- The exams will be tightly monitored by the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) and security agencies to ward off malpractices.
The 2019 Form Four national exams began on Monday across the country, with 699,745 candidates writing the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) tests.
As was the case with the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations, which ended on Thursday, the exams will be tightly monitored by the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) and security agencies to ward off malpractices.
The candidates started with English functional skills testing at 8am and later write English comprehension, literary appreciation and grammar tests in the afternoon.
Here is a round-up of how the day one of the examinations kicked off.
Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha has warned parents in Nyanza region who he said were planning to buy KCSE examinations.
Prof Magoha, who was speaking during the distribution of KCSE examination papers at the Kisumu East Deputy County Commissioner’s office, said he was aware that some parents in Homa Bay, Migori and Kisii counties had made contributions of Sh200,000 to buy exams.
Tragedy marred day one of KCSE in Nakuru County when one of the centre manager on her way to examination materials at the Naivasha container died in a grisly road accident.
The headteacher of Rev Jeremiah Gitau Secondary School was killed after the vehicle she was travelling in hit a lorry in Longonot along the Maai Mahiu-Naivasha highway.
Two other centre managers, from Mustard Seed and Kiambogo Secondary schools, also suffered serious injuries and were rushed to Kijabe Mission Hospital.
Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Mbogo Mathioya said that following the incident, arrangements were made to have the exam materials dispatched to the affected schools.
Meanwhile, a candidate who gave birth at Kijabe Mission Hospital was transferred to Naivasha Sub-County hospital with her baby, where the mother was sit her exam.
"Everything is set and we have ensured the candidate is able to sit her examination with minimum distractions," Mr Mathioya said.
Nakuru County Education Director Lawrence Karuntimi said five girls were taking their exams in different hospitals within the county.
In Molo, a private candidate at Njenga Karume Secondary School started his exams with a wrong photo stamped on the desk.
Molo Sub-County Deputy Director of Education Vincent Rono said the error will not deny the student opportunity to sit for his exams.
"The photo on the desk is different from the candidates’ details that include the name and the index number but we have taken necessary measures on the issue and forwarded it to Knec for correction," said Mr Rono.
In Narok, the County Chief Administrative Secretary for Interior Patrick Ole Ntutu called on teachers and security forces to be "extra vigilant".
"We are here on behalf of the President, he is watching and must make sure the exams are safe and secured," said Mr Ntutu.
The county director of education Mr Phillip Wambua said 8,209 candidates were sitting the exam, an increase of 506 candidates compared to last year’s 7,703. He added that there were more girls taking the exam up by 314 from 3,736.
Three candidates wrote their English papers at the Embu Referral Hospital after giving birth.
Embu County Director of Education James Kairu said 11,610 candidates will sit exams in 212 examination centres.
"The candidates had covered the syllabus and we expect them to do well," he said.
Teachers Service Commission chief executive Nancy Macharia oversaw the release of the test papers in Nyeri where she warned centre managers against malpractices.
More than 18,000 Form Four students will sit for their examination in the 243 centres across the county.
“We had 56 teachers who were caught for malpractice last week and I am hoping that for KCSE we will not have any because we have stringent measures in place and we shall be taking action on them,” she said.
She urged them to adhere to guidelines to avoid interruptions and conflicts.
“When you pick these exams, make sure you transport them with government vehicles and you must have security because we are working as a team. Let us obey the Knec guidelines,” she said.
“All we want is for our children to do the best. You as teachers are not siting for the exams so why would you risk it all by making small mistakes that could cost you?” Ms Macharia posed.
- THARAKA NITHI
In Tharaka-Nithi, the County Commissioner Ms Beverly Opwora said a total of 10,242 candidates in 162 centres will seat for the exams.
"I am looking forward to our county having a smooth examination exercise, without any form of illegalities," said Ms Opwora.
- COAST REGION
A chopper is on standby to help in ferrying examination materials in inaccessible areas within Coast region as 39,565 candidates sit their final secondary school exam.
A total of 20,812 boys and 18,753 girls write their papers in 628 centres across the six counties in the region.
Kilifi has the highest number of candidates at 15,144 followed by Mombasa at 9,759, Kwale 6,621, Taita Taveta 4,929, Tana River 1,741 and Lamu with 1,371.
On transport hitches reported in the region, Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang, speaking in Mombasa, said a team has been sent to Tana River County to access roads that are impassable.
“However, we have a chopper on standby in case of any eventuality. Teachers and security team must be consolidated to make manage movement of the examination materials and their safety,” added the PS.
In Lamu, teachers have been asked to keep off examination centres.
Lamu County Director of Education Joshua Kaaga said only contracted teachers working with Knec are allowed to handle examination materials. He said the teachers' duty to prepare students for the tests was over.
“We don’t want a scenario where teachers try to help their students in doing the exams. In fact, the candidates are currently under Knec officials and therefore, teachers should keep off. If we find you breaching the rules, we will not hesitate to take disciplinary action against you,” said Mr Kaaga.
Infrastructure PS Paul Maringa explained the heavy presence of police officers in both the KCPE last week and the KCSE saying it is now a security issue.
Prof Maringa, who spoke in Murang'a where he distributed the test papers, said the government was keen at ensuring that at no stage is the exam compromised.
“Kenyan education is valued both locally and internationally and that’s why the government is not taking chances to have the integrity in the exercise. Exams have taken a contemporary direction and it is a security matter,” he said.
“The exams are meant to be a quality assurance and the lessons of honesty and since Kenya is in a global society competition, the children who are being taken through the education system will join the international resource pool of factors of production. If they are not competitive they won’t be able to vie for competitive jobs internationally,” he added.
Some 24,924 students will sit for the exams in 339 centres with County Education Director Ann Kiiru saying two of the candidates at a school in Kangema are pregnant.
In Baringo, a student at St Mary’s Secondary School, Tenges sat her exam at the county's referral hospital after she gave birth on Sunday.
“The student underwent a caesarean section on Sunday but she is in a stable condition. She will however sit for her examination at the facility until she fully recovers,” said Paul Kandie, a nurse.
- UASIN GISHU
In Eldoret, journalists were barred from covering start of the exam at Moi Girls High School.
The school principal Ms Christine Chumba ordered police officers manning the centre to tell journalists to vacate the compound.
“This people are not even supposed to be in this compound can you act immediately,” Ms Chumba ordered.
Twenty five inmates are also among candidates sitting for KCSE this year in Uasin Gishu County.
- WESTERN REGION
A girl who gave birth to twins in Matungu sub-county, Kakamega is among the candidates sitting the exams.
The girl from St Mary's Ebusambe Secondary School gave birth on Sunday evening, a few hours before the kick-off of the national examinations.
Another candidate, Felix Nyongesa of Koyonzo Boys, who had had an operation on Friday, could not sit his exam at the school and was evacuated to hospital where he continued his exam.
Western region director of education Stephen Barongo said the exams had kicked off without a hitch.
"Everything is okay, the examination exercise is clean and we expect clean results as a region. We are following up on those in hospital to ensure they are doing their exams in a conducive environment," said Mr Barongo.
Meanwhile, family in Nyatike, Migori County is mourning the death of their 19-year-old son who drowned in Lake Victoria hours before he sat the KCSE exams.
Tyson Sunga, a candidate at St Paul's Odendo Secondary, is said to have gone to wash his clothes at Sori Beach when the tragedy occurred.
Nyatike Sub-County Police Commander Stella Too told the Nation that the student left home on Sunday afternoon to the lake, only for his body to be later found floating on the waters by a fisherman.
Reporting by Elizabeth Ojina, Macharia Mwangi, George Sayagie, Waikwa Maina, Samuel Baya, John Njoroge, Steve Njuguna, Ndung'u Gachane, Alex Njeru, Reginah Kinogu, George Munene, Mishi Gongo, Kalume Kazungu, Winnie Atieno, Shaban Makokha, Ian Bryon, Flora Koech and Titus Ominde.