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A case for postponing this year's KCSE exam

By Augustine Oduor | May 18th 2020 at 12:10:00 GMT +0300

Majority of secondary schools had only covered 20 per cent of the syllabus by March 15 when they were closed to mitigate spread of Covid-19.

A nationwide survey conducted by the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) further reveals that nearly 80 per cent of the learners were not given enough assignments and study materials  to take home after the schools were closed. 

The study made a strong case for postponing of this year’s national examinations even as the proposed school opening date became more uncertain.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha had indicated a tentative schools opening date of June 4, but a new directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta on cessation of movement has pushed this to two days later.

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Covid 19 Time Series


This means that about 12 weeks of the school calendar will have been lost, equivalent to an academic term, laying a great challenge to coverage of school syllabus ahead of national examinations.

Kuppet's report titled Assessment of Covid-19 outbreak and educational mitigation measures on academic programmes in secondary schools in Kenya states majority of teachers and learners do not support an accelerated academic programme where all extra-curricula and co-curricula activities are cancelled to allow more teaching time.

Reconsider KCSE timetable

“Based on these findings the study recommends that since the results reveal an average of 20 per cent syllabus coverage, it will be prudent for the Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) to reconsider the timelines for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination this year,” reads the report.

Kuppet Secretary General Akello Misori said yesterday that the findings will assist Knec in assessing the level of preparation of this year’s candidates to be able to administer national examinations within a reasonable time frame.

The findings by Kuppet are likely to trigger national debate and also guide the Covid-19 Education Response Committee deliberations on how to restore the school calendar.

Prof Magoha formed the committee last week to advise on the schools reopening.

The team, led by Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development (KICD) Chairperson Sarah Ruto, has already asked education stakeholders to submit their views.

Part of the responsibility of the team will be to advise on the health and safety measures to be put in place for learners, teachers and entire school communities.

They will also identify institutions that may have been adversely affected by Covid-19 and advise on mitigation and recovery measures.

Pressure has been piling on the government to give clear road map for schools' re-opening and to explain the fate of national examinations for the 1.6 million candidates.

However, even as the government insists that the national examination calendar remains unchanged, the survey by Kuppet found that 56 per cent of the respondents felt that the tests should be re-scheduled.

The survey found that only two per cent of schools had covered up to 70 per cent of the syllabus with more than a third of the schools covering between 20-50 per cent.

Only about 10 per cent of the schools had covered more than half of the syllabus.

Releasing the study report, Misori said more than 80 per cent of the learners were not given enough take-away assignments and academic materials when schools closed.

The report says that only 20.67 per cent of students were provided with assignment and with adequate academic materials.

County schools

Students in county schools were given the most assignments and learning materials, compared to sub county boarding schools and extra-county schools and national schools.

Only 14 per cent of students in sub-county day schools were given assignments.

With schools closed, the Ministry of Education rolled out online learning with all public school children expected to access lessons through radio, TV and the internet. 

However, according to Kuppet's study, only 42 per cent of parents assisted their children with schoolwork at home.

“Only 0.1 per cent were very supportive to their children when it comes to school work, 9.9 per cent were supportive to their children while 32 per cent where slightly supportive to their children with school work,” reads report.

According to Misori, all stakeholders in the education system must be involved in the home-learning programme.

The government has been counting on cutting some activities when schools resume to allow more learning time for students.

However, Kuppet's report indicates that majority of teachers and students felt that games and other co-curricular activities should not be scrapped.

“Sixty seven per cent of the respondents did not agree with accelerated (learning) programmes without co-curricula and extra curricula activities to maintain the KCSE examination as scheduled,” states the report.

Some 460 schools and colleges across the country have been designated as coronavirus isolation centres.

According to Kuppet, less than one per cent of these schools have been fumigated or staff tested for Covid-19.

Covid-19 KCSE examination Ministry of Education KCPE
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