Cases of cheating rock KCSE exams

Education Principal Secretary Dr Belio Kipsang overseeing the collection of exam Materials at the Kisauni Deputy County Commissioner's Office.

The ongoing Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations were rocked by cheating allegations yesterday, with some top education officials suspended from overseeing the test and some arrested.

The highest ranking casualty was Nyambaria High School Chief Principal Charles Onyari who was stood down as the centre manager of the school in Nyamira County for allegedly being “involved in facilitating examination irregularities”. The school topped the list in the 2022 exams with an impressive mean score of 10.90.

The Manga sub-county director of education, under which the school falls, was also suspended.

The principal of Gekomoni Secondary School in the same sub-county was arrested last week and will appear in court on Friday.

Also in police custody is the principal of Gekonge High School and three other teachers. According to a senior officer from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Principal Morris Oyugi and the teachers were arrested while in the process of photocopying examination papers.

The officer said the cheating scheme also involved non-teaching staff and security personnel. In the scheme, teachers who are not permitted to be within the school during the exam period swap places with bursars and secretaries.

Once the examination papers are received and opened, the teachers take the extra copies and work out the answers then photocopy them. The photocopies are then sneaked into the exam room.

Sironga Girls Secondary School from the same area has also been implicated in the cheating allegations.

Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu confirmed the suspensions and said that the ministry would not “tolerate such nonsense” from officials.

“We have put very tight measures to ensure no room for cheating. When a person is caught engaging in a malpractice, both that person and the centre manager are to be held responsible,” Mr Machogu said.

“We have features in each and every paper that are school-specific and we are able to know exactly where a malpractice happens, be it photocopying or photographing of the examination paper,” the CS added.

A senior official who did not wish to be named said Mr Onyari was suspended by the Teachers Service Commission on the recommendation of the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec).

The Nation understands that Mr Onyari has only been suspended as the centre manager and not as the principal of the school. “We want to kill that impunity at the earliest opportunity,” the official said.

Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang confirmed that a number of officials, including centre managers, had been arrested for various offences including uploading examination materials on social media hours after they were administered to the candidates.

Dr Kipsang said the ministries of Education, ICT and Interior are collaborating to seal all the loopholes used by exam cheats.

“The three ministries have enhanced surveillance on social media. Those who abuse social media will be dealt with,” he added.

On Monday, Dr Kipsang revealed that law enforcement agencies, including the DCI, the Cybercrime Unit, and the Communication Authority (CA) are working to combat the dissemination of examination materials online.

“We have been able to deal with quite a number of spaces on social media. Quite a number of them have been pulled down, and quite a number have been closed. Additionally, quite a number of people have been arrested this week. We shall continue being very harsh on these social media individuals who are giving us challenges,” he said.

Nyamira County DCI officer Paul Makonge revealed that cheating incidents were increasingly being recorded as the examinations that began on Monday progressed.

Mr Machogu and Knec boss David Njeng’ere have vowed to crackdown on exam cheating.

In Nairobi County, a man arrested at an examination centre attempting to take the test for a candidate was arraigned yesterday at the Makadara Law Courts. Dennis Kiplangat was charged alongside Nicholas Kiprono who is the registered candidate. The two were arrested at the Ofafa Jericho Primary School private examination centre in Makadara sub-county on November 6.

Reporting by David Muchunguh, Ruth Mbula, Winnie Atieno and Joseph Ndunda