Blow to learners as Education ministry moves to enforce ban on mock, joint exams

St Peter's Mumias Boys High School students carry on with their KCSE exam on November 7, 2016.

Millions of Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exam candidates who were hoping to improve their performance during mocks and joint examinations have their hopes dampened after the Ministry of Education banned the tests.

This is a big blow to more than 1 million candidates set to write the 2023 KCPE exams and nearly a million candidates who will write the KCSE exams.

Rehearsals for KCPE, as well as the Kenya Primary School Education Assessment (KPSEA), will be conducted on October 27, with the exams officially beginning on October 30 and ending on November 1, 2023.

KCSE, on the other hand, will be rehearsed on October 10, and will officially end on November 24 with Physics paper.

In a circular sent to all the 47 county directors of education and 295 sub-county directors of Education, and copied to Cabinet Secretary Education Ezekiel Machogu, Teachers Service (TSC) Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia, and Regional Directors of Education, Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang said the ban issued on August 12, 2015, is still in force.

“As you are aware the Parliamentary Committee on Education chaired by David Koech and the Special Investigation Team chaired by Claire Omollo on school unrest both recommended the ban on all joint inter schools examinations,” said Mr Kipsang in a circular dated July 6.

Added the PS: “These circulars are still in force and all schools are advised to desist from holding any inter-school examinations as this will interfere with the school calendar.”

The PS directed the education managers at the counties to enforce the ban immediately.

“The purpose of this circular is to ask you to bring this to the attention of all schools within your jurisdiction and take corrective measures to stop any occurrence,” said Mr Kipsang.

In 2008, then PS Education Prof Karega Mutahi issued interim guidelines on tuition and mock examinations.

Mr Mutahi directed that no whole tuition will be allowed to take place in Schools.

He further directed remedial teaching should be confined to weak learners and that no fee should be charged for tuition while prep time should be left to students to carry out individual learning or revision work without formal teaching.

However, a spot check by the Sunday Nation established that all the public and private schools had ignored the directive for the past 15 years.

“I pay Sh30 daily for remedial fees for my Class 8 pupil who is a candidate at St Johns Primary School in Nakuru Town East. There’s no free primary education in Kenya, nobody should cheat you,” said a parent.

Interestingly according to most Principals, the schools’ unrest recorded in the last decade was not fueled by inter-school examinations.

“We have been conducting this test and nobody at the Ministry has questioned it because even their sons and daughters are the biggest beneficiaries as they perform well in National and county schools courtesy of these so-called banned tests,” said a school head in Naivasha.

The mocks and joint examinations are done at the county and at national levels with top-performing schools showing their prowess ahead of the national examinations.

Most of the teachers use the test as the final push to improve their candidates' grades and school overall mean scores.

“The Ministry of Education is ill-informed about the mocks and joint examinations because as a school we compete with established schools and this gives our candidates good preparations to face the national examinations without much fear,” said a Mathematics teacher in one of the National schools in Nakuru County.

She added: “The notion that the joint exams and mocks will interfere with the school calendar is far-fetched. We have been doing these tests for as long as I can remember. I have been a teacher for the last 10 years and it has never interfered with the school calendar.”

Another teacher in a top private school in the region expressed his dismay at the Ministry of Education's move to ban the test.

“This is unfair to candidates who are struggling to improve their grades and teachers will find it hard to deal with individual students who are weak in various subjects,” said the Biology teacher.