Cell phone headache in exam cheating

Thursday, March 17th, 2022 10:50 | By

The cell phone has emerged as the greatest impediment to the fight against cheating in the ongoing Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha admitted as much yesterday when hawk-eyed examination officials impounded dozens of cell phones from candidates on the third day of the tests.

“The greatest singular enemy we have today is the cell phone during exam time. Do not push us to say that we shall not want to see any cell phone in the school during exam time. You really have to manage the cell phones,” said Magoha.

This came as 63 candidates and one invigilator were arrested in Kakuma, Turkana County, for allegedly engaging in exam malpractices.

County police commander Samuel Ndanyi said 25 candidates from Somali Bantu Secondary School and 38 from Greenlight Secondary School in the refugee camp were released on free bond and one invigilator will be granted cash bail as investigations continue.

Ndanyi said all the suspects will appear in court later to answer to charges of exam malpractice and negligence of duty.

He said police are investigating unusual activities in the two schools within the refugee camp.

“Sub-county security committee who were on routine KCSE examination check in Kakuma Refugee Camp noticed unusual activities,” he said. 

Ndanyi said all the mobile phones were scrutinised and money kept as exhibits before the suspects were allowed to sit their papers. A county security team and Ministry of Education officials are investigating the incidents.

Two other candidates sitting their KCSE exam at Olmariko Secondary in Narok County are also being investigated after they were found with a cell phone.

The WhatsApp curse

Narok County Commissioner Isaac Masinde said the two were late for the exam only to be found in the dormitory with a phone.

“The candidates were missing when the exam was beginning, but when the exam managers alerted the security officers, they searched for the two and found them in their dormitory with a cell phone,” he said.

Masinde, however, said the two were allowed to continue with the exam as police carry out investigations.

“We are investigating whether there is any teacher who was involved in the incident so that we can take action immediately. The Ministry of Education is very clear that no student should be found with a phone during the examination period,” he said.

In North Eastern, Regional Commissioner James Kianda cautioned those entrusted with administering the exams that any form of malpractice will be dealt with in accordance with the law.

Kianda was reacting to an incident where an examination centre manager took a photo of an exam paper and sent it to the principal of the institution via WhatsApp.

“We are cautioning anybody who is hell-bent on trying to cheat in the exam. It is their future and we cannot allow anybody to mess with it,” he said.

Elsewhere, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations is investigating an incident where distribution of papers in 23 schools in Uasin-Gishu county was delayed after keys to a storage container were misplaced.

There was confusion at Kapsoya exam collection centre in Ainabkoi sub-county when the key could not be traced.

Examination officials and security personnel who had arrived to collect the papers had to wait as confusion ensued.

Uasin-Gishu County Director of Education Harrison Muriuki said the key was in the custody of the Ainabkoi Deputy County Commissioner.

“We forcibly opened the padlock after consulting with KNEC. The exams were later distributed without further hitches,” said Muriuki.

The keys to each exam container at the sub-county headquarters are kept by the sub-county director of education and sub-county deputy commissioner who must be present to open the containers.

Yesterday, Magoha, however, denied fears that the examinations had leaked, saying the situation was under control.

“The exam is going on well but we are a bit worried about certain hot spots. For avoidance of doubt, this exam has not leaked because of the multi-agency approach we are giving it through the ministries of Education, Interior and ICT. Let us be very careful not to scare our children,” said the CS, who spoke at Precious Blood Riruta Secondary School in Nairobi.

Screenshots menace

Magoha blamed the incidents on a “few crooked teachers” who he accused of accessing the exam during its collection from containers for onward transportation to exam centres.

 He regretted that some teachers were going against the ministry’s directives.

He singled out a teacher in Sir Newton High School in Eastleigh,  Nairobi, who was arrested after he was found taking shots of an exam paper.

Another student in Eastleigh High School was found with a phone which contained screenshots sent from Daraja Mbili in Kisii county.

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