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Exams cheating tricks turn focus on private centres

By Augustine Oduor and Eric Abuga | November 9th 2019
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha addresses journalists in Kisii.

The Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) is back to the drawing board after a section of private exam centres recorded cheating cases during the first week of the KCSE administration.

Sources say the Ministry of Education and the council are disturbed by the new cheating trends, mainly impersonation, in some private centres.

It emerged that the cheating scheme involves candidates, teachers and examination officials.

Saturday Standard has established that national security agencies and Knec officials have been directed to double their surveillance in private schools.

Under the new tricks, owners and managers of private examination centers collect money to compromise examination officials to allow strangers to sit the examinations.

Most shocking is how teachers dress like cooks and hang around examination centres to aid in cheating.

In some cases, candidates are allowed to enter the examination centres with mobile phones and receive answers worked out in rented premises around the schools.

Some examination officials, security officers and center managers collude to open question papers prior to the set time to facilitate the scheme.

A statement released yesterday by Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha at the end of first week of examination administration confirmed the anger in government circles over the exam malpractices.

Failed to show up

“We are disappointed that some unscrupulous people, mainly in private centres, are going to great heights to invent new tricks meant to beat our formidable measures,” said Prof Magoha.

Some 699,746 candidates are sitting the examinations.

It emerged that Migori, Kisii, Homa Bay, Garissa, Mandera and Wajir Counties have been flagged out with sections of Nairobi also put on high surveillance.

In Kisii County, 11 people were arrested at Milimani Ramasha Academy in connection with the production of a fake photo identification album imitating that of the KNEC roll.

The arrested persons impersonated the real candidates who were kept away from the school during the examination.

The school management was at pains to explain the events even as a number of the alleged impersonators managed to evade arrest.

Investigations by Saturday Standard however revealed that the scam involves senior ministry officials, the school administration and parents who paid up to Sh50,000 to seal the deal.

A senior detective investigating the matter said the big number of impersonators could not pass without knowledge of the education officials.

An official within the school said the defacing of the examination identification cards was done with the knowledge of local Ministry of Education officials who also received the money.

The suspect activities caught the eye of keen security and examination agencies after the principal failed to show up to pick the question papers at the container.

Instead, the director of the private school is said to have picked examination papers from the Sub County headquarters.  

A total of 13 suspects were presented before Kisii Senior Resident Magistrate SK Onjoro.

Among them were the school director Charles Osoro, an alleged Deputy Principal, the Center Supervisor and a cook at the school.

The four were charged with aiding impersonation at the school and were each released on a cash bail of Sh40,000 or a bond of Sh100,000 with a similar surety.

The other 11 alleged impersonators faced charges of impersonation contrary to section 31(a) of the Kenya National Examination number 29 of 2012.

They were released on a cash bail of Sh20,000 and bond of Sh50,000 with a similar surety.

Knec also noted cases where teachers were dressed as cooks with the intention of aiding candidates to cheat in their examinations.

Under this arrangement, the teachers were found working out answers to questions, which were sneaked out and strategically put them in toilets for students to pick.


Magoha also said Knec noted a case where a centre manager transported answer scripts to an examination container in a private vehicle.

And in yet another case, some 26 people among them candidates at St Theresa Boys Secondary School in Nairobi were arrested as KCSE national examinations entered day three.

Magoha yesterday said more than 50 mobile phone handsets had been confiscated from various examination centres across the country. Of these, 35 were collected at the St Teresa’s private centre in Nairobi.

Seven were collected from Diffu and Tawakal centres in Garissa.

“The gadgets were meant to relay answers to examination rooms, a strategy that could not work thanks to our watchful examination officials,” said Magoha.

The CS has directed thorough frisking of candidates and scrutiny of candidates photographs before examinations start.

Some 10 examination officials have been replaced in various centres.

Magoha said some of the officials allowed un-authorised people to access examination centres while others received bribes to aid cheating.

Two examination officials, one at a private centre in Nairobi were arrested and replaced after they exposed the contents of examination papers before the scheduled time.

 “These officials accept as much as Sh120,000 to play ball in the cheating,” the CS said.

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