The Government was last night preparing to use police helicopters to fly Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination papers to flood-hit regions.
Ministry of Education officials said on Sunday the papers will be flown to Mandera, Wajir, Tana River and Isiolo, where roads have been cut off by the short rains currently pounding most parts of the country.
The Nation also learnt on Sunday that the ministry has merged some of the centres in areas where roads have been rendered impassable in order to reduce unnecessary travel and avoid disruptions.
A total of 1,088,986 KCPE candidates in 27,809 centres across the country will today rehearse for the tests which begin Tuesday with mathematics and English.
They will on Wednesday sit for science and Kiswahili and conclude with social studies and religious education on Thursday.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has instructed that examination materials be transported in the presence of the police and using government vehicles.
“The process of opening examination papers in examination rooms must be witnessed by candidates, security forces, an invigilator and a supervisor to ensure that no mistake is made. This is meant to address cases where officials open scripts before the scheduled time,” said Prof Magoha last week.
The Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) will engage contracted professionals – including 1,437 deputy county commissioners, sub-county directors of education and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC).
“We will also engage 1,916 security officers, 339 sub-county examination officers , 339 TSC Officers, 339 clerks and 339 data capturers,” added Dr Mercy Karogo, Knec’s CEO.
The Knec will use a total of 479 containers for storage of examination materials as opposed to the 459 used in 2018.
Prof Magoha has warned that any examination official found tampering with the papers or contravening any rule will be dealt with harshly.
He said last week that the ministry had mapped out more than 300 examination centres where cheating is likely to take place and has increased surveillance in those areas.
Ministry officials have also plugged likely loopholes in which cheating cartels were hoping to cash in on.
Some of these include opening question papers before the stipulated time, tampering with the materials during transportation or having teachers coaching the candidates.
Rift Valley region has more than 300,000 candidates sitting for the exam in more than 8,000 centres. The candidates include 208 inmates, majority of whom will be based in Nakuru and Uasin Gishu counties.
The candidates from the region will be supervised by about 23,000 invigilators, all of whom have been briefed on how to conduct themselves.
“We have about 307,000 KCPE candidates sitting for this year’s exams in Rift valley. The number is for both public and private candidates combined,” said Mr John Ololtuaa, the region’s director of education.
In Kirinyaga County, 7,127 girls and 6,708 boys registered for the exams.
County Director of Education Abdikadir Hassan has attributed the high number of girls to emphasis on girl-child education.
He said adequate measures have been put in place to ensure that all candidates sit for their exams in time despite the ongoing heavy rains that have seen some schools cut off by floods.
“We have held meetings with senior police officers to deliberate on security matters. We want to ensure that examination will not be interrupted,” said Mr Hassan. All primary and secondary schools closed for the long holidays last week to pave way for the exams.
Meanwhile, a total of 699,745 Form Four candidates are already sitting foreign languages and science practicals, and will begin their theory tests in 10,287 centres on November 4.
Some 12 pregnant candidates at Mulot and Kiplokyi girls secondary schools are sitting the KCSE exams in Bomet County.
The high number of pregnant candidates had been blamed on bodaboda riders who prey on the girls by enticing them with free rides. Last year, more than 30 pregnant girls sat for KSCE and KCPE examinations in the county, in what kicked off a storm over cases of teenage pregnancies.
“People who sexually exploit schoolchildren will be arrested and prosecuted. Situations where young girls are thrust into premature motherhood will not be tolerated,” warned county commissioner Geoffrey Omoding.
He added that three secondary schools and two primary schools in the county are on a watchlist over cheating.
More than 30 primary and secondary schools in Mwingi Central are facing possible disruptions of the national examinations after a bridge at the notorious Enziu River was partly washed away.
Education officials may have to use alternative routes to transport the exam papers to schools in the heavy rains continue pounding.
Additional reporting by Samuel Baya, George Munene, Kitavi Mutua and Vitalis Kimutai
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Publish date : 2019-10-28 12:33:35