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Cartel Nation: How Plan To Steal Exams Was Hatched

 

By OUMA WANZALA

Details on how principals in 30 secondary schools across the country — with the support of parents — have been planning to cheat in national examinations can now be revealed.

Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) on Monday explained how the scheme — which started last term — was hatched, with principals collecting money from parents and clearly indicating to them that the money is to help buy examination materials or ‘facilitate’ those who will administer the examinations.

This was revealed during a closed-door meeting presided over by Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang and attended by Knec officials led by chairman George Magoha, acting chief executive officer Mercy Karogo, officials of secondary and primary school heads associations and regional co-ordinators of education.

The meeting held at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) was called to deliberate on measures to stamp out cheating in the 2018 national examinations.

The cheating plan was unearthed after the government managed to have its security officers and Education ministry officials attend prayer day meetings in schools where they pretended to be parents or guardians.

They managed to record all proceedings without the knowledge of the school management.

And despite the ban on prayer days in schools in the third term by Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, many institutions still organised the events without the approval of the ministry and which saw parents interact with students.

It also emerged that some principals were on record (audio and video) thanking parents for ‘co-operating’ with them and assuring them that all will be well in the national examinations.

It also emerged in the meeting that principals are aware that the only way candidates can manage to cheat in the exams is through early exposure — it means that examination materials are opened before time in order to have candidates know which questions they will be tackling.

Sources at the meeting also indicated that some schools have plans to provide accommodation to supervisors and invigilators in order to effectively run the plan to cheat in the exams effectively.

This is because some principals have asked teachers to vacate staff quarters in order to create room for supervisors.

Some are also relying on photocopying of examination materials for those who are allegedly shortsighted in order to facilitate cheating. Some principals also registered ghost candidates.

It emerged that the government will dispatch officers to visit the affected schools with a clear message that it will not be business as usual.

Addressing journalists after the meeting, Prof Magoha said action will not be taken against the principals who are involved in the deals at this time but they will be closely monitored by government agencies.

“We do not want to create panic in schools during examination time,” he said. Some 26 teachers, among them principals, were interdicted for last year’s examination irregularities.

Prof Magoha disclosed that three schools that are involved in plans to cheat are in Garissa, four schools in Kisii and five schools in Meru, among others.

Other hotspot counties are Kiambu, West Pokot, Wajir and some parts of Nyanza. “We are closely monitoring those schools and we want to ask them to stop such plans immediately,” he said.

He said he had visited schools in Migori, Homa Bay, Nyamira and Kisii while Ms Karogo had visited Central region in an examination pre-monitoring exercise.

Dr Kipsang will today visit Nyeri and Isiolo counties while other Knec officers will visit other regions.

Dr Kipsang asked school heads not to be tempted into cheating, saying the penalties will be severe.

“We are determined to deliver credible examination the way we have done in the last two years,” Dr Kipsang said.

The PS said the government will not tolerate blackmail from candidates such as the demand to have mobile phones in schools.

“Some students are causing destruction so that they can do the examinations as day scholars but we won’t allow that to happen.”

Prof Magoha said the exam cheating plan involves a cartel of 20 people across the country.

Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association chairman Kahi Indimuli assured the country that they will support the move to maintain high integrity of examinations.

“We had results of 10 schools cancelled last year and we are determined to have zero cases this year,” Mr Indimuli said.

The national exams will start on October 22 with Kenya Certificate Secondary Education examination papers for orals, aural and practicals while the written examination will start on November 5.

The number of candidates sitting Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exam this year is 1,060,759 in 27,161 centres while KCSE exam candidates are 664,586 in 10,078 centres.

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