Ensure 2018 exams stand up to scrutiny

A defining exercise for a number of youth, namely the national exams, kicks off tomorrow and will run for three days for the 1.06 million KCPE and a month for about 600,000 KCSE candidates.

  National exams are a critical component of education and universal socialisation and reach. It’s in this recognition the government has left nothing to chance, channelling massive resources to ensure exams are credibly administered. Statistics that underscore both preparation and resoluteness in management of the 2018 exams are self-evident.   

Over and above the 50,000 security officers, tens of thousands of non-security personnel ranging from Cabinet and Principal secretaries and Chief Administrative officers are expected to play some supervisory or monitoring role besides the 150,000 invigilators who starting tomorrow will be deployed to oversee exams in more 27,000 centres, themselves ring-fenced to guarantee security and safety. 

Education Cabinet secretary Amina Mohamed has assured that every conceivable scenario has been considered—logistical imperatives, weather and insecurity. Its all systems go.      

There are valid reasons for these strident measures. Three years ago, Kenya faced the depravity of 70 per cent increase in incidents of cheating with 5,000 KCSE results cancelled. It marked our bleakest and most horrendous narrative of exam irregularities. It prompted the overhaul of Kenya National Examination Council (Knec), the body charged with setting and managing national exams.

Certification, it must be pointed out, is universally anchored on exam results. However, it became clear certificates from Knec-administered exams were not worth the paper they were written on courtesy to the brazen cheating.  What’s more, rampant fiddling was distorting the essence of education, reducing it to rote learning, promoting selective knowledge accumulation and obsession with ends rather than substance. 

Thankfully changes now synonymous with former Education CS Fred Matiang’i, who presided over the radical review of exams management, and Knec boss George Magoha have been built in, leading to conviction and no-nonsense approach to exams matters.   

Parents who think they can buy success, teachers and principals with an eye to influencing results, buccaneers and rogue exam council officials out line their pockets will not penetrate the armour thrown around the exercise. For us, we take this opportunity to wish 2018 exam candidates the best.     

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