In Summary
  • A total of 699,745 candidates are expected to take the test compared with 664,585 last year.
  • Knec acting CEO Mercy Karogo said some 70,790 personnel will be used during the field administration of this year’s KCSE examinations.
  • Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion urged the government to beef up security and ensure there are no malpractices.

Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations start on Monday at 10,287 exam centres across the country amid heavy rain in most parts.

A total of 699,745 candidates are expected to take the tests compared to 664,585 in 2018.

As was the case with the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations, which ended on Thursday, this year’s Form Four exams will be tightly monitored by the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) and security agencies to ward off malpractices.

The government is expected to deploy its machinery to seal loopholes and stamp out the collusion that led to cancellation of results for 3,427 candidates at 44 centres from 16 counties due to cheating in 2018. compared to 1,205 in 2017.

PERSONNEL

Knec's acting Chief Executive Officer Mercy Karogo said some 70,790 personnel will be used during the field administration of the examinations.

Dr Karogo assured the country that all is set for the exams and asked candidates not to be deceived to engage in irregularities.

“We cannot allow our country to go back to where we were before the drastic measures were put in place by the government in 2016 to ensured sanity in our education system prevailed,” she said.

On Monday, candidates will start with English functional skills testing at 8am and later write English comprehension, literary appreciation and grammar tests in the afternoon.

On Tuesday, they will write Mathematics Alternative A early morning and Chemistry Paper One at 11am.

On Wednesday they will write English creative composition and essays based on set texts and Chemistry Paper Two.

SECURITY

On Sunday, Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion urged the government to beef up security and ensure there are no malpractices.

“We expect to witness credibly managed examinations conducted in a professional atmosphere free of any malpractices. Knut wishes all candidates success,” he said.

Education CS Prof George Magoha will be leading the exercise for the first time as a CS, having done so from 2016 as Knec chairman. He has promised to deal with those who attempt to engage in any malpractices.

The examinations which will be done in 16 working days and will end on November 27 before 26,597 examiners embark on marking the scripts.

The results expected before the end of the year will help determine the student's career paths.

CHEATING

Efforts by the government to tame cheating will also be put to test after several months of threats to offenders.

In 2018, the ministry failed to live up to expectations despite heavy resource allocation; more cases of cheatings were reported as compared to other years and the ministry admitted that in some cases, field officers relaxed the rules.

Knec has directed monitors to be report on time at storage facilities, witness their opening and ensure issuance of examination materials to centre managers is done strictly by education officers manning the facilities.

The 400 monitors deployed across the country will expressly enter examination centres upon presenting their badges.

The council will use a total of 479 containers for storage of examination materials, up from the 459 used in 2018.

CARTELS

On Saturday, Prof Magoha disclosed that examination cheating cartels were working round the clock to have excess to the materials.

The Cabinet Secretary said some rogue schools plan to have an unfair advantage over the rest and are setting up stations outside schools to facilitate cheating.

He asked parents not to give money to facilitate cheating as their children's future is on the line.

Prof Magoha further directed examination officials to strictly enforce measures meant to ensure security of the examinations, all the way from storage containers to centres.

“All centre managers must travel in designated vehicles and be escorted by security as directed. This will help to stamp out the cases of early exposure that were reported in some areas last year,” said Prof Magoha.

The ministry also extended security surveillance to up to two kilometres of each centre to help detect attempted cheating.

This move was based on a discovery last year that some examination materials were sneaked to teachers’ quarters, kiosks and buildings around some centres.

OTHER ISSUES

A report by the Education ministry states that examiners last year reported that some of the questions that tested candidates’ ability to discuss or explain certain concepts that they had learnt were poorly answered, with many candidates providing sketchy answers.

As such, the ministry is worried by candidates’ over-reliance on sketchy revision books and past papers which don’t contain detailed explanations.

Another report on KCSE performance, by the Directorate of Quality Assurance at the ministry, showed poor performance was due to head teachers' failure to initiate proper instructional supervision through establishment of institution-based quality assurance mechanisms.

There were also non-functional subject panels, inadequate staff development initiatives aimed at sharpening teaching skills, inadequate staff performance due to lack of promotions as well as lack of job satisfaction and job enrichment.