The Standard Eight examination was on Thursday concluded with no case of cheating recorded – a remarkable break from previous years in which the exam has been marred by massive irregularities.
The more than 900,000 candidates sat the Social Studies and Religious Education paper, concluding the three-day examinations done under tough guidelines issued mid this year to curb cheating.
“I am so happy with the way things have gone ,” said Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i in Mombasa.
Apart from isolated cases of delays in delivering papers to examination centres, especially due to the rains, a mix-up of the papers, the arrest of a Kenyan National Examination Council official suspected of trying to leak the papers and the tearing down of complete answer sheets by an intruder, the examination was generally conducted diligently.
Dr Matiang’i said he was satisfied with the way the examination was conducted and pledged to ensure the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education, which will officially begin on Tuesday, is conducted with the same precision.
He supported a ban on free meals to pupils during the examination period issued by Coast regional coordinator Nelson Marwa, saying those who wanted to give the candidates extra support should do it within the established structures.
Mr Marwa on Monday stopped the Sharrif Nassir Foundation and the Mombasa County Government from distributing free meals to candidates in the region, saying it could raise concerns about the security of the examinations.
“Mr Marwa is actually right. I would like everybody to understand that we must be an orderly society. The anarchy and madness which some people want to bring to the education sector is precisely the same reason why we have had challenges in the past,” said Dr Matiang’i.
He said his ministry was not denying anybody the opportunity to support the students but was only insisting on order and security.
“Let those who want to contribute food to go to deputy county commissioners and sub county directors of education and inform them of their intentions to feed students in the county,” he said.
In Isiolo County, there was a mix-up in social studies and Religious Education examination, where papers meant for one examination centre were discovered 120 kilometres away in Kericho. Merti deputy county commissioner Julius Maiyo said however that the papers were retrieved and delivered to the right school by 8.25am.
In Nandi, a standard eight candidate gave birth while sitting for her last paper.
The 16-year-old candidate at Kaiboi primary school was rushed to hospital where she gave birth without any complications and was allowed to continue with the Social Studies and Christian Religious Education paper.
In Elgeyo-Marakwet County, two pupils, a head teacher and examination officials were questioned after they were suspected of having tampered with the Kiswahili and Science answer sheets.
Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang warned in Iten Primary School that police were investigating the incident that occurred at Kaplenge Primary School in Marakwet West Sub-County.
“Investigations are still going on and already two pupils and their head teacher together with examination officials have recorded statements with the police, “he said the PS.
On Wednesday afternoon, an unidentified intruder sneaked into a classroom in the school and tore the KCPE answer sheets when the supervisor together with the invigilators and security officer were out for lunch.
“Anyone found to have violated the law in the administration of the examinations will be dealt with and whoever will be responsible will face the full force of the law, said Dr Kipsang.
He assured the 27 candidates in the affected school that the incident would not affect their results.
This year’s examination was the most guarded, with the government putting in place all measures to protect its credibility following last year’s massive examination irregularities that saw the results of about 2,709 KCPE candidates and 5,100 KCSE candidates cancelled.
Headteachers were involved by collecting test materials and returning candidates’ answer scripts to sub-county stores.
Previously, the work was done by supervisors. The changes were introduced after it emerged that some school heads had a hand in examination malpractices.
The materials were also stored in 346 heavily guarded containers across the country, unlike in the past when they used to be stored in police armouries.
The use of clipboards and geometrical sets was also banned in the exam rooms.
Reporting by Ouma Wanzala, Tom Matoke, Philemon Suter, Winnie Atieno, Farouk Mwabege,