No more KCPE, KCSE exams in hospital wards, lawmakers say

National Assembly Education Committee Chair Julius Melly

National Assembly's Education Committee Chair Julius Melly (centre) and other committee members address journalists on August 31, 2023, at the New Mitihani house in South C, Nairobi.

Photo credit: Billy Ogada | Nation Media Group

Candidates who are hospitalised or sick during the administration of national examinations will no longer be forced to write the papers in hospital once a new policy is implemented.

Instead, the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) will be expected to give the affected candidates supplementary examinations.

This was revealed yesterday by the National Assembly’s Education Committee, which toured the New Mitihani House to assess its construction progress and preparedness for the national exams, which begin at the end of next month.

However, this year’s candidates will not benefit from the changes, as the recommendation was made too late, when the exams had already been set.

There is no intervention for candidates who fall ill during the examination period and they are usually given the papers in hospital, while some miss out altogether.

“Some students may be sick and some girls may have given birth. We need to come up with a better policy. You can’t give exams to a sick person in hospital. You can’t give exams to someone who has just given birth. We’re talking to them about the remedies for this and looking at a recourse to do additional testing in the future,” said the committee chairperson Julius Melly.

“It’s wrong to give an examination to a sick person; someone who has had an operation and is on medication. It’s unfair, it’s unkind, it’s inhumane, but in terms of the timetable, I don’t think it’s going to happen this year, but we’ve given them a directive on that,” Mr Melly added.

He expressed satisfaction with the council’s preparation for the upcoming exams and the measures taken to curb cheating, including having centre managers, who are school heads, only collect one paper in the morning and the other in the afternoon to minimise cases of early exposure.

Mr Melly said the use of social media would be closely monitored to curb the spread of misinformation that could undermine the examination process.

Over 1.2 million candidates registered for the last Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam and over 900,000 others will sit the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exam.

“This committee has committed that in the next supplementary budget, we’ll make sure that examiners are given first priority in every exam that’s going to be conducted. Immediately they clear the marking, they will be paid in no more than two months because they have done a duty and it’s against the Public Finance Management Act for the government to procure the services of an examiner without having the resources,” Mr Melly said.

The MPs also recommended that the number of marking centres be increased to decongest the few in use, following complaints from teachers.

The committee gave a clean bill of health to the New Mitihani House, which has been under construction for more than 30 years and has gobbled up more than Sh3 billion against an initial budget of Sh248.9 million.

“It’s a shame that a building that was started when I was in high school is still unfinished when I am the CEO of the council,” said Dr David Njeng’ere during an earlier meeting.

Tower C of the complex has been completed and occupied, while work is ongoing on the fifth and sixth floors of Tower B. The MPs said they would allocate Sh350 million to complete Tower A and all other outstanding work within a year.

“The current team at Knec seems committed to delivering on its mandate, especially on this building. The other teams that were there before were not very open about the kind of expenditure required for completion,” said Malulu Injendi, the committee’s deputy chairperson.

Previously, Knec staff were housed at National Housing Corporation House, Aga Khan Walk, Mitihani House along Dennis Pritt Road, Caledonia and another building along Likoni Road in Industrial Area.