The Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations started yesterday with a number of candidates writing their tests in hospital.
The exercise started early in the morning with senior Ministry of Education officials supervising distribution of the English exam paper.
In Homa Bay, six girls who gave birth in various sub-counties including Rachuonyo South, Ndhiwa and Mbita were unable to write the tests in the examination centres where they were registered.
Homa Bay County Commissioner Moses Lilan said they transported the test papers to the health facilities where the girls were admitted. Invigilators were also assigned to supervise the candidates.
“We have made it possible for all candidates to sit the examination,” said Mr Lilan.
In Nakuru, Natasha Kwamboka, a student at Maria Soti Education Centre, got a special visitor at the private hospital ward where she is taking her exams under tight security.
Kwamboka, who was admitted to the Nakuru War Memorial Hospital on Monday, was visited by Education Chief Administrative Secretary Sarah Ruto.
Her mother, Ancillah Monari, remained several metres away from the ward. “My daughter has been in and out of hospital since the year began. Last week, the doctor said she had to be admitted. She was referred to Nakuru from Elgeyo Marakwet, which dimmed her hopes of sitting the final exams,” she said.
Ms Ruto reiterated the government’s commitment to ensure all registered candidates sit the exams regardless of their location.
“Provided the candidate is in the right state to sit an exam, the government will deliver the examination papers to them. We shall ensure no candidate is disadvantaged when the circumstances can allow,” she said.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said a multi-agency team was in charge of the exams.
“We are doing this examination under special circumstances; our children have been out of school for more than seven months. The integrity of this examination is not in question. Its integrity will entirely depend on both uniformed and the multi-agency officers,” said Prof Magoha.
The Teacher Service Commission (TSC) also said all teachers involved in the exercise had been vetted and certified in a new move to stop exam leaks.
TSC chief executive Nancy Macharia said 227,000 teachers are supervising the tests. TSC, she added, forwarded the teachers’ names to the Kenya National Examination Council. Some 752,437 candidates are expected to sit the tests.
Speaking in Mombasa where she supervised the opening of containers where the test papers are stored, Ms Macharia said the selected teachers are of “high integrity and they will deliver credible exams.”
Meanwhile, seven inmates serving life sentences at the Naivasha GK Prison are among 13 inmates sitting the exams at the correctional facility.
Despite facing various challenges, the inmates exuded confidence saying that their teachers, who are also fellow inmates, had prepared them well ahead of the exams.
The officer in charge of the prison Hassan Tari said the education centre was turning out to be a centre of reforms in the penal institution.
He admitted that the pandemic had adversely affected the education programme but was optimistic that the inmates would perform well.
“We have 13 candidates sitting this year’s KCSE and they are all set despite the pandemic that forced us to close down for close to one year,” Mr Tari said.
Naivasha Sub-County Education Officer Bernard Chirchir said the exercise had proceeded without incident on the first day. He said 4,865 candidates will write the exams in 61 centres.
“The exams have been smooth in all our centres, including Naivasha GK Prison. We have seen the number of candidates increase compared to last year,” Mr Chirchir said.
Elsewhere, it was tragedy for a candidate in Nyamira after she lost her newborn baby after undergoing a caesarean delivery.
And despite the pain of delivery and the death of her baby, the girl had to sit the English paper at around 8am.
County Commissioner Amos Mariba said the girl would be accorded necessary support to enable her write the exams despite the trauma she had gone through.
“We have assigned female officers to see to it that she sits the exams comfortably even with the pain,” Mr Mariba said.
The girl is among dozens of candidates across the country writing the national tests after giving birth.
In the same county, three other candidates delivered a few hours to the start of the exams, according to the county security report.
[Additional reporting by Eric Abuga, Kennedy Gachuhi, Antony Gitonga, Stanley Ongwae, James Omoro and Philip Mwakio]