Covid protocols rule on Day One of KCPE exams

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021 00:00 | By
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha inspects exam materials inside a container in Thika West, Kiambu County yesterday. Photo/PD/Mathew Ndung’u

Ten Class Eight candidates sat their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination at the Kenyatta National Hospital where they are admitted with various ailments.

According to a statement from the hospital, the candidates, who are undergoing specialised care at the facility, are drawn from various schools across the country.

“KNH management has put in place all the necessary requirements and conditions for the candidates to sit their national examinations in hospital,” read the statement.

The 10 are among one million candidates who started their exams yesterday amid tight security to curb cheating and ensure strict observance for Covid-19 protocols.

Education officials monitored the exercise  at different centres.

Cabinet Secretary George Magoha oversaw the opening of first paper, Mathematics, with a stern warning that action will be taken against any private or public school management which charged candidates for exam registration. 

“It is a criminal offence for schools management to collect money from children to register them for national exams because the government ordered that examination fees be paid for all children both in private and public schools,” Magoha, said when he opened an exam container in Thika West, Kiambu County.

Unregistered candidates

Magoha said while all unregistered candidates will not be penalised or denied the opportunity to sit the papers, schools management responsible for their non-registration will face the full force of the law.

“Any child who presents themselves for an examination must be allowed to sit the exam. It will at some point require that we authorise photocopying of an examination paper to allow the unregistered ones to have an opportunity to do the exams,” he said.

Magoha said his ministry had established a command centre where any hiccup in the process should be reported for swift action.

“We are all accessible, we have a command-and-control centre and should there be any child anywhere being denied an opportunity to take an exam, we need to know so that the issue can be rectified immediately,” he said.

To guarantee integrity of the process, every examination centre will be manned by two police officers whose mandate will be to ensure there are no irregularities.

All candidates are required to properly wear their masks, sanitise and have their body temperature taken.

The candidates will also undergo a thorough body search conducted by the invigilators before they are allowed in the examination rooms.

Magoha said only a few hiccups were reported during the opening of 479 containers as a few examination supervisors arrived late.

“Going forward, everybody must be at the container before 6 Oclock for a smooth process,” he said.

Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) acting CEO Mercy Karogo assured of a fair playing ground for all learners, even as she called on candidates and exam officers to strictly observe the rules.

“We are doing the exam under very unique circumstances but the most important thing is to support the candidates to ensure they  do the exams in a conducive environment,” said Karogo when she oversaw the opening of a container in Langata, Nairobi.

“Exams must be done at the same time for fairness and should be given on the same ground and that is why we appeal to each one of us to ensure we deter any malpractices,” she added.

Late invigilators

In Kisii County, four invigilators attached to Kisii Primary School were replaced after failing to report on time, which delayed the start of the exam.

Education Principal Secretary Julius Jwan, who supervised the start of the exams directed County Teacher Service Commission (TSC) Director Jane Mwaniki to replace them immediately pending disciplinary action.

One of the invigilators, who drove to the centre after 8.00am, was ordered to leave the premises.

“Reverse your vehicle and go away,” the infuriated PS told the invigilator.

He said the exams started smoothly and security had been beefed up, amid assurances that all candidates will join Form One in July as per the government’s 100 per cent transition policy.

“I laud the education team for proper organisation. We have started well and pray to God that everything goes on without hitches,” Jwan said.

In Kisumu, Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Secretary Nancy Macharia cautioned teachers against abetting cheating.

Macharia said even though cases of teachers’ involvement in examination malpractices had gone down, there was need to remain vigilant.

She said 227,700 teachers had been trained and vetted to oversee national exams.

In Mombasa, KNEC chairman John Onsati assured candidates of their security.

Onsati directed security personnel and centre managers to be vigilant and seal  any cheating loopholes.

“The exam is intact, there is no interference and it is our belief that candidates will enjoy their exams. We urge centre managers to exercise high integrity so that they can deliver credible results,” said Onsati.

In Busia, Foreign Affairs Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Ababu Namwamba also assured of the safety of  everyone involved in the examination process.

Namwamba said all Covid-19 protocols would be observed.

“Every class must observe a minimum distance of 1.22 metres between the desks and and everyone within the centres must wear a face mask,” he said.

Medical personnel are on high alert to attend to any emergency during the three-day exercise.

In Machakos, the exams started as scheduled amid concerns that social distance was not being observed.

Education CAS Sarah Ruto inspected the examination containers in the county and expressed concern about failure to observe social distance and urged school managers not to let their guard down.

“We have observed that social distance is not being maintained in examination centres. Since we are doing exams in an era of a pandemic we need to ensure we don’t let our guard down,” said Ruto.

In Siaya, journalists were banned from accessing exam centres “to curb the spread of coronavirus and unnecessary interference”.

Siaya Director of Education Nelson Sifuna said the CS had directed minimal access of schools by outsiders owing to the third Covid-19 wave.

“Kindly do not take any photos or video clips. We have been warned by the CS,” said Sifuna.

In Kajiado, no hitches were reported with pregnant girls turning up to sit the exams.

Transport CAS Wavinya Ndeti, who oversaw the exercise, said it was encouraging that more than 50 pregnant girls and some who have given birth turned up to do exams.

Ndeti said sensitisation on importance of education had played a big role in encouraging pregnant girls and teen mothers to continue with their education.

It was a smooth start in the North Rift as security was beefed up in the banditry prone region.

Rift Valley Regional Coordinator George Natembeya said all areas prone to insecurity in the 14 counties had been provided with enough security personnel.

Baringo floods

“We have put all security arrangements in place. All students, including those who are expectant, will sit their exams,” said Natembeya.

He said arrangements have also been put in place to ensure that children in 15 schools submerged by floods in Baringo sit their exams in other centres.

In Embu, Agriculture CAS Ann Nyaga said the exam will be done under strict adherence of the Covid-19 protocols to protect learners.

“The safety of our children is a priority. We must ensure all the guidelines are followed,” said Nyaga.

She expressed confidence the pupils would do well despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic.

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