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Pandemic may disrupt KCPE and KCSE exams

By Augustine Oduor | March 24th 2020

Pupils head home after schools were shut down following coronavirus pandemic. Unless the disease is brought under control, the fate of KCPE and KCSE examinations hang in the balance. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Two national examinations might be delayed this year if the coronavirus lockdown continues for another two months.

Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered all schools closed for 30 days to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. This means that the earliest learning may resume in schools is April 16, and that is only if the country can contain the spread of the virus.

Besides disruption of travel to the UK, where the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination papers are printed, head teachers say the lockdown will disrupt practical tests and ruin chances of covering the school.

The Standard has established that top Education and Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) officials are unable to travel to Britain to fast-track revision and printing of the two national examinations.

Sources familiar with the process said that final touches to KCPE and KCSE examinations questions are usually done in April.

“Usually by April and May proof reading and printing is done and packaging starts immediately in readiness for transportation into the country,” said an insider.

Available Knec data shows that by close of examination registration in February 28, some 1,938,667 candidates had registered to write the tests.

Primary and secondary school head teachers who spoke to The Standard yesterday said their major fear remains coverage of the syllabus ahead of the national examinations.

Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha) national chairman Kahi Indimuli yesterday said the education sector might face serious challenges should the lockdown go beyond April.

“If this persists beyond next month, definitely we will have to reorganise examinations. We do not wish to speak about it now because we still have time,” said Indimuli.

Knec has already released the examination timetable that shows KCPE examinations will start on October 27, with rehearsals scheduled a day before. KCSE examinations are scheduled to start on November 2.

Practical examinations for subjects such as agriculture are already underway.

However, the uploading of agriculture project progress reports may be affected if the lockdown continues beyond April.

According to Indimuli, the ongoing interventions to allow students learn through radio and the internet may not be enough for this year’s examination candidates.

“The truth is the syllabus will not have been covered effectively,” he said.

Primary school head teachers’ association national chairman Nicholas Gathemia said the coronavirus lockdown will affect this year’s school timetable.

“There definitely will be some reorganisation of school calendar,” said Mr Gathemia.

According to the school calendar, institutions ought to have closed by April 9 for first term.

Other education programmes are also likely to be interrupted. For example, a national audit of school infrastructure to assess their level of preparedness to anchor the new 2-6-3-3-3 Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) system of education has been halted.

The CBC task force gazetted by Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has been collecting data to enable it advise the ministry where Junior Secondary school would be domiciled.

Activities under the implementation of the CBC are also set to be disrupted, as will the national rollout of grade five course books.

Still under CBC, plans to take in the first lot of teacher trainees to diploma colleges may be disrupted.

The Teachers Service Commission has also suspended all teacher-promotion interviews that were to be conducted last week.

More disruptions

Other activities likely to be affected this term include drama, and music as well as sports.

At university level, the second revision of courses by candidates joining universities and colleges may be delayed.

Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) had already completed first revision and retreated to process applications ahead of the second revision.

Universities managers have raised concern that the delay to complete the placement in time will affect reporting dates.

Vice chancellors also said they may have to push back their graduation ceremonies, saying the closure of universities delayed administration of semester examinations.

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