Safeguard integrity of national exams
That over two million learners are set to start their national examinations today is a major milestone that the Ministry of Education ought to take seriously as it puts in place measures to ensure the exam papers are ring-fenced from cheats and any other avenues for the questions to be leaked.
In Kenya, exams have been elevated to a point where they can make or break an individual’s career prospects and other opportunities in life. This makes it even more important for those administering them to ensure that every candidate has as fair a chance to succeed as the next.
Any loopholes that could lead to leaks, or to some candidates getting an unfair advantage over others, ought to have been sealed by now. And where one is detected, swift action must be taken to nip any irregularities in the bud. Severe punitive action also ought to be taken against any individual found culpable of exam malpractices.
Since this is the first examination under the new administration, it is to be expected that there will be challenges arising from inexperience. The relevant agencies ought to have developed scenarios on how to deal with emerging challenges so that they are not caught flatfooted, say, in the event that rains make an examination centre inaccessible by road, or where candidates develop health complications during the exam period.
And once the primary school exams are done, the government ought to provide a clear way forward on how the candidates will transit to secondary school, given that there is still no clarity on whether the Grade Six candidates will move to secondary or remain within primary schools.
Such clarity is important for parents and learners to prepare for the transition. It will also help in the training of teachers in addition to giving schools sufficient time to purchase learning materials and prepare the infrastructure needed to ensure smooth implementation of the curriculum.
In the past, there have also been hitches with transition, with a large number of learners falling off the wagon before joining secondary school. The Education Ministry, and other agencies such as the provincial administration, should raise their game and ensure that the transition rate is high despite the challenges the country is facing, particularly in drought-stricken regions.
That said, the management and staff of ‘People Daily’ would like to take this opportunity to wish all the candidates success in the examinations.