Main­tain vig­i­lance to stop exam cheats

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - OPINION -

Strin­gent mea­sures in­tro­duced last year to curb ex­am­i­na­tion cheat­ing have borne fruit. For the first time in a long while, Stan­dard Eight and Form Four ex­ams were largely cred­i­ble. Even so, ques­tions emerged about the mark­ing and award­ing of marks in the Kenya Cer­tifi­cate of Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion (KCSE) exam, where sub­jects such as English did not reg­is­ter grade A and an equally over­all high num­ber of fail­ures.

The over­rar­ch­ing prin­ci­ple was that the ex­ams were ad­min­is­tered in a man­ner that was trans­par­ent and can­di­dates got their right­ful grades. As we com­mended Ed­u­ca­tion Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Fred Ma­tiang’i for the sin­gu­lar feat of restor­ing in­tegrity to na­tional ex­am­i­na­tions, we cau­tioned that the chal­lenge would be sus­tain­ing the mo­men­tum. Sooner rather than later, lords of exam cheat­ing who had been ex­tin­guished mo­men­tar­ily would res­ur­rect with a vengeance to ex­e­cute their ne­far­i­ous deals.

As it comes to pass, a num­ber of cases of at­tempted exam cheat­ing have been re­ported in this year’s KCSE exam, now in its sec­ond week, il­lus­trat­ing the mer­chants of fraud are alive and kicking. For­tu­nately, those at­tempts by some teach­ers, stu­dents, in­vig­i­la­tors and school managers have been thwarted and the cul­prits seized, with some al­ready taken to court to face the law. We have not seen the last of the dare­dev­ils; they are schem­ing and plot­ting to hit and get their way. Whereas the reg­u­la­tions have helped to rein in the cheats, we are not out of the woods yet. The Ed­u­ca­tion min­istry and the Kenya Na­tional Ex­am­i­na­tions Coun­cil (Knec) must come up with in­sti­tu­tion­alised and long-last­ing so­lu­tions.

As cur­rently ex­e­cuted, the poli­cies and ac­tions are driven by in­di­vid­u­als com­mit­ted to a cause. But such are tran­sient; they may not sur­vive the test of time. Part of the an­swer in the long-term is to de-em­pha­sise ex­ams by chang­ing the whole phi­los­o­phy of ed­u­ca­tion to fo­cus on skills ac­qui­si­tion and ap­pli­ca­tion of knowl­edge in­stead of sheer cram­ming and re­gur­gi­tat­ing facts. For now, the im­per­a­tive is for con­stant vig­i­lance to fore­stall exam fraud, while met­ing out harsh penal­ties to cul­prits.

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