Management of Kenya's national examinations in the basic education sector is done by the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec). This council was established under the Kenya National Examinations Council Act Cap 225A of the Laws of Kenya, in 1980.
In 2012, this Act was repealed and replaced with Knec Act No. 29 of 2012. Knec was established to conduct school, post school and other examinations after the dissolution of East African Examinations Council and the Ministry of Education (EAEC).
After the dissolution of EAEC, Knec took over the roles of ensuring validity and reliability of examinations to ensure conformity to Kenya's goals and changes in government policy relating to the curriculum and examinations.
The council has undergone several reviews in the quest to enhance reliability, validity and credibility. From the days of Prof George Magoha as council chairman and Fred Matiang'i as the Education Cabinet Secretary, quite a number of reforms took place from which the world was able to begin viewing our examination results as dignified.
The recent proposal that examination papers will be collected twice daily from containers as a way of minimising examination irregularities is welcome since it might help to improve our examination administration processes. The cause of examination irregularities, however, may not only be the collection and delivery time of examination papers to and from the containers.
The council is currently being confronted by other challenges which include lack of moral ethics by personnel handling the exercise, poor co-operation with other agencies that support the examination processes, technological challenges, poor transport network, corruption and lack of resources which hinders the council from successfully executing her mandate with insufficient budgetary allocations.
The Ministry of Education has vehicles, both under learning institutions and with the ministry departments at the ministry headquarters, county and sub county levels. The council should mobilise more vehicles to be used during this exercise. Helicopters to airlift examination papers and personnel to areas that may have challenges occasioned by bad weather and other factors should be sourced.
In as much as the double collection of examination papers sounds like a good approach towards managing examination malpractices, we must be cognisant of the fact that some areas have immense geographical challenges that pose a serious threat to the smooth management of not only examinations, but also normal teaching and learning.
The distance between different learning institutions in some areas, especially in pastoral and nomadic areas, is huge. This should be a cause for concern.
These areas have security challenges, and the road networks are wanting. An area like North Horr, for instance, has a surface area equivalent to the entire Busia County. Fetching examination papers for the first session in the morning and another session in the afternoon will be no mean feat.
It basically means that a lot of time will be spent on travel, leave alone doing the examinations. Usually, heavy rains occur during the administration of national examinations. The Kenya Meteorological Department has warned that there is likely to be heavy rains this time around.
The rains have for the longest time been a major disruptor of examination management exercises. Areas like Osieko in Budalangi Constituency, Busia County, have been affected by rains. We are experiencing unprecedented insecurity in parts of our country, Mandera, Wajir, Moyale, Marsabit, Lamu, Baringo and West Pokot, just to name but a few, have been wracked by insecurity caused by banditry, drought and extremist groups like the Al Shabaab.
Knec has always worked with the Ministry of Interior and more specifically the National Police Service, the Ministry of ICT, Ministry of Education and the TSC and non-governmental agencies to ensure that the running of examinations is efficient, effective, smooth and successful.
We support this because the image of our nation shall always be mirrored in the credibility of our examinations. Although the Kenya National Union of Teachers supports introduction of more measures that will help to reduce and ultimately eliminating examination malpractices, we think introduction of collection of examinations twice in a day from the containers may cause more challenges than remedies in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, smooth running of the entire exercise and good management.
Knec needs more support in terms of funds, motivated personnel to handle the exams and not collection of examination materials twice a day.