The Ministry of Education on Monday said tough measures had been put in place to ensure the Standard Eight national examinations that kick off Tuesday go on without any hitch.
Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i led a team from his ministry, the Teachers Service Commission and Kenya National Examinations Council to inform the country that everything was in place despite simmering political tensions heightened by the Thursday disputed rerun presidential election.
Dr Matiang’i, who is the acting Interior Cabinet Secretary, also announced the introduction of a three-level security management system to curb any irregularities as was the case in last year’s examination.
“The management of the examination has been improved. We have introduced three levels of security,” Dr Matiang’i said without elaborating when he toured Githurai, Riruta Satellite and Gatina Primary schools in Nairobi.
A total of 1,003,556 pupils who registered for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination will write their tests from Tuesday in 28,566 centres.
They start with English Language and composition papers.
The candidates sit Science, Kiswahili Lugha and Kiswahili Insha on Wednesday and end with Social Studies and Religious Studies on Thursday.
Some of the new changes in the examinations include introduction of a candidate’s photo on answer sheets.
The index number of the pupils has also been printed on answer sheets.
The government acquired 20 modern scanning machines expected to improve speed and accuracy when processing the examinations.
During the three-day examination period, no politician will be allowed in the schools.
The ministry and KNEC said the centres would be out of bounds.
Apart from exam officials, candidates and security officers, only head teachers and their deputies will be allowed in the schools.
Supervisors, invigilators and centre managers are prohibited from using their phones during when an examination is ongoing.
The ministry said it had identified Kibera, Mathare and Kawangware estates in Nairobi as trouble spots and deployed more security personnel to the areas.
All senior officials from the ministries of Education and Interior, KNEC and TSC will be involved in monitoring the examination.
During his tour of the three schools, Dr Matiang’i asked Kenyans not to interfere with the examination, saying the pupils had been in school for eight years and that their dreams should not be destroyed by politics.
KNEC chairman George Magoha told candidates that the examination was simple and had not been leaked.
“Do not fear the examination. Have confidence in yourself,” he told the Githurai Primary School candidates.
This year, the council has combined question papers and answer booklets into one document for applicable subjects.
This means that the candidates will not be issued with separate booklets, making the administration of the tests more efficient and effective, according to the examination council.
Deputy county commissioners and sub-county directors of education will not be allowed to open containers carrying the examination materials before 6am.
Centre managers must also confirm that the materials are intact before opening the cartoons.
Last year, 942,021 candidates sat the examination. Of these, 49.7 per cent were girls while boys were 50.3 per cent.
A total of 419 containers have been sent across the country for storage of the examination materials.
In 2016, there were 346 containers in 288 sub-counties.
Every container has a double locking system with the padlocks and keys in the possession of deputy county commissioners and sub-county directors of education.
Before being declared winner of the Thursday rerun on Monday, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta sent a success message to KCPE examination candidates.
“I’d like to start with a word of encouragement to our candidates. Revision can seem dreary; the exams daunting; and I know that you hope to make your parents and teachers proud.
"Don’t let any of that discourage you. Pray and prepare and your ability will carry you through,” the President said.
“This year’s class is especially lucky, because you will be the first beneficiaries of my government’s free secondary education programme.
"What will matter is your ability and your diligence, not whether you can pay for a place.”
National Super Alliance principal Kalonzo Musyoka sent similar wishes to the candidates.
“True success comes through dedication, hard work and, above all, an unwavering belief and trust in God.
"Despite the volatile political situation prevailing in Kenya, I strongly believe that our dear country still holds a lot of promise for the youth,” Mr Musyoka said.
“My message to you, dear candidates, is that you tackle your papers with bravery, wit and determination. Avoid panic.
"Above all, look ahead with confidence. A bright future awaits you, in spite of what may appear to be insurmountable challenges within our borders.”