Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination kicked off smoothly yesterday, with 1,003,556 candidates registered at 28,566 centres across the country.
It emerged that this year’s exam results could be released earlier, according to Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) chair Prof George Magoha, following the purchase of 20 Optical Mark Recognition (OPR) machines which will make exam marking fast and more efficient.
The machines cost the government Sh100 million. This year’s exam has recorded the highest number of candidates, whose details, including photographs, are appearing on the answer sheet for the first time. The details are part of new requirements introduced by the Education ministry this year.
Unlike the previous years when candidates would write their names, index numbers and examination centres, this year candidates are getting answer sheets bearing their names and index numbers. The new changes have also affected exam officials—supervisors, invigilators and centre managers—who are prohibited from using cell phones inside the exam rooms. The ministry said the new requirement was aimed at curbing exam malpractices.
A spot check by the People Daily across the country yesterday showed that the exam started at 8.30 am with amid tight security. Candidates wrote their mathematics, English language and composition tests yesterday, with Kiswahili lugha and insha scheduled for today.
As part of security measures and efficient exam management, the ministry had ordered head teachers not to allow outsiders into examination centres, save for security officers, headteachers and their deputies. Speaking in Makueni where he witnessed the opening of containers with exam material, Education Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i assured Kenyans the exams will be administered successfully despite mounting political tension occasioned by last week’s fresh presidential election.
The CS, who also monitored the administration exam in several schools, said the ministry had made adequate preparations to ensure candidates’ security and curb malpractices.
“We have made more changes in the manner in which we are delivering the exam this year and we will see even more changes when it comes to processing the results because we are interested in greater accuracy and credibility in the way we assess our children,” said Matiang’i.
He urged Kenyans to provide KCPE and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exam candidates with conducive environment to boost their morale. Meanwhile, Prof Magoha said the new OPR machines will reduce the markers’ workload by almost 50 per cent, which will see the results released at least one week earlier than scheduled.
Addressing journalists at Egesieri and Nyamira primary schools in Nyamira county where he monitored the exam progress, Prof Magoha said this year’s results could be released by December 8.
Elsewhere in Tana River and Lamu counties, there was increased deployment of security officers near exam centres as the areas had been mapped out as insecurity hotspots. And in Nyanza region, which has recently witnessed election-related protests,the exam started smoothly.
In Migori and Homa Bay counties, movements near learning institutions were minimal. In Kisii, county Education director Dr William Sugut said more girls had registered for the exam, standing at 15,507 against 15,110 boys.
Meanwhile, two pupils from Mbeere, Embu county did not sit the exam over unknown reasons while another two wrote their tests in hospital. County Education director Margaret Mwirigi said of those hospitalised, one was in maternity and was expected to deliver any time while the other was ailing from pneumonia.