KCSE exam kicks off under tough new rules

Form Four candidates will commence their national examination this morning amid stringent measures put in place by Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) to curb cheating.

In an effort to stamp out cases of irregularities synonymous with past national exams, the exams body spelt out tough guidelines that saw significant drop in overall students’ performance last year.

As students sit their maths and cßhemistry tests today the second class under the new exam monitoring regime, education stakeholders will be keen to observe the performance curve.

A total of 615, 773 candidates have been registered to sit this year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exam to be done in 9,350 centres across the country. Last year, only 141 candidates managed to score a mean grade of A-plain,  a shocking nosedive from 2,636 candidates who attained the grade last year, a drop attributed to culture of cheating.

A mere 88,928 candidates attained C-plus and above in the 2016 examination compared with 169,492 candidates, who managed the grades above in the corresponding year. Additionally, only 4,645 candidates scored grade A–, 10,975 attained B+ while 17,216 scored B.

Following the drop, Education Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i announced all the 88,929 candidates, who scored between A and C+ in last year’s exam, will get slots in public universities.

This year, there were fears and uncertainties that the October 26 fresh presidential election may interfere with the exam timetables for both Form Four and Class Eight national exams.

But attention has again shifted to 2017 KCSE exam and their performance in the existing tough guidelines that will police both administering and marking of the exam. This year, Knec said candidates will have question papers and answer booklets combined into one document for all the subjects.

Only qualified teachers will be allowed to manage the exam. The government has also banned the use of clipboards and geometrical sets from examination rooms.

Instead, candidates will be permitted to carry their geometrical instruments and writing materials in a clear see-through porch or bag. The role of head teachers/principals has also been reviewed. They will now be centre managers in their schools to ensure that they are more accountable in the administration of exam process. All systems of storage and distribution of examination materials have been reviewed and will employ intensive ICT more than ever before.

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