HIGH STAKES AS STATE FIGHTS PEREN­NIAL CHEAT­ING IN EX­AMS

Af­ter a record 5,101 cases of cheat­ing in last year’s KCSE ex­ams and half the num­ber in KCPE ex­ams, Ed­u­ca­tion CS Fred Ma­tiang’i is per­son­ally spear­head­ing ef­forts to tame the vice fu­elled by a craze for good grades

The Star (Kenya) - - Big Read/Education - HENRY WANYAMA @hwanyama1

CAN­DI­DATES’ USE OF CLIP­BOARDS AND GE­O­MET­RI­CAL SETS HAS BEEN BANNED, WHILE EV­ERY EXAM ROOM HAS A MAX­I­MUM 20 CAN­DI­DATES PO­SI­TIONED 1.22M APART.

The re­lease of the 2016 KCPE re­sults at the end of De­cem­ber and KCSE re­sults in Fe­bru­ary next year will be a lit­mus test on the govern­ment’s ef­forts to fight cheat­ing in na­tional ex­ams. Su­per­vi­sion of ex­ams by se­nior min­istry of­fi­cials and ap­point­ment of head­teach­ers as sole ex­am­i­na­tion cen­tre man­agers are among the mea­sures whose suc­cess is at stake.

The craze by can­di­dates, par­ents and teach­ers for good grades that en­gen­ders cheat­ing is now up against the govern­ment’s bid to en­sure cred­i­bil­ity and in­tegrity of the ex­ams. The Ed­u­ca­tion min­istry is work­ing along­side the ICT and In­te­rior min­istries for round-the-clock mon­i­tor­ing of exam pa­pers.

So high are the stakes that CS Fred Ma­tiang’i has un­der­taken to per­son­ally su­per­vise the ex­ams, as wit­nessed at the start of the 2016 KCPE ex­ams. He pitched tent in Vi­higa county, as se­nior Ed­u­ca­tion min­istry di­rec­tors su­per­vised the exam in other re­gions. The Kenya Na­tional Ex­am­i­na­tion Coun­cil mem­bers are also su­per­vis­ing the exam.

“The govern­ment wants to be sure that the new sys­tem put in place works,” Ma­tiang’i said.

Ap­point­ment let­ters from the Kenya Na­tional Ex­am­i­na­tion Coun­cil noted that, “Head­teach­ers are di­rectly ac­count­able, re­spon­si­ble and an­swer­able for any ex­am­i­na­tion mal­prac­tices that will take place in their in­sti­tu­tions.”

In May, the CS promised to set aside all his min­is­te­rial du­ties to su­per­vise na­tional ex­ams. “I will be at the exam cen­tres my­self, work­ing with the su­per­vi­sors. Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­taries, min­istry di­rec­tors and I will work to­gether to en­sure we de­liver cred­i­ble re­sults this time. All of us will be on duty,” Ma­tiang’i said.

Knec act­ing CEO Mercy Karogo has said: “We do not ex­pect can­di­dates to en­gage in steal­ing of ex­am­i­na­tions. Par­ents and ev­ery­body should al­low the can­di­dates to score their right­ful grades.”

She said head­teach­ers, county and sub­county di­rec­tors of ed­u­ca­tion are jointly ac­count­able for all ex­am­i­na­tion ma­te­ri­als at the 26,308 KCPE and 9,158 KCSE ex­am­i­na­tion cen­tres in sub­coun­ties. School heads are sup­posed to work closely with care­fully se­lected su­per­vi­sors, who tra­di­tion­ally were in charge of the ex­am­i­na­tion cen­tres.

Teach­ers’ union Knut op­posed the move to have head­teach­ers col­lect and re­turn ex­am­i­na­tion pa­pers from the dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tres on a daily ba­sis. Knut sec­re­tary gen­eral Wil­son Sos­sion said this is the job of Knec-con­tracted su­per­vi­sors.

In the past, exam dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tres have dom­i­nantly been iden­ti­fied as the ori­gin of ex­ams leak­ages, thus the fo­cus on them seeks to stop the leak­ages. Po­lice manned the cen­tres in the past.

TOUGH NEW RULES

In the new mea­sures, the Na­tional Trea­sury di­rectly bought 346 metal con­tain­ers at Sh120,000 each. They are staged in all sub­coun­ties to store the exam pa­pers and also act as the new dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tres.

The con­tain­ers are un­der 24-hour po­lice guard to stop leak­ages, and were si­mul­ta­ne­ously opened at 5am in all sub-county ed­u­ca­tion of­fices. The metal con­tain­ers have three keys held by the sub­county com­mis­sioner and county di­rec­tors of ed­u­ca­tion to limit con­tact from the po­lice and other per­sons, as hap­pened in the past.

Un­like in the past, where stan­dard eight and form four ex­ams were set two years ear­lier, the 2016 ex­am­i­na­tions were re­set. Can­di­dates’ use of clip­boards and ge­o­met­ri­cal sets has been banned in the test rooms, while ev­ery exam room has a max­i­mum 20 can­di­dates po­si­tioned 1.22m apart.

Can­di­dates, head teach­ers, su­per­vi­sors, in­vig­i­la­tors and po­lice of­fi­cers are not al­lowed to en­ter ex­am­i­na­tion rooms with mo­bile phones or any elec­tronic de­vices.

Af­ter the start of an ex­am­i­na­tion, no can­di­date is al­lowed to go to the toi­let, un­less ac­com­pa­nied by an armed po­lice of­fi­cer. Teach­ers and pupils with­out roles have kept off schools from Oc­to­ber 28, as Novem­ber was de­clared an exclusive ex­am­i­na­tion month.

Some 952,472 KCPE can­di­dates sat for the ex­ams from Novem­ber 1-3, while 577,079 KCSE can­di­dates face the test from Novem­ber 7-30.

Knec’s top hi­er­ar­chy of 11 were dis­missed early this year af­ter some of them were linked to previous cheat­ing in­ci­dents.

Vet­ting of the more than 400 staff at Knec is on­go­ing. Knec chair­man Prof Ge­orge Magoha has noted that more changes will be ef­fected at the coun­cil to en­sure that only cred­i­ble peo­ple hold po­si­tions there.

Even the ban on rank­ing of schools and can­di­dates in 2013 was aimed at stop­ping cheat­ing.

Knec has also im­ple­mented new rules for mark­ing to mon­i­tor the con­duct of ex­am­in­ers. These in­clude a ban on the use of elec­tronic gad­gets in­side mark­ing cen­tres and move­ment within mark­ing cen­tres.

Cur­rently, Knec is en­cour­ag­ing the pub­lic to send in any feed­back con­cern­ing the con­duct of the ex­am­i­na­tions via tele­phone num­ber: 0800724900.

CHEAT­ING CUL­PRITS

Former Ed­u­ca­tion CS Ja­cob Kaimenyi blamed de­cay­ing morals in so­ci­ety for the re­cur­rence of cheat­ing. “Par­ents and teach­ers, who should be role mod­els for chil­dren, are some­times at the fore­front of per­pet­u­at­ing and abet­ting ex­am­i­na­tion ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties,” he said.

Col­lu­sion among can­di­dates has been de­tected as the main method of cheat­ing. This in­volves col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween par­ties who are known to each other.

“Poor su­per­vi­sion and in­vig­i­la­tion dur­ing ex­am­i­na­tions is the main cause of col­lu­sion,” Kaimenyi added.

Col­lu­sion in ex­ams per­sists de­spite the ex­is­tence of a five-year jail term or a max­i­mum fine of Sh1 mil­lion or both as penalty.

Ev­ery year, Ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ters di-

‘PAR­ENTS AND TEACH­ERS, WHO SHOULD BE ROLE MOD­ELS FOR CHIL­DREN, ARE SOME­TIMES AT THE FORE­FRONT OF PER­PET­U­AT­ING AND ABET­TING EX­AM­I­NA­TION IR­REG­U­LAR­I­TIES’

rect the Qual­ity As­sur­ance and Stan­dards direc­torate to in­ter­vene, but the rot per­sists.

In De­cem­ber last year, Ma­tiang’i di­rected that all data on KCPE and KCSE ex­am­i­na­tion re­sults over the last three years be made pub­lic, so that re­gions can have can­did con­ver­sa­tions and re­view the trends in their per­for­mance.

He asked all play­ers in the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor, in­clud­ing teach­ers’ unions, to be hon­est with them­selves when talk­ing about the prob­lem.

CUR­RENT CHEAT­ING RE­PORTS

Even be­fore the ex­am­i­na­tions started, Knec chair­man Ge­orge Magoha was forced to de­clare as fake an English exam pa­per that was on sale to a pupil of Rongo Pri­mary School.

“We wish to no­tify the pub­lic that some of these pa­pers have been sent to the coun­cil, which has scru­ti­nised them and found that all of them are fake,” Magoha said.

On the first day of KCPE ex­ams in Mom­basa, Knec of­fi­cial Om­bega Ndemo was caught leak­ing the con­tent of the English lan­guage pa­per and com­po­si­tion at Mary Joy School Academy in Nyali sub­county. Ndemo was re­leased on Sh200,000 bond.

In Nyamira county, 11 teach­ers, among them the St Andrews Kag­gwa Boys head­teacher, a su­per­vi­sor and a KCPE can­di­date, were ar­rested on Novem­ber 3.

They were to be charged in a Keroka court on Fri­day over exam cheat­ing. The can­di­date was found with writ­ten ma­te­rial in an exam room on Oc­to­ber 31.

PAST CHEAT­ING TRENDS

Last year’s KCPE was plagued by 2,709 cases of cheat­ing, while the KCSE wit­nessed a record 5,101 cases. Some 171 in­di­vid­u­als were ar­rested and charged in courts for com­mit­ting var­i­ous of­fences.

The ar­rested in­cluded 11 school prin­ci­pals and deputy school prin­ci­pals, 34 teach­ers from pub­lic sec­ondary schools, 22 univer­sity and col­lege stu­dents, 104 KCSE ex­am­i­na­tion can­di­dates, two po­lice of­fi­cers and one TSC sec­re­tariat em­ployee.

In the 2014 KCPE exam, 1,702 were caught. Bu­sia county had the high­est cases of cheat­ing at 261, while Mandera and Vi­higa had one each. In the KCSE exam, 2,975 can­di­dates were in­volved in cheat­ing.

Some 157 peo­ple were ar­rested and charged for var­i­ous of­fences, in­clud­ing head teach­ers and deputy head teach­ers, teach­ers, univer­sity stu­dents, can­di­dates, po­lice of­fi­cers and par­ents.

In KCPE 2013, 1,576 can­di­dates were in­volved in cheat­ing. In the KCSE ex­ams, 3,353 can­di­dates cheated. Meru county had the high­est num­ber of cheat­ing cases, with 471 stu­dents hav­ing their exam re­sults can­celled.

In the 2012 KCPE, 718 can­di­dates cheated, as com­pared to a record 7,967 cases in 2011. In the KCSE ex­ams, 1,700 KCSE can­di­dates cheated.

/ FILE

Can­di­dates get screened be­fore the start of KCPE ex­ams at Khadi­jah Pri­mary School, Mom­basa.

/ FILE

Ed­u­ca­tion CS Sam On­geri shows in­scrip­tions on a san­dal that a stu­dent used to cheat in the 2011 KCPE ex­ams.

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