Teachers, Knec in blame game over fall of academic giants

Secondary school heads and teachers have hit out at the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) for what they termed inefficiencies in managing and handling the 2013 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE).

The teachers blamed Knec for the dismal performance of some traditional academic giants that fell from grace to grass in last year’s exams.

The Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KSSHA) chairman John Awiti accused the examinations body of failing to put in place water-tight mechanisms against cheating and failing to beef up security of exam materials.

The headteachers blamed Knec as the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) claimed the ranking system was disadvantageous to schools with a huge population of students.

The union now wants the ranking system changed and accused the Ministry of Education of entrenching unfair competition. Speaking to The People yesterday, Awiti who is also the Principal of St Mary’s School, Yala, said the poor security system has adversely affected the integrity and credibility of examinations, while giving some schools undue advantage over others.

Awiti called for the establishment of an independent audit team, comprising well grounded academicians to investigate reasons behind the dwindling fortunes of some former academic giants such as Starehe Boys Centre and Lenana school.

"A lot of exam cheating incidents were reported last year and some schools that we are celebrating today may not be the ones to be glorified. The examinations body should heavily invest in the security of exams to ensure credibility is upheld," he cautioned.

Awiti pointed out that renowned schools which have traditionally and consistently posted good results like Starehe, Mangu, Alliance Girls, Pangani Girls, Friends School Kamusinga and Moi Girls Eldoret, among others, may have dropped due to the vice which he claimed affected at least 40 counties.

Starehe Boys Centre Principal Paul Mugo however attributed their poor showing to the three-week teachers strike of last year.

"Last year’s lot was the class whose learning was greatly disrupted by the teachers’ strike," said Mugo explaining that the drop from a mean of 10.346 in 2012 to 10.088 in 2013.

However, a current candidate who did not want to be named noted indiscipline of the 2013 candidates may have caused the drop in performance. "The class ahead of us had a lot of indiscipline issues and was constantly at loggerheads with the teachers," he said.

On his part, Maranda Boys Principal Boaz Owino told The People his school was not ranked since 23 out of the 423 candidates who sat the Computer Studies paper were found to have been involved in exam irregularities.

By yesterday, the 2011 KCSE winners were waiting for official communication from Siaya County Education Director after parents of the affected candidates met teachers at the school.

Kuppet secretary general Akello Misori further faulted the new KNEC Act, 2012, which stipulates that any student found to be involved in examination irregularities will be barred from sitting any examination for a subsequent period of three years.

Kaimenyi while releasing the KCSE examination results on Monday said a total of 3,353 candidates (0.75 percent) who sat for the examinations were involved in irregularities in 199 examination centres.

Misori called on KNEC to address its structural weaknesses before implementing the stiff penalties, accusing the examination council of failing to handle it’s rogue officers. "KNEC should know the exam papers are always on the streets two weeks before the national exams and it should not unfairly target the students who have invested a lot to pass the exams," he said.

Meanwhile, Misori called on the government to address the deficit of 630 teachers in public secondary schools in Nairobi County to help improve their performance in national examinations.

He pointed out the drop in performance for Lenana, Nairobi School and Pangani Girls among others could have been highly caused by the skewed teacher-pupil ratio as most schools in the city have over-enrolled students.

- The People March 5 2014.

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