Maintain vigilance to stop exam cheats
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.