s contract was terminated,’’ Machogu said.

This comes to the backdrop of the Opposition leader Raila Odinga who on Wednesday raised claims that the irregularities recorded in the 2023 KCPE examination were a result of procurement tussles within the Ministry of Education.

Odinga led a scathing attack on the government saying the printing tender was awarded to a local company because the ‘UK-based company Austin Printing Limited, declined to oil the government officials’ pockets.’

‘‘We will subject our children to ridicule, diminish their employment, especially if we allow the integrity of our exams and certification to be questionable. The education sector does not belong to the government of the day. It belongs to all Kenyans,’’ Odinga said.

‘‘The Kenya Kwanza administration awarded the contract to a Mombasa Road based company outsources to a company based in India.’’

This also caught the eye of Emgwen MP, Josses Lelmengit who said the short period given to the company that was awarded the tender might have contributed immensely to the complaints raised.

‘‘The tendering period was too short. On the Sms issue, Machogu observed that after the release, the council prints the results from each school and dispatches these hard copies to the Sub-County Director of Education, who then deliver the results to respective schools,’’ Lelmengit said a move that was supported by Kibra MP Orero.

However, Machogu clarified that every year, the government contracts a company which prints national examinations.

‘‘We have not terminated anybody’s contract. Every year we enter into a contract to print examinations which we have had there for several years. We as a country are even growing to the level of having the capacity to print examinations locally,’’ Machogu said.

However, Melly called the politician to desist from taking the education matters and blowing them out of proportion.

‘‘I want to caution us as politicians that we don’t need to politicize the issues of exams. These are issues that carry the lives of our learners. Let us not have other institutions that give information other than the council,’’ Melly said.

‘‘Issues at hand are issues of our children, it is not the issues of political expediency.  I have seen several issue press statements which are not adding value. i wish to urge everyone to desist from that and go to the facts as they are released from the examination council.’’

Machogu further downplayed the claims that the results were released in a hurry leading to a lot of challenges.

The CS took the committee in the process of marking, verification, and validation of  results to meet the required threshold and standards before they are released.

Machogu explained that this year's examination took 22 days before release was announced, compared to last year when it took 21 days and 19 days the previous year.

‘‘The time that was taken to process the 2023 KCPE results was the longest over the last eight year period since the 2016 reforms,’’ Machogu said.