Over 1.2 million candidates will begin their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations this morning in 28,316 examination centres across the country.
They were taken through the rehearsal on Friday last week and will sit their first paper (Mathematics) from 8.30am to 10.30am.
After going through a crash programme following the disruption to the academic calendar by the Covid-19 pandemic, the candidates will sit the examinations for the next three days.
TSC has identified and vetted 242,406 teachers who will be used to administer the examinations while the Interior ministry will deploy more than 45,000 security officers for the exercise.
Although Knec has not given timelines for the marking of the examinations, it has been releasing the results after about two to three weeks since the process is fully automated apart from the English composition and Kiswahili insha.
The results are expected either late this month or early in April to give parents ample time to prepare to take their children to secondary school.
Knec has merged centres that have less than 30 candidates to cut down on the cost of logistics. This has affected 151 centres whose candidates will be hosted elsewhere. The move elicited mixed reactions with one person moving to court to overturn the decision. The court, however, ruled in favour of Knec.
Dr Njeng’ere said that head teachers of schools that have been hosted in other centres must accompany the candidates to the host schools and remain there throughout the period of the examination to provide psychosocial support and maintain discipline.
Another 831,015 candidates will from next week do the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education Education (KCSE), marking the start of a major departure to the administration of tests that stakeholders have termed as expensive.
This will be the third last group to sit the KCPE and KCSE examinations under the 8-4-4 education system as the transition to the 2-6-3-3-3 draw nearer.
The next lot will do the twin tests later this year with the last group set to wrap up the decades-old national examinations in December next year.
This year’s examinations will be administered against the backdrop of heightened election campaigns, forcing Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha to ban rallies at schools functioning as examination centres.
There are 33,755 more candidates registered for the examination this year than those who sat the 2020 edition, representing a 2.75 per cent increase.
Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) boss David Njeng’ere told the Nation that all preparations are complete and that county directors of education and their Teachers Service Commission (TSC) counterparts have briefed the centre managers, supervisors and invigilators on their roles.
The examination materials are stored in 491 distribution centres that are under 24-hour armed guard. Sub-county directors of education and deputy county commissioners are the custodians of the security locks. They will open the containers at 6.30am and distribute the examinations materials.
“The examination materials, should be issued to centre managers in person and escorted by armed security personnel,” Dr Njeng’ere said during the briefing of officials. He said that the road network across the country has greatly improved, making the distribution of materials easier.
Knec has operationalised a command to enhance communication and monitoring of the conduct of examinations. The centre’s toll free lines are 0800724900 and 0800721410.
“The examination has not leaked. We’re fully in control. Even though the (exam cheating) cartels are very active, they are getting nothing. The children shouldn’t be hoodwinked,” Prof Magoha said at Senior Chief Koinange Secondary School in Kiambu County over the weekend.
He revealed that there are helicopters that will be on standby to deliver examination materials to areas that have security challenges.
Some areas of the Rift Valley have experienced banditry attacks with the latest happening on Saturday night in Baringo County where seven people were killed. Leaders in Isiolo North have also called for security reinforcement following the killing of eleven people in two days.
Attacks in the volatile Samburu County have caused panic in the area, which has over 1,000 candidates. County Commissioner Henry Wafula said they have finalised security preparations and deployed adequate police officers to guard the containers where examination materials are stored.
Contingents of police officers drawn from the Anti-Stock Theft Unit, General Service Unit, Administration Police and Rapid Deployment Unit will beef up security in the troubled areas, Mr Wafula added.
In Isiolo, leaders have appealed to the government to deploy enough police officers to schools in insecurity prone areas in Isiolo North for the safety of candidates.
Eleven people were killed in two separate banditry attacks in Lakole, Merti, Attan and Ngaremara between Monday and Wednesday last week, spreading fear among the residents.
“We want enough officers deployed to the affected areas to ensure safety of the candidates during the exams,” said Isiolo Woman Rep aspirant Sumeya Bishar, adding that the insecurity could affect the learners’ performance.
Tension has been rife in the affected areas with many residents fleeing for safety.
More than five schools in the area have been affected by the attacks.
County Parents Chairman Ismael Galma said Class Eight and Form Four candidates might not perform well if the insecurity is not immediately addressed.
As in previous years, the examination monitoring will adopt a multi-agency approach.
The exercise brings together the ministries of Education, Interior and ICT, with senior officials including principal secretaries and cabinet administrative secretaries dispatched to monitor the examinations countrywide.