The Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations got underway countrywide on Monday with some candidates failing to show up at the exam centres while others sat the papers from hospital wards due to various reasons, including childbirth.
The examinations come after a difficult academic year disrupted by Covid-19, which led to a long closure of schools. As a result, some candidates dropped out despite efforts to trace them and get them back to school when they were reopened.
In Meru, Ministry of Education officials made last-minute efforts to find the whereabouts of 933 candidates who did not resume classes. County Director of Education Milton Nzioka said 487 girls and 446 boys had not reported back by last week.
Several candidates from insecurity-prone counties in the North Rift also failed to show up. Four candidates from Tiaty Sub-county and one from Baringo South did not report to their examination centres.
The candidates — two boys and two girls from Meuto and Kolowa primary schools — did not report to school when they were reopened. Tiaty sub-county director of education Robert Maritim said the girls got pregnant and were married off, while the whereabouts of the two boys remain unknown.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha, who supervised the distribution of exam papers in Thika West, said two candidates in Thika will sit their exams from hospital.
The Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) has made special arrangements to ensure that all candidates take the exams from wherever they are.
Three candidates in Nakuru and one each in Samburu and Nyandarua counties wrote their exams at various hospitals after they gave birth on Monday morning, hours before the start of the national examinations.
Another candidate sat her exams at Murinduko Dispensary in Kuresoi North in Nakuru County, after she gave birth on Sunday.
Nakuru County Director of Education Fredrick Osewe said arrangements were in place to enable candidates to sit for their examinations from the hospitals to which they are admitted.
The examination was delayed for about 30 minutes at Kesengei Primary School in Nandi County after a candidate delivered in the morning.
Nandi South Deputy County Commissioner John Tanui said the candidate delivered at Neema Clinic at Shamakokho Town, but returned to school to continue with the exams.
Knec CEO Mercy Karogo warned against exam malpractices, saying, they should not be witnessed. She told headteachers to be on high alert.
Involved in an accident
“The most important thing is to support the candidates to ensure they have a conducive environment,” Dr Karogo said while overseeing the opening of the container where examination materials are stored at Langata West in Nairobi County.
The Kenya Defence Forces’ Air Wing was called in to help deliver examination materials to several centres in Mandera County after the vehicle ferrying them was involved in an accident.
The armoured police vehicle that was meant to deliver exam papers in Kotulo sub-county overturned, leaving at least three occupants critically injured. They were headed to Kutayu examination centre a few minutes to 7am.
The authorities also beefed up security in examination centres after suspected al-Shabaab terrorists attempted to attack a police camp at Sheikh Barrow area.
50 expectant candidates
In Tharaka-Nithi County, distribution of exam papers went on well despite a heavy downpour in Maara and Meru South sub-counties whereas in Embu County, 13 prisoners are among candidates sitting the exam as were some 50 expectant candidates in different exam centres.
In Nyandarua, eleven candidates are sitting their exams while pregnant. County Director of Education Philip Wambua said 18 pupils got pregnant during the Covid-19 break, out of whom 11 are KCPE candidates.
The expectant girls are under the special care of the school’s administration and have also been undergoing counselling.
In Nyanza, four candidates sat the exams in hospital wards. Three of the candidates were expectant teenage girls, while the forth was a boy who was taken ill and was admitted to hospital for treatment two weeks ago.
Another candidate from St Paul Kanyakwar Primary School in Kisumu County was forced to sit the exam from a hospital ward after he was injured in a bodaboda accident on Monday morning.
Fidel Onyango, 15, was on his way to school, when he sustained injuries to his right leg when a motorcycle he was riding on collided with another from the opposite direction.
The other motorbile was also carrying a candidate, who was treated and discharged.
From police cells
Onyango was visited at the hospital by Teachers Service Commission CEO Nancy Macharia, who is monitoring the exams in the area.
Meanwhile, a 17-year-old candidate in Njoro Sub-county is sitting his examinations from police cells after he was charged with defiling another minor one week ago.
He was arrested last week and charged with defiling a girl, 11, at Sigotik Village in Nessuit area. The boy was remanded at a juvenile remand home after he failed to raise Sh400,000 bond with a surety of similar amount or an alternative cash bail of 300,000 needed for his release.
Meanwhile, Rift Valley regional coordinator George Natembeya said the government has put in place elaborate measures to ensure the integrity of the exams in the region.
“The government has deployed security officers across the region, including Samburu North and Baringo,” Mr Natembeya said when he supervised the opening and distribution of examination papers at the Nakuru Town West deputy county commissioner’s offices.
In Coast, Tana River County Director of Education James Nyagah warned centre managers and invigilators to ensure their phones were always in the custody of the centre supervisor. This has been recommended to curb cheating.
Reporting by Faith Nyamai, Charles Wanyoro, Regina Kinogu, Alex Njeru, Jacob Walter, George Munene, Manase Otsialo, Flora Koech, Stanley Kimuge, Barnabas Bii, Tom Matoke, Eric Matara, Waikwa Maina, Geoffrey Ondieki, Joseph Openda, John Njoroge, Victor Raballa, Derick Luvega, George Odiwuor, Lucy Mkanyika, Kalume Kazungu, Stephen Oduor and Siago Cece