Exams will go on as scheduled, President Uhuru assures

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020 00:00 |
Favored  Kibunja, a Grade Four pupil at Eagle Apex Hill School in Subukia, Nakuru county does an assignment sent by his teacher via phone. The digital learning is meant to lessen the effects of closure of schools. Photo/PD/Raphael Munge

Irene Githinji @gitshee

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday allayed fears about postponement of this year’s national examinations — the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) —  saying they will be administered as scheduled.

The assurance, though a big relief for learners and parents, who had expressed concern the exams could be delayed due to closure of schools to tame the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, will beg the question on preparation of the candidates and completion of the syllabus. 

The President ordered closure of schools on March 16, three weeks ahead of schedule, as the government rolled out measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Speaking during a live radio interview at State House, Nairobi, yesterday, the President said the Education ministry was working on modalities to ensure the national exams are undertaken and will communicate a comprehensive schedule in due course.

“The biggest responsibility we have right now is to ensure that candidates will sit the exams and we are exploring a framework to make sure this happens.

The Ministry of Education is exploring modalities which should be put in place especially after the pandemic is addressed,” he said.

 “As at now exams must proceed as planned but we must know how to catch up on lost time, when and how they will be done when the right time comes we will elaborate in more details and ensure all goes as planned,” he added.

About two million students are expected to sit KCPE and KCSE exams at the end of the year.

The Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) timetable indicates that KCPE is scheduled between October 27 and 29 while KCSE is to start on November 2 and end on November 25.

The council has been holding meetings with other stakeholders in the education sector on the exam matter.

Teacher unions, however, have been raising questions on the viability of e-learning and radio programmes that are supposed to ensure  learning is not interrupted by the closure of schools.

They say the digital programmes disadvantage most children, especially in rural areas with neither electricity nor internet connections.

Normally, schools would have re-opened for second term early May.

Education programmes

But yesterday, Uhuru assured that the government will soon issue guidelines on systematic re-opening of schools.

“Very soon we will issue a schedule on how children will slowly start going back to schools, especially for candidates and modalities put in place by the ministry because we are most concerned about the candidates, how they will do the exams and cover for the lost time,” he said.

The President also commended radio and TV stations which have been airing education programmes for learners.

His remarks come against the backdrop of growing panic and confusion over status of education, given the uncertainty over how long it will take for coronavirus disease to be contained, as numbers of those infected keep rising.

The government has constantly assured that the situation is being keenly monitored to ensure children are safe at home until the disease is dealt with.

Similarly, a majority of learners are sceptical about sitting their exams after spending time away from their teachers and subsequently covering the syllabus.

However, Magoha has stated that there is still no cause for alarm because the government is working to ensure all emerging issues are addressed.

He said a committee of six Cabinet Secretaries will meet this week to deliberate on the effect of the coronavirus disease in the various sectors of the society.

“Up to this moment, nobody has thought of postponing the national examinations and to the best of government’s ability, children are getting online learning.

The ministry is working on the various scenarios and not all of them involve the dooms day situation,” said the CS.

Magoha said he will not be guided by the fear mongers to the extent of the preparedness of Competence Based Curriculum.

He said the ministry has slowed down on preparing materials for Grade 5, which is scheduled to be rolled out next year.

“We have slowed down on preparing materials that will be used for Grade 5 next year but in some of those scenarios we have given options, which still means we shall still launch it next year,” he assured.

“I would like to request the public to listen to one voice. I also want to tell parents they should not be told by anyone to congregate their children to learn together.

They must remain in their homes where they are safe, stay home and teach them.”

Resume normalcy

Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) secretary general, Wilson Sossion has indicated that e-learning cannot work saying major focus at the moment should be to control the virus.

He also said it is too early to even think about postponing the national exams.

“Once the virus is controlled, we can resume normalcy then we will be able to plan effectively for how to resume proper learning in schools or whether to recall examination classes first,” he said.

Educationist Amos Kaburu said there was no cause for alarm, noting that there is still time to get things done as expected.

Optimistic that the coronavirus curve will soon be flattened, Kaburu cited a situation whereby teachers’ strikes have gone on for months on ends in the past but still the education sector has still been on course.

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