The 2015 KCSE results were unceremoniously released last week. Across the country, more than 5,000 families are in mourning. Children from these families have nothing to show that they attended secondary schools for four years - thanks to the cancellation of their KCSE results due to ‘examinations irregularities’.
This would translate to more than 63 two streamed schools across the country having all their results cancelled. Some leaked 2015 KCSE exam papers and marking schemes were available to many students across the country. It is safe to argue that the smart students who had access to the leaked papers were not penalized since they were clever enough not to copy from one another. Thus as we celebrate the top scorers, we may be actually idolizing smart cheats
While releasing the results, Education Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i indicated that cases of cheating in the national exam had gone up by 70 per cent. Over time, examination leakages have become the Achilles’ heel of the Kenyan education system.
More than a decade ago, a colleague in a premier national school was approached by a student. The student had gotten the Swahili paper hours before it was scheduled to be done and sought assistance from the teacher.
After consulting the institution’s head, he rounded up all the candidates and took them through the paper. The next morning, the Swahili paper they were given was an identical copy from Knec. The boys, being among the smartest in the country passed with flying colours. The institution’s head, a revered educationist, was so excited that he offered the teacher a cash reward. Using the students’ results, he also saw to it that the teacher was promoted by the TSC.
Just like then, teachers in schools with bright students who got the leakages and ended up with sterling results are walking tall. The good mean grade in their subjects is a sure ticket to TSC promotions. Yes, as a country we have reached that stage where it hardly pays to be hardworking and honest. National examinations leakages are no longer shocking news.
There are rumours that some school heads buy leaked exam scripts from corrupt Knec officials before the exam is administered.
They pass them on to their teachers who drill the students while giving them tips on how to avoid detection during marking.
Like corruption, cheating in national exams has reached scandalous levels. A while ago, Chief Justice Willy Mutunga lamented that Kenya was being run by a Mafia-like cartel. Corruption is so deeply entrenched that it is the norm rather than the exception. President Uhuru Kenyatta during his pilgrimage to the Holy land of Israel repeated similar sentiments.
While addressing Kenyans in Israel, he lamented the fact that we have become a country of ‘expert thieves’. Comrade Mugabe down south is on record too warning his people about corruption in Kenya! Parents too are actively involved in examinations cheating. They give money to their kids to buy leaked papers and smart phones so as to easily access the leakage via Whatsapp.
At this rate, scandals such as the NYS cash grab, Judiciary bribery claims, The Chickengate and the youth Fund heist among others will be child’s play after our kids in schools and colleges cheat their way into the job market. Many schools and colleges of higher learning are churning out hordes of cheats, super thieves and fraudsters.
The tragically humorous spat between the Chief Justice and Hon Duale where the concern seems to shift to a comparison of the magnitude of corruption between the Judiciary and the National assembly should worry any patriotic Kenyan.
We must urgently interrogate our national values and curriculum. There is also need to invest in well-motivated teachers to inculcate values of honesty and integrity. Hard work must become the norm rather than the exception.