Nothing left to chance as CSs come out to monitor KCPE exam
By Irene Githinji, Harrison Kivisu, Roy Lumbe, Kirera Mwiti and KNA
A number of government functions were yesterday put on hold as several Cabinet Secretaries and other senior State officials joined Education minister George Magoha to supervise this year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam.
The government appeared to have spared no effort as it rolled out elaborate measures to guard the credibility of the national examination.
There were no major incidents reported apart from four candidates sitting the exam from maternity wards and others being evacuated from areas hit by flooding.
Unlike last year, there was a reduced number of cases for candidates going into labour, with this year’s cases being reported in Narok, Bomet and Nakuru where candidates delivered hours to the first exam. (See separate story).
To demonstrate the seriousness with which the government was taking the exam, a scheduled Cabinet sub-committee meeting was postponed to allow CSs time to oversee the exercise that was conducted under tight security.
From helicopters ferrying exam papers to areas affected by floods to hundreds of vehicles transporting supervisors, the government unleashed all equipment and resources at its disposal to ensure the first day of the exam went on smoothly.
“We are keenly monitoring some cheating hot-spots and centres of exam irregularities; these are areas suspected to harbour individuals who collude with exam cartels. We want to warn that we will not tolerate any form of cheating in this exam,” Magoha warned.
“We are aware of backroom plans by teachers in certain hot-spots, but so far we have not picked any fake examination paper,” the CS said.
“These exams have been seen for the first time this morning, as I had promised the nation earlier. Its fidelity is unquestionable.”
The minister warned teachers, examiners, parents and candidates in Migori, Homa Bay, Kisii, Mandera and Garissa over attempts to steal the exam. The five counties have been implicated in exam irregularities in the past.
Magoha warned exam centre managers against denying candidates the right to sit the examination under the guise of unpaid levies, saying any issues should be sorted later on.
“I want to warn centre managers, who may attempt to block children from taking examinations, for whatever reasons: You cannot stop a child from sitting for an examination because they failed to pay Sh300,” said Prof. Magoha.
By 5.30 am yesterday, a number of Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and Chief Administrative Secretaries had arrived at various stations to supervise dispatch of exam papers.
Magoha monitored the dispatch in Mombasa, Dr. Fred Matiang’i (Interior) was in Nakuru, Najib Balala (Tourism) in Nairobi, Dr. Monica Juma (Foreign Affairs) oversaw dispatch in Kitui, James Macharia (Transport) was in Murang’a, Prof. Margaret Kobia (Public Service) in Meru, while Joe Mucheru (ICT) supervised the exercise in Nyeri.
Education Principal Secretary Dr. Belio Kipsang oversaw the dispatch in Kisumu, Prof. Colleta Suda (University Education and Research) was in Migori, Dr. Kevit Desai (TVET) in Kakamega, and Post Training and Skills Development PS Alfred Cheruiyot was in Meru.
Teachers Service Commission chief executive Dr. Nancy Macharia was in Nakuru, Kenya National Examination Council chairman Dr. John Onsati was in Uasin Gishu while Basic Education Director General Elyas Abdi was in Garissa.
Matiang’i assured residents of Maasai Mau in Narok of tight security during the examination period amid tension over impending evictions from Mau forest.
Speaking in Gilgil, Matiang’i said security agencies had been in constant consultation over security and education in the area.
The minister said a second contingent of police officers will be deployed to the area, to ensure a peaceful environment.
“We had a few concerns about the situation in Mau, however, everything is under control... the County Commissioner and other officials are on the ground to ensure nothing goes wrong,” Matiang’i said.
He warned officers mandated with exam supervision against compromising its credibility and urged them to report any emerging issues.
“Anyone who tries to breach any aspect of the exam should be apprehended and processed in accordance with the law to ensure the interests of pupils are well taken care of,” the CS said.
Transport CS Macharia, who spoke in Kigumo, Murang’a, said the national exam was a serious exercise that required close supervision, hence the Cabinet Implementation Committee, which sits on Tuesdays, had to be postponed.
Apart from ensuring the examination runs smoothly, Macharia said the leaders’ presence was also meant to motivate the candidates.
“This is a serious exercise and as a show of government’s commitment, we cancelled a Cabinet meeting to monitor the exam around the country. We are moulding future leaders and that is why we are taking the whole process with the seriousness it deserves,” Macharia said.
In Meru, Prof Kobia reiterated the government’s commitment to deliver credible exams by sealing any loopholes for cheating.
“We want to ensure our examinations remain globally competitive so that no one can doubt credentials of any child who sits an exam in Kenya and goes to another country. That is why, all of us, right from the President, have said we will leave our offices to give you support,” she said.