In Summary
  • The three-day exercise kicked off at dawn, with almost the entire national government overseeing the release of exam papers to headteachers.
  • Candidates have started on mathematics and English papers in the morning and will write English composition in the afternoon.

The 2019 Standard Eight national exams began on Tuesday across the country, with 1,088,986 candidates writing the tests that mark their transition to secondary schools.

The three-day exercise kicked off at dawn, with almost the entire national government— cabinet secretaries, principal secretaries, chief administrative officers, regional coordinators, county commissioners and their deputies— overseeing the release of exam papers to headteachers.

Overall, the tests started smoothly, with candidates writing mathematics paper from 8.30am.

KCPE examinations distribution centre

A headteacher and a policeman hurry to catch a school van after collecting KCPE exams papers in Nyeri Town on October 29, 2019. ICT CS Joe Mucheru distributed the examinations materials. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP


However, transport hitches delayed the exams in several counties in Coast and parts of Rift Valley.

By 10am, candidates at Mukutani Primary in insecurity-probe Baringo South were yet to start their exam after a police Landcruiser ferrying test materials got stuck at Lorok.

Roads in the area have been rendered impassable due to the heavy rainfall pounding the area.

KCPE examination materials

Ng'ambo High School bus, which was carrying KCPE examination materials, to Kiserian Primary gets stuck in the mud on the outskirts of Marigat town after heavy rainfall. PHOTO | FLORA KOECH | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By 9.30am, the team ferrying the exams was still waiting for assistance Mukutani Police Station, more than 10 kilometres away.

Exams at the flood-prone Ng'ambo Primary in the same constituency were also delayed for half an hour.

In Marigat, the tests delayed at Kiserian Primary School after a bus ferrying exam materials got stuck at R5 on the outskirts of Marigat town.

Interior CS Fred Matiang'i

Interior CS Fred Matiang'i at the Gilgil DCC's office to oversee the distribution of KCPE examinations on October 29, 2019. PHOTO | CHEBOITE KIGEN | NATION MEDIA GROUP

In neighbouring West Pokot County, more than 23 schools in failed to receive their examination materials on time after river Kasei bursts its banks and rendered roads impassable.

A candidate at Ortum Primary School in the county is sitting her exams in hospital after she delivered on Monday night.

In Tana River County, a machine boat was used to deliver exams to five centres in Majengo area after the bridge linking the exam centres to the mainland was submerged.

KCPE exams

Murang'a County Commander Josephat Kinyua briefs police officers who will be manning KCPE examination exercise on October 29, 2019. PHOTO | NDUNG'U GACHANE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

At Gilgil NYS Primary School in Nakuru, the exams were delayed for about half an hour after Interior CS Fred Matiang’i ordered for a relocation of KCPE candidates who were sitting their exam in a dilapidated structure.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha, who supervised release of papers in Mombasa, assured candidates and the country that the hitches would be solved.

Speaking at Uhuru na Kazi, the CS assured the pupils that floods would not stop their tests.

Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha supervised the release of the KCPE exam papers in Mombasa on October 29, 2019. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Ten helicopters, he said, were on standby to ferry the exam materials to flood-hit areas.

“In addition to police helicopters, we have 10 more to reach areas that roads were swept away by the rains currently pounding most parts of the country. We have Mandera, Wajir, Tana River, Marsabit, Lamu and Isiolo counties,” he said.

The professor said they had relocated candidates from five schools affected by the floods to other examination centres for their safety.

KCPE examinations distribution centre

The KCPE examinations distribution centre in Tana River. Supervisors were ready to pick the papers at 6am on October 29, 2019. PHOTO | STEPHEN ODUOR | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The CS said a number of ambulances were on standby in case of emergencies to help some of the expectant candidates.

“I’m not going to mention the counties because I do not want to victimise anyone. But pregnancy is a non-issue we have everything under control no candidate will miss their exams,” he said.

The minister warned candidates and examiners against cheating as he named Migori, Kisii and Homa Bay counties as some of the areas that were under close watch.

KCPE examinations distribution centre

Tharaka Nithi County Police Commander Charles Mbatu examination distributes KCPE examinations materials at Chuka Sub County centre on October 29, 2019. With him is County Commissioner Beverly Opwora (left) and County Director of Education Bridget Wambua. Ms Opwora has warned that any malpractice will not be tolerated. PHOTO | ALEX NJERU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“I know there are people who are going to get mad because I’m saying this, but I will say it anyway, we have Migori, Kisii and Homa Bay as epic centres,” he said as he added Mandera and Garissa to the list.

“I don’t want to scare the children I want to tell you if you try cheating we will catch you.”

The CS said the exams had no leaked and no fake papers were circulating online.

KCPE examination distribution centre

Headteachers, police at the KCPE examination papers distribution centre at the Kisumu Central deputy commissioner's offices on October 29, 2019. PHOTO | ONDARI OGEGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“Please parents allow your children peace, there is nothing much you can give them but prayers. Let no one cheat you that there are experts who have exams and give out money, the exam has not leaked,” he affirmed.

Prof Magoha warned centre managers against blocking the candidates from taking their tests due to unpaid levies.

“If you block any child you have yourself to blame. You cannot stop a child from taking an exam because of Sh300 which is illegally charged. If there are any issues let the child do the exams then sort it later,” said the CS as he assured the pupils that there will be 100 percent transition to secondary school irrespective of what they score.

Basic Education PS Belio Kipsang oversees the distribution of KCPE examinations papers at the Kisumu East deputy commissioner's offices on October 29, 2019. PHOTO | ELIZABETH OJINA | NMG

His PS Belio Kipsang monitored the exercise in Kisumu where he urged exam officials to ensure that the exams are not compromised.

"Let's not do anything that will compromise the candidates. They have an opportunity to move to the next level. Each one of them has a place in the secondary schools," said Dr Kipsang.

In Murang’a County, the exam started well, with Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Urban Housing James Macharia overseeing the distribution of materials in Kigumo constituency.

KCPE examinations materials

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia distributes KCPE examinations materials to headteachers in Murang'a at the Kigumo DCC office on October 29, 2019. PHOTO | NDUNG'U GACHANE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Statistics show that 14,625 boys and 14,362 girls sitting the exams in public and private primary schools.

The CS said government was keen in ensuring that the process continues and ends smoothly, adding that they cancelled the Cabinet meeting to make sure that they go round the country to motivate pupils.

"This is a serious exercise and to show the government commitment, we cancelled the cabinet meetings to monitor the exams around the country, we are moulding the future leaders and that's why we are taking the whole process with the seriousness it deserves," he said.

Teachers Service Commission CEO Nancy Macharia distributes KCPE examinations materials to headteachers in Naivasha on October 29, 2019. PHOTO | MACHARIA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

In Meru, Public Service Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia reiterated the government’s commitment to ensuring credible KCPE results, by sealing all the loopholes for cheating.

She said the government was keen on ensuring the country’s exams were globally competitive and guarantee those moving to study in other countries had easy access.

In Nyeri, ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru oversaw the opening of the Nyeri Central exam container.

Two civilians are among the 11 inmates sitting for the 2019 KCPE examinations at the Bungoma Prison. According to the facility’s Deputy Officer Francis Chisoka, the two volunteered to come back to sit for the tests after they completed their sentences. PHOTO | DENNIS LUBANGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A total of 17,300 candidates, including adults, are writing the exams.

Security was tight at the centre with more than 850 security officers who were ready to pair up with the centre managers and accompany them to their respective centres.

Mr Mucheru commended the security team and the centre managers, saying that they had arrived in good time.

KCPE examinations distribution centre

Isiolo Sub-County deputy county commissioner Mohammed Maow (right) opens the container with KCPE exam papers outside his office in Isiolo town. Mr Maow warned supervisors, invigilators and police officers against indulging in drug and alcohol abuse during the examination period. PHOTO | WAWERU WAIRIMU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“The officers are very eager to see that things are working well and the school headteachers were here very early and we believe the exam has started on a good footing,” he said.

And in Isiolo, KCPE Examination officials among them supervisors, invigilators and police officers have been warned against indulgence in drug and alcohol abuse for the next three days when candidates will be sitting for the exams.

Speaking shortly after opening the container with the exams in Isiolo town, Isiolo Sub-County Deputy County Commissioner Mohammed Maow maintained that those found culpable will be arrested and their roles taken over by their deputies.


KCPE centre managers line up to receiving examination papers in Chuka Town on October 29, 2019. PHOTO | ALEX NJERU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“Those of you used to taking alcohol should refrain for the three days. If we suspect that you are under influence of alcohol, we will lock you in,” Mr Maow stressed on Tuesday morning.

The administrator asked the officials to uphold high level of integrity and ensure smooth running of the process.

“We expect you to portray high degree of integrity as we all ensure that our candidates have a conducive environment while sitting for the exams,” he noted.

KCPE examinations distribution centre

Headteachers gather at the Narok County Commissioner's offices to collect KCPE exam papers on October 29, 2019. PHOTO | GEORGE SAYAGIE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A total of 3450 pupils are sitting for the KCPE exams in the county.

Reporting by Mishi Gongo, Mary Wambui, Florah Koech, Oscar Kakai, Ndung’u Gachane, Manase Otsialo, Samuel Baya, Charles Wanyoro, Regina Kinogu and Waweru Wairimu.