New rules announced to curb cheating as national exams begin

Education CS Prof. George Magoha at the start of the 2021 national examination period and the issue of safety padlocks at the Kenya School of Government (KSG) on February 18, 2022. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Schools near the exam containers will be the last to pick their exam papers, the education cabinet secretary said, as the ministry tightens any possible loopholes for exam leaks.

These are some of the new but strict rules the ministry has put in place to curb fraud ahead of the expected start of the Kenyan Primary Education Certificate (KCPE) on Monday 7th March.

Education CS professor George Magoha said the containers will open at 6:30 a.m. instead of 6 a.m. as in previous years to reduce the time officers are in contact with the papers come.

“There is no reason to release the questionnaires to the schools near containers an hour before the exam time. You can wait until it’s about 20 minutes,” the CS said as it commissioned new classrooms in Mombasa.

However, these new rules have raised concerns among education stakeholders, with some arguing that delaying the collection of exam papers may do little to stop exam cheating.

Instead, allegations have been leveled against the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) for bribing school principals and parents to issue improved grades for certain students and schools.

If there was a suspicion of manipulation of results, the educator demanded that the previous performance records of the schools concerned be compared.

“It’s no wonder that some schools already had their schools’ results ‘ready’ before the assessment. The rule of publishing results on a common KNEC server before publication is open to manipulation. Schools pay a lot of money to take the exams manipulated in their favour,” the official said.

He named boarding schools as beneficiaries of such arrangements, under which they are given papers before exam time and have candidates retake tests at night.

“We don’t know who is conducting these tests and whether they are being conducted locally or outside the country. The process can be influenced because the papers could run out. Leaked papers do not necessarily have the KNEC logo,” he argued.

At the time of going to press, KNEC had not responded to the allegations. At the same time, the delayed publication of questionnaires could disrupt schools in distant areas.

“Schools don’t have enough vehicles and you find so many teachers crammed into police Landcruisers,” said one principal.

Anthony Wanyoike, a principal at Kirawa Road School in Kitisuru, claims the time review was not communicated to teachers.

“At the last briefing with ministry officials on Friday, no such review was mentioned, but we will follow ministry guidelines,” Wanyoike said.

The KCPE candidates will complete assignments in Math, English and English Composition today (Monday), followed by tests in Science, Kiswahili and Kiswahili Insha on Tuesday 8th March.

On the last day they write a term paper on the subject of social studies and religious education. Candidates with visual and hearing impairments have additional time for certain tests.

The Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) started next Monday and the main exam will take place from March 14th to April 1st.

According to the Examination Council, a total of 2,056,719 candidates are registered for the KCPE and KCSE.

There will be 28,316 centers for the 2021 KCPE, an increase from 28,467 centers in 2020 and 1,191,752 candidates.

Approximately 831,015 candidates have registered for the KCSE exam at 10,413 centers, compared to 752,981 candidates in 2020 and 10,437 centers.

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