KCSE candidates start exams today as State assures of tight rules

Kakamega High school principal George Orino addresses students before rehearsal at the school. Orino strongly believes that the students are well prepared for the national exams starting. [Mumo Munuve, Standard]

Form Four national examinations kick off today in all secondary schools with principals saying they have made adequate plans to facilitate the tests.

Kenya Secondary School Heads Association national chairman Kahi Indimuli said Sh7.5 billion released this week has allowed headteachers to prepare for the examinations.

“Those who had taken examination items on loan have paid; those who had not purchased any materials for practical subjects can also do so,” said Indimuli.

He added: "Some schools had run out of food and this was a major setback especially for the candidates who needed a good studying environment."

Indimuli said lack of funds had frustrated preparations for practical subjects such as biology, physics and chemistry. The Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) sends a list of chemicals to be purchased by schools ahead of students sitting the practical papers.

Basic Education Principal Secretary Julius Jwan said the remaining capitation balance will be sent to schools next month.

“We have at least made some good progress in managing crises in the secondary schools by releasing part of the money, and we hope that examination administration can now progress well,” said Dr Jwan.

The 752,437 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) candidates will today sit the English paper, for both braille and the hearing-impaired. This will be followed by English (Comprehension, Literary Appreciation & Grammar) for the various categories of learners.

The candidates will take a weekend rest and sit the mathematics and chemistry papers on Monday. Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said testing regulations will apply during the entire exam period.

“The practice will remain the same and cheating will still be strictly monitored. Full compliance with Covid-19 protocols is a must and centre managers, invigilators and supervisors must perform their duties diligently,” said Prof Magoha.

He said a multi-agency approach will be enhanced to ensure every corner of the country 'remains alert'.

Jwan said students who are pregnant or have given birth must be allowed to sit the exams. "We shall not discriminate against any student. As long as they were registered to write the tests, they must be allowed to do so."

He also urged parents to ensure their children sit the exams. “We do not want cases of absentee candidates and we are calling on parents to ensure all children who were registered to sit the examinations are given the chance whether in hospitals or anywhere else,” said Jwan.

It also emerged that government officials have been advised to increase surveillance during the weeks that candidates will be writing the exams. Measures will include ensuring that protocols on keeping safe from the coronavirus disease are observed.

“All candidates, invigilators, supervisors, security and centre managers will be required to wear face masks at all times in full compliance with the Covid-19 protocols,” said Jwan.

New examination rules require that candidates wear masks at all times, and that the masks will only be lowered during frisking to allow for identification of the candidates.

“Candidates must wear face masks properly throughout the examination. Refusal shall constitute exam irregularity. Candidates with hearing impairment sitting KCSE may be required to remove their masks when taking the practical signing examination,” read the Knec rules.

Jwan further directed examination officers to ensure that cases of impersonation are detected and the offenders arrested.