End acrimony during KCSE exams marking

Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

The standoff at a Kenya Certificate for Secondary Education (KCSE) marking centre in Kiambu on Tuesday this week is a matter of concern not only to the examiners and the education officials, but also Kenyans at large.

The examiners threatened to paralyse the marking of Christian Religious Education (CRE) Paper One at St Francis Girl's High School-Mang'u to demand better terms and working conditions.

But while the Education officials acted fast and helped return the situation to nolmarcy, it is notable that this is not the first such protest during marking of KCSE examination papers.

In 2019, markers at Machakos Girls High School and Starehe Girls Centre threatened to down tools, complaining that the money they were being paid to mark scripts was not enough.

Besides money, there have been reports of examiners complaining of being overworked, with some of them claiming they are forced to work from 4am to 10pm.

If this is true, it doesn't augur well for their health. And not only that, fatigue can also interfere with the quality of their marking and ultimately the grades they award students.

While we understand that it is hard to make every examiner happy, we believe the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) in conjunction with the Education ministry can explore ways of forestalling such protests to ensure the marking process goes on smoothly in future.

Reducing the marking hours - although some examiners would want to mark as many papers as possible as they are paid paper - would be highly advisable.

It is important that the payment rates to be agreed upon by the Knec and the examiners, preferably through teachers' unions.

With such an agreement, it would amount to sabotage for examiners to paralyse marking over alleged poor payment.