Cases of exam cheating or malpractice, especially in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) are reported almost every year.
This is a situation that has continued to taint the credibility of exams and certificates offered to students by the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC).
The National Assembly Committee on Education is now seeking answers to the vice that is threatening the education sector in the country.
The Julius Melly-led committee on Thursday met various education stakeholders to try and seal loopholes of exam malpractice.
“Universities…I know you have engineers, you have doctors, lawyers…yet you have managed to bring down the competition, what do we do in order to bring down cut throat competition in KCSE?” Posed Melly, who is the Tinderet MP.
Prof. Paul Muoki of the Kenya Universities Quality Assurance Network (KUQAN) responded: “We periodically audit the process, we suggest that maybe after every two years, independent auditors from KNEC come out and audit the process. Maybe the report can be tabled even before your committee for purposes of making sure what KNEC is doing so, currently we don’t do that…this has really worked very well in our universities and whenever reports are done they are submitted all the way to the university council.”
According to the experts, security of the examinations starts from setting, administering all the way to marking, with proposals made that practicing teachers should be exempted due to conflict of interest.
They are also suggesting that examination centres should be moved outside learning institutions with enhancement of security personnel and the use of CCTV during the examination period.
The experts also want the government to consider switching off the mobile network in cheating prone centres.
The University of Nairobi (UoN) lecturer Dr. Michael Mungai opined: “Bringing other people to set exams who are not teachers, I think there we can talk of not practicing teachers because you can be a teacher but a Member of Parliament so you are not practicing and you could be a professional in that area therefore bringing experts to set exams.”
Education expert Amos Kaburu stated: “Are our assessments measuring intelligence or exposure to content? In all fairness, examinations in this country are a measure of exposure to content, that’s why if you have not completed syllabus you will fail, if you have not read for exams you will fail.
So it’s not a matter of intelligence because intelligence you need to remove all extraneous variables and the residual value remaining is purely your intelligence, but the KNEC exams can’t do that because it is convolution of both norm as well as criterial reference.”
KNEC has been challenged to work towards automation of exams administration and grading in future, where students use biometrics, something they say maybe expensive but worth investing in.
“We do these exams as a do or die, when I am sick in bed why should I do a KCSE exam? When I’m delivering a baby and I want to rest, you are told sit for an exam in a ward…these are issues we need to address once and for all,” added MP Melly.
KASNEB boss Dr. Nicholas Leting stated: “Using my biometric, I have to use my finger to press it on so that it identifies me as candidate the way we use in IEBC when we go to vote…so I check in the system and it identifies it is a Dr. Leting sitting for this exams and it uses what we call proctering technology so that if I attempt to wink to my colleague in the room, the system can detect body movement and switch off the computer.”