Irene Githinji @gitshee
Dare you! This was the government’s terse but stern warning to national examination cheats. And to demonstrate readiness to safeguard the integrity of the national examinations — Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) — the government yesterday said it has deployed at least 70,000 police officers for the exercise that kicks off in two weeks.
According to Education Cabinet secretary Amina Mohamed and her Interior counterpart Fred Matiang’i, the officers will be at hand to deal with any “courageous individual” who might be tempted to perpetuate exams malpractices.
A tough-speaking Matiang’i, a former Education CS, said the government would handle anyone caught cheating in exams with “amazing precision”.
“Our resolve has not changed; our mission still remains the same; our focus is still the same; and our commitment is even stronger, that we will deliver clean exams, that we will continue the legacy of honesty and integrity in the way we manage our education system in the country,” he said.
On her part, Amina, too, warned: “The meticulous planning and the resources the State has devoted for this exercise will count for nothing if any of us drops the call.”
The CSs assured the government has put in place stringent measures to guard against any exams leakage. More than one million candidates will sit this year’s KCPE while 664,586 others will write the KCSE.
As part of the measures to deter cheating, Amina and Matiang’i, who were addressing the press on exams preparedness at the Kenya School of Government in Nairobi yesterday, said the two ministries have engaged the offices of the Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions to devise a “forensic mechanism to decisively deal with the culprits”.
They spoke yesterday when they issued security padlocks and keys for 459 containers to Deputy County Commissioners (DCC) and Sub-County Directors of Education (SCDE).
Matiang’i also announced he has suspended leave for all security personnel for the period running from October 29 to November 29 to ensure security is beefed up and allow exams run smoothly.
He said the security team will accord CS Amina full support in ensuring credible exams are delivered, adding that he will also avail himself to supervise the process.
The Education ministry has vowed not to leave anything to chance and has consequently placed 222 examination centres under “Heightened Surveillance (HS), 30 under “High Dependency Surveillance”(HDS) and another 192 under “Amplified Surveillance”(AS) based on reported examination malpractice trends from 2015 to last year.
Personnel and resources already mobilised for the examinations are only comparable to last year’s General Election that saw the government deploy more than 150, 000 security agents, which was nearly double the 95, 000 used in 2013.
Amina reiterated her ministry’s and Kenya National Examination Council’s (Knec) readiness to administer exams.To further seal quality loopholes that could be exploited by unscrupulous persons and to ensure every candidate is accorded an even playing field, Amina said all examination containers will not be opened until the stipulated time, which is 5.30am.
The containers will have a double locking system. SCDEs and DCCs will each have the keys to secure and ensure they open and close the containers every day during the examination process.
She also said 224 security officers will escort the examination materials from the Knec warehouse to the examination storage facilities in the sub-counties.
Upon arrival at the sub-counties, the examinations will be handed over to the sub-county directors of education and the deputy county commissioners who will ensure the dispatch process to schools and back to Knec is secure and free from any interference.
“All question papers will be escorted by armed security officers everyday of the examination from collection to return of the answer scripts to the container and back to Knec. While at the Examination Centre, the security officers will ensure adequate security is provided to all the candidates and the examination materials,” affirmed the CS.
During the period of the examinations, Amina said all examination papers and answer sheets will not leave the examination room until all the papers have been turned in.
This means that answer sheets for the morning paper will remain in examination room even as the afternoon paper is underway, a situation that will check against previously witnessed cases where answer sheets from the morning paper are unsealed and interfered with.
Centre managers guilty of unsealing the afternoon paper before the stipulated time, whether by mistake or on purpose, will be held liable for this irregularity.
She said the ministry has identified several examination cartels behind the sale of fake papers to unsuspecting parents and candidates.
“I will engage my colleagues at the Ministry of Interior, National Treasury, the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions to determine forensic means to deal with the proceeds accrued from this illegal exercise. Culprits must be brought to book,” she added.