The Ministry of Education has threatened to withdraw the certificates of children whose parents support them to cheat by buying them fake KCPE and KCSE papers.
Education PS Belio Kipsang told a stakeholders’ forum in Nairobi yesterday that parents are the problem since they are the ones who part with as much as Sh90,000 to buy fake examination papers for their children.
“As a government, we will recall all the assets in their possession to make them realise how important these certificates are,” he said.
“No one will be allowed to have phones in the exam rooms including myself when I visit the exam centres,” he added.
Education CS Amina Mohammed said the ministry has identified cartels behind the sale of fake examination papers to unsuspecting parents and candidates and promised to engage the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions, Attorney General, and Interior Ministry to deal with the culprits.
She assured parents and students of the safety of the examination materials, noting that at least 224 police officers will escort the papers from the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) head office to county storage facilities.
Announcing a raft of measures to guarantee the credibility of exams, the CS said anyone found in breach of exam regulations will be apprehended on the spot and charged.
She handed padlocks and keys of 459 examination storage centres to deputy county commissioners and sub-county directors of education yesterday and promised secure and credible examinations.
“We assure all stakeholders that the dispatch process will be free and secure from interference. The examination papers will be escorted by armed security from collection points till the return of the scripts to KNEC containers and back,” Amina said.
“I wish to assure the country that the 2018 KCPE and KCSE exams has not and will not be leaked. I have supervised the entire process culminating in material delivery, storage and supervised dispatch to the last point of use,” Amina said.
To seal loopholes that could be exploited by cheaters, the CS ordered that all examination storage facilities will remain closed until 5.30am.
In addition, no centre will be allowed to start distributing examination materials before the stipulated starting time.
“The storage centres will have a double locking system. The sub-county directors of education and the deputy county commissioners will each have the key to jointly open and close the containers every day during the examination period,” Amina said.
The sub-county directors of education and the deputy county commissioners will ensure that the dispatch process to the schools and back to KNEC is secure.
“As a result of the ministry’s countrywide visit we have re-evaluated the country’s potential exam irregularity hotspots and these regions will receive high dependency surveillance during the exams, working with the ministries of Interior and ICT,” she noted.
The ministry has so far placed 30 examination centres under high dependency surveillance and 192 under amplified surveillance based on reported examination malpractice trends from 2015-17.
To ensure the integrity of results, all question papers and answer sheets will not leave the examination room until all the papers will have been turned in.
Answer sheets for the morning paper will remain in the exam room even as the afternoon paper is underway. According to the CS, this will help check against previous cases where answer sheets from morning papers were unsealed and interfered with.
“Centre managers found unsealing afternoon papers either by mistake or deliberately will be held accountable for exam irregularity. Also, caution must be taken in handling examination materials because a lot of resources have been committed to this process,” she added.
A multi-sectoral team will also be in place before the commencement of exams to help process and report cases of irregularities in real time and propose disciplinary action.
Amina warned parents against visiting boarding schools until the end of the term. She said candidates found in possession of mobile phones in exam centres will be suspended from school and barred from sitting the examination.
Only centre managers will be allowed to have phones but even so, not in the exam rooms, she reiterated.
In addition, only teachers registered with TSC will be involved in the process of administering exams.
The ministry will rely on daily weather advisories to help guide the day to day preparations to guarantee effective facilitation of the various players to administer the examinations efficiently.
Schools affected by the recent tribal clashes and demolitions have been identified and alternative arrangements made to ensure that every candidate is accorded a fair chance to sit for the final examinations.
She said all schools, parents, teachers and students found attempting to compromise the administration and management of examinations will be arrested, de-registered and prosecuted.
Amina said she will ensure the legacy left by Interior CS Matiangi is intact and all loopholes have been sealed.
Matiang’i said security officers, especially the field teams, will not be allowed to go on leave between October 29 and November 29 when the examinations will be taking place.
“We have a noble task to help our children move to the next level. Leave is hereby suspended until November 30. My diary has been cleared from 29 October to 29 November. I will be at the containers with you. I have never had a problem waking up at three in the morning,” Matiang’i said.
He said security teams in areas affected by tribal clashes such as Bomet, Narok and Nakuru have been briefed on the affected schools.
He said security has been bolstered in trouble-prone areas like Marsabit to ensure exams are not interfered with.
ICT PS Jerome Ochieng said the ministry will deploy more than 300 technical staff to support various aspects of the exam system and ruled out the possibility of ‘massaging grades to suit a certain environment’.
The KCPE examination will be administered between October 29 and November 1, while KCSE will run from November 5 to November 30. An estimated 1,000,759 KCPE and 664,586 KCSE candidates are expected to write this year’s exams.