The Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination kicked off yesterday amid tight security to curb malpractices and ensure candidates’ safety.
This came even as President Uhuru Kenyatta asked parents not to pile pressure on students to pass national exams, saying such moves fuel cheating.
Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) in a statement indicated that candidates would start on with French oral and braille, German and Arabic papers.
“Let learners get what they deserve. A child who is meant to join university will do so regardless of passing exams or not,” he said. “The best parents can do is wish their children the best in exams. Let us reduce pressure of our children as they are all gifted in different ways.”
In the various exam centres that People Daily visited, there was limited human, with outsiders and unauthorised individuals not allowed to access schools.
At Pangani Girls High School, even journalists were blocked from accessing exam rooms.
“ We have been ordered not to allow you beyond this point. Exams are in progress and students should not be interrupted,” a security guard told People Daily.
Efforts to seek Knec chief executive Mercy Gathigia Karogo’s authorisation to access exam centre did not bear fruit. She insisted the 664,586 candidates sitting the exams must not be interrupted.
Other papers scheduled to start this week are Kenya Sign Language (practical signing skills), music (practical) and home science (food and nutrition).
According to Knec, timetable the theory papers will begin in two weeks’ time.
And speaking in Sotik, Bomet county yesterday, the President asked parents to stop exerting unnecessary pressure on candidates.
He also warned parents against helping their children cheat in exams but only help them through encouragement and prayers.
Uhuru also announced that the government would ensure all Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam candidates transition to secondary school.
“To ensure candidates don’t cheat, no matter the grade, every Standard Eight pupil will get a chance to continue with his/her education ,” said the Head of State.
In Kisii county, it was a tragic start for candidates at Nyabisase SDA School after their colleague died hours before the exam started.
Mathius Ombiro died on Sunday night while receiving treatment at a local private hospital. His parents, Thomas Orina and Mary Moraa, said their son had been treated for liver infection and discharged two weeks ago.
His condition, however, did not improve and was worsened further and was admitted to Christmarine Hospital where he died.
In Kisumu county, some centres experienced delays. The exam did not kick off at 8am as scheduled. At Lions High School, the exercise had not started by 9 am and no invigilator had reported by 9.15am
At Kisumu boys, around 9.30am, teachers were still preparing for the exercise. In the neighbouring Kisumu Girls, the exercise commenced a few minutes past 10 am.
When reached to comment over the delays, the Nyanza regional education coordinator Richard Chepkawai denied knowledge of any delay, insisting the exercise kicked off in the region without a hitch.
“We have been monitoring day one of the examination and no hitch has been noted so far,” he said.
Reporting by Alvin Mwangi, Dickens Wasonga and Enock Amukhale