Magoha allays Exam cheating fears as KCSE began today

Today, more than 830,000 Form Four candidates started writing their KCSE (Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education) exams. Education Stakeholders insist that integrity must be upheld for fairness. There have been concerns that some candidates are exposed to the exams before they are done.

Candidates started with English Paper One and Chemistry Paper One and shall take Mathematics Paper One and English Comprehension tomorrow. 

Written exams will run from March 14 to April 1. The time for opening Exam containers changed to 6.30am instead of 6am to limit chances of early exposure to test papers.

The Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) says 831,015 candidates registered for the 2021 KCSE examination in 10,413 centres, an increase compared to 752,981 candidates who registered in 10,437 the previous year. 

Education CS George Magoha has said that all cheating loopholes have been sealed. He cautioned some KNEC officials accused of colluding with school principals to cheat in the exam.

Magoha said unscrupulous officials are asking for students’ personal data from principals allegedly to boost their grades after marking.

“I’m instructing principals who are still eager to give index numbers of their students in the hope of getting fake exam results to stop wasting time.

“If you have a lot of money to waste, take it to the church. We have personal details of the officials involved and we are going to take firm action,” Prof Magoha said.

Some principals say the playing field is unfair when some students are assisted to pass exams.

A principal who sought anonymity said: “The new scheme to alter exam results at such high-level is a big threat to exam integrity. It is unfortunate that cheating in national examinations has now moved to the agency mandated to safeguard exam integrity.”

The school head urged the ministry to counter-check the raw results as marked in the papers with the results posted on the KNEC system.

“Some schools have the results even before the marking is done. The rule of posting results in a common KNEC server before they are released is subject to manipulation. 

“Schools are paying a lot of money to have the exams manipulated to their favour,” said the principal.

Should there be a suspected case of result manipulation, the administrator urged for comparisons of previous performance records for the schools involved.

The principal cited boarding schools as beneficiaries of such arrangements where they get papers prior to the exam period and have the candidates revise at night. 

“We don’t know who is setting these tests and whether it is done locally or outside the country. The leaked papers do not necessarily have the Knec logo.”

Speaking during the administration of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination last week, Knec chief executive David Njengere said the council has put measures in place to prevent cheating.

 “We have ensured candidates writing the examination in special circumstances such as those in hospitals and prisons get the test papers wherever they are,” said Njengere.

Other guidelines set by the examination council to curb cheating include barring candidates from leaving the examination room before the end of the paper, except with special permission from invigilators.

Outsiders are not be allowed into the centre during the tests and communication in the examination room is also prohibited. 

The KNEC boss said this year there will be more challenges due to election campaigns and insecurity.

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