Thousands of Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination candidates may now have to walk long distances to sit the tests after a court authorised the examinations body to merge centres with less than 30 students.
This now means that it is no longer a must for learners to sit examinations in centres where they were registered as has been previously the case.
In a major win that will enhance proper administration of the examinations, Justice Anthony Mrima handed Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) a chance to also boost credibility of the tests.
Justice Mrima, who was ruling in a court case over circulars issued by KNEC on joint hosting of examination centres, found that the council can change them but ought to consult stakeholders.
At the same time, he ruled that due to the application of technology, candidates may not need to appear physically in the places they had registered in.
“Whereas candidates reasonably expect to sit for the examinations at the physical locations of their examination centres, it remains a fact that circumstances may compel the change of such physical locations,” ruled Justice Mrima.
He continued: “That must have been the deliberate reason why the law does not make any provisions on candidates sitting for their examinations at the physical examination centres they registered for the examinations.”
Justice Mrima heard that even though the council had previously registered schools with more than 15 candidates to be examination centers, there were still challenges of many examination centers demanding for higher personnel.
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This means that each centre required managers, supervisors and invigilators, hence, increasing the cost of running the examinations.
In court, KNEC argued that with the reduction of examination centres, the monitoring would be effectively conducted to deter malpractices and maintain the integrity of the examination.
The court heard that at the close of the registration exercise for the 2021 examinations, KNEC had registered 608 and 91 new KCPE and KCSE examination centres respectively with less than 30 candidates. At the same time, it had also registered 27 new centres with less than 15 candidates.
KNEC data tabled in court shows that since 2015, there has been a 33 per cent increase in the enrollment of candidates in both primary and secondary schools from 1.4 million to 1.9 million.
The judge found that although Knec had not consulted, it had justified through data why mergers would improve efficiency and guarantee exam integrity.
KNEC had been sued over three circulars issued in May, June and July last year on management of 2021 and 2022 KCPE and KCSE.
In the case, David Wanyoike argued that the circulars were contradictory and were against the KNEC Act. According to him, candidates ought to sit for their national exams in stations that they registered in.
He also faulted KNEC for failing to consult Kenya Private Schools Association, teachers unions and Kenya Parents Association.