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‘Matiang’i rules’ that curbed cheating in exams

The Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination ended on Wednesday with no cases of leakage being reported, just as the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education.

This was an indication that the tough guidelines introduced by the government this year to curb cheating worked. Runaway cheating had seen results for 5,101 KCSE and 2,000 KCPE candidates cancelled.

Some 577,253 students registered to sit KCSE in 9,158 centres while 952,473 were booked for KCPE in 26,308 centres. KCSE began on November 7 while KCPE was done from November 1 to 3.

Social activities were banned in the third term while the period for KCSE exams was shortened from six weeks to four and headteachers put directly in charge of the tests.

Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i led a team of senior officers in supervising the exams across the country under a multi-sectoral approach following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive to ensure proper administration.

The Kenya National Examinations Council chairman, Prof George Magoha, was appointed the focal point for clarification on the exam management.

The Teachers Service Commission chief executive officer, Ms Nancy Macharia, was appointed the focal point for issues related to employees of the commission, including principals, supervisors and invigilators.

The senior officers created a WhatsApp group for updates as well as raise the alarm whenever there was a problem.

The messages would then be posted on Twitter and Facebook in a communication network headed by Dr Samuel Siringi, a University of Nairobi lecturer and former Nation editor.

Storage of exam materials was shifted from police stations to designated 346 containers guarded round-the-clock in sub-counties with only the deputy county commissioner and sub-county director of education having the keys.

When it was suspected that some officials were collecting materials too early and sharing it, collection times were changed from 5pm to 6am with containers opened in the presence of all headteachers, who would exit the site at the same time.

Discussion on core issues or structures of the exams on social media was banned.

A command and control centre, as well as a call centre, were established for enhanced coordination of all the activities related to examinations administration.

A call centre was also established to receive and filter communication from clients and the public was encouraged to send in any feedback concerning the conduct of the examinations to the centre.

All necessary staff were trained on matters related to physical security, personal security and document security in a bid to ensure that the level of security consciousness relating to examinations has been enhanced.

The storage of examination materials were also transferred from police stations to designated 346 containers that were placed in sub-counties with only sub county commissioner and sub county director of education have the keys to be containers that were manned around the clock.

The reforms at the council started with the sacking of 11 senior officer and sacking of board chairman Prof Kabiru Kinyanjui.
This year’s examination was also reset to avert leakages. Previously, tests were set two years in advance while the use of clipboards and geometrical sets was banned in the exam rooms.

“We are determined to stamp out cases of irregularities associated with the poor management of our national examinations in the past so that the results obtained from are valid and credible,” said Dr Matiang’i.

Last year, it is only Isiolo County that had no candidates being involved in examination malpractices Makueni, Nairobi and Meru counties had the highest cases of irregularities.

Last year a total of 171 persons were arrested and charged in a Court of law for committing various offences related to the 2015 KCSE examination.

Those arrested included 11 school principals and deputy School Principals, 34 teachers from public secondary schools, 5 teachers from public secondary schools, 22 university and college students, 104 KCSE examination candidates, 2 police officers,1 TSC Secretariat employee among others.

However, the exercise to make the examination credible was no rosy for teachers who were contracted by Knec and some questions papers had mistakes due the hurried manner they were done to avoid leakage.

But Prof Magoha said all queries on questions papers will be addressed by the command centre and should be no course of alarm.

Some teachers were interdicted on flimsy grounds and even embarrassed before candidates by government officers despite receiving a merger pay for the exercise.

TEACHERS ARRESTED

“TSC is interdicting teachers, taking them to court, punishing them and threatening them over exam matters. Teachers are asking what is the role of union in these professional and industrial acts? Posed a teacher.

Another teacher said : “We should not celebrate when our fellow teachers are arrested and interdicted due to the exam malpractices some are not their own making but you become culprit simply because you accepted to take part in supervision or invigilation, let’s tackle these issues soberly.”

However, Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Secretary General Wilson Sossion said the union is touch with TSC and affected teachers.

“Disciplinary actions will be done in a professional way and where they will be need for legal representation will offer that support,” said Mr Sossion.

But , he declined to rate the examination exercise saying the position will be taken by the union annual delegates conference which is set to start on Monday in Nairobi.

Early this month, Mr Sossion lauded the Cabinet Secretary for being able to deal with cartels that were previously involved in cheating even though he had opposed the tough guidelines.

On payment for teachers, Mr Sossion the payment was too little.

“Principals, will earn a flat rate of Sh500 per day for 18 days. This translates to Sh 9,000; while Head teachers will be paid for four days at the rate of Sh500 per day. This means each Head teacher will receive Shs2000 at the end of the exam period. Arguably, this is not the kind of allowances that can make an experienced professional lose his or her job in the name of ‘fighting’ exam cheating,” said Mr Sossion.

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