Knut secretary-general Wilson Sossion said this was an irregular change of policy. He urged the MPs to question both Knec and the Education ministry about it.
The union based its assertions on a study of the examinations administration, marking and grading that had the confidential input of examiners, who are usually teachers.
The marking of last year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations were deliberately made for those who sat them to fail, teachers’ unions claimed on Thursday.
Top officials of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) told the parliamentary committee on education that the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) used “raw” marks to assign grades instead of the previous system in which grades were based on performance.
“We can tell you, scientifically, that these fellows colluded to fail students. We are telling you, the education system is on fire. It’s rotting. We are not naming names but we’re telling you to come and help,” said Mr Sossion.
Mr Sossion said that like in the past, when marking schemes were prepared after consultations between the chief examiner, the assistant and team leaders, examiners were not allowed to consult.
In some subjects, a pre-determined highest mark was set, the union said it had found out from its study. He cited cases where questions were repeated from past papers but the marks assigned arbitrarily allocated.
The unions’ main grouse is with what they called “the opaque manner” in which the examination was handled.
Their issues included the decision by the authorities to take away all the question papers to the manner in which the results were announced by the ministry.
Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i announced them at Shimo la Tewa Secondary School in Mombasa in December, last year.
The officials said that while the measures taken to stem cheating had worked, and deserved to be applauded, the marking and awarding of grades was done in an unusual manner.
This resulted in an unusually high number of students scoring D, D- and E.
There were 88,000 students with C+ and above, less than the places available at public universities.
“It makes no sense that 85 per cent of students stand no decent chance of joining the university,” Mr Sossion said.
There was no normalising of grades, no standardisation and moderation and the same grading system was used for the humanities and sciences.
The unions asked the committee to have the exam results recalled for moderation and to audit the handling as well as their marking and processing.
Present were Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers officials.
Matayos MP Geoffrey Odanga said: “I have been a marker myself and at no point have we ever skipped these steps you have outlined. If it is true what you have here, our children did not get the marks they deserved.”
Former Higher Education minister and Mogotio MP, Prof Hellen Sambili said she was shocked that so many students failed.
“The results, from the little maths I did in Form Five and Six, are not proper. This was not the normal curve we have in statistics,” she added.