Exam markers’ strike might affect results

stranded teachers St Francis Girls

Examiners outside St Francis Girls High School marking centre after it was closed indefinitely following a strike by teachers marking CRE paper 1. 

Photo credit: Amina Wako | Nation Media Group

Many students who sat their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations at the end of last year are waiting for their results, which were expected in the course of this week. 

In a shocking and unprecedented incident, however, the teachers who were marking the exams in Kiambu County went on strike on Tuesday, throwing the exercise into a spin. The aggravated examiners flocked the compound of St Francis Girls School, where they were stationed, vowing not to continue working. 

The Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) promptly terminated their contracts and advertised the vacancies.

But the teachers had been complaining about poor working conditions and low payments. They also complained about new precautionary measures in the marking of the exam that slowed them down, taking them longer.

It is said the marking scheme is rigid and the amount they were lined up to receive was less than the expenses incurred while travelling and settling at the venue.

The question now is, were the teachers right to abruptly down their tools in the middle of the exercise? Was it the right time for them to go on a demonstration?

Yes, it was their right as government workers and they are dealing with exams, which is something crucial because that’s where the future of many students is. The teachers were asked to leave the venue immediately, which goes against their rights. And who would continue with the marking if they left?

Not keen

And will that affect the KCSE exam results in any way? I think there is a very high chance that it will. If the needs of the teachers have not been fulfilled and, therefore, they won’t be keen on their duty. The marking scheme can misdirect the exercise and, without human intervention, that can affect the results.

Also, when the teachers are not comfortable during the marking, then they won’t also mark the exam as they should.

The government should ensure that teachers who mark the national exams are treated well as they deal with the future of many students, which is in those papers. They should be given what is due to them in full and without delay.

To avoid a recurrence of the as-yet-unresolved crisis, the education authorities should look into the issue seriously.

The teachers marking exams, too, should inform the concerned authorities of any shortcomings and any issues that they feel not comfortable with early enough for remedial action instead of waiting for unnecessarily long to then go on strike and disrupt the exercise.

Abedineco Katiku Kawetu, Kisumu

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