KESSHA wants school principals not involved in picking examination invigilators
Tuesday, March 21, 2023
By Anne Mwale
The Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KESSHA) wants school principals not to be involved in the picking of invigilators and supervisors for national examinations to curb cheating and irregularities.
KESSHA has claimed that rogue invigilators and supervisors were allegedly colluding with school heads to open the exam papers prematurely and sharing the questions with select candidates for revision which gave them undue advantage over other candidates.
Nakuru County KESSHA Chairperson Charles Manyara said the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) and Teachers Service Commission (TSC) should liaise with investigative agencies in conducting background checks of individuals shortlisted as invigilators and supervisors for national examinations before their appointments are approved.
Manyara indicated that cheating in an examination is not an instantaneous affair as it is planned well in advance adding that the syndicate involves parents, teachers, examination handling officers, students and other accomplices.
He was speaking during a public participation by the Education Committee of the National Assembly on investigations into suspected malpractices in the 2022 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations held at the Regional Commissioner’s Plenary Hall.
“Some schools charge candidates extra fees in readiness for any ‘opportunity’. Contrary to popular opinion, malpractice is not the preserve of the unprepared. It is normal, and some students look forward to it, especially if their school had set a precedent,” stated the Chairperson.
Manyara expressed concern that KNEC no longer supervises practical and technical subjects and had instead delegated the responsibility to resident teachers who he claimed were rampantly abusing the system by doctoring marks in favour of their students.
Manyara said some school heads were notorious for obtaining KCSE examination marking schemes ‘at a fee’ which they later exposed to candidates.
He observed that when schools perform poorly, parents and politicians demand the removal of school heads, a situation the chairperson said motivates principals to engage in examination malpractices.
“There is usually pressure from parents and stakeholders on the performance of a school. Even if it is not disciplined but it performs, parents and other stakeholders do not mind. But when a principal is not performing, he is quickly removed,” added the chairperson.
The Chairperson said that the Ministry of Education should continue liaising with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations so that all criminal elements involved in examination malpractices are arraigned.
He added “Further, it should seek to craft a law that will mete out a deterrent sentence to any culprit proven beyond doubt. We must look into ways of ensuring that each learner obtains their rightful grade that equally places them in their rightful careers,” he said.
The chair of the committee Julius Melly (MP Tinderet) had earlier indicated that the audit was necessitated by a public outcry following the release of the results in January.
The meetings are intended to shed light on the conduct of the 2022 examinations. Mr Melly said that his committee is not on a fault-finding mission.
Education Committee Members present during the session that was chaired by Nyamira Women Representative Jerusha Momanyi included Lugari Member of Parliament Nabii Nabwera, his Moiben counterpart Prof Phyllis Bartoo and Kitutu Masaba legislator Clive Gisairo.
According to KNEC guidelines on examination cheating, any candidate who commits an examination irregularity will have the results for the whole subject cancelled.
Such a candidate will not be entitled to a result and will be awarded a “Y” overall grade.
If there is evidence of wide-spread irregularities in any examination centre, the results for the entire centre will be cancelled.
Any person caught accessing the examination material before the scheduled time faces a jail term not exceeding 10 years or a fine not exceeding Sh2 million.
Gisairo indicated that if exam cheating is not checked, it will hugely compromise Kenya’s education standards. He called on KNEC to reduce the high pass mark it sets and ensure its staff is honest.
“These words at the entrance of a South African university sum up our predicament: “Destroying any nation does not require the use of atomic bombs or the use of long-range missiles. It only requires lowering the quality of education and allowing cheating in the examinations by the students,” he said.
He added, “Patients die at the hands of such doctors. Buildings collapse at the hands of such engineers. Money is lost at the hands of such economists and accountants.
Humanity dies at the hands of such religious scholars. Justice is lost at the hands of such judges.
The collapse of education is the collapse of the nation. ‘’The onus of education lies with the principals,” observed Gisairo.
Bartoo noted that the malpractice spoke volumes about the country’s moral fabric adding that it was unimaginable how adults sit down to teach children to be dishonest.
She observed that for selfish reasons such as promotion, teachers sacrifice their integrity with oother players being motivated by short-term financial gain while parents want assurance that their children will qualify for good academic programmes.
“Lecturers often come across students who cannot express themselves in writing yet they have qualified for college admission. Consider a student who cheats all through their studies till they become teachers or medics, for example. The harm that such individuals cause to humanity is unfathomable. Yet, our myopia leads us into assisting them to climb the ranks,” she stated.
A resident Ms Miriam Wanjiku said the Teachers Service Commission, must serve teachers equitably.
“Exam mean scores remain a key element in determining teachers’ upward mobility, regardless of other intervening factors; hence, those in underprivileged schools resort to desperate schemes,” she noted.
Members of the Education committee are seeking information on the administration of the examinations, marking, award of marks and if there was cheating.
Ms Momanyi indicated that the intention of the inquiry is to restore credibility in national examinations.
The committee has divided itself into two regions for purposes of public engagements.
The engagements are also involving opinion leaders and examination officers.
In addition to investigation of examination malpractices, the inquiry is also looking into the motivation of examiners and logistical challenges.
“We are also looking into the mobility of the exam; how exams are set, how they are stored and transported. Also the welfare of examiners. If an examiner is not motivated, could his character and attitude add to the issues affecting the examinations? How are marking centres?”Ms Momanyi asked.
She said that the committee will take one week to collect the views of the public and that the report will be ready after one month.