Hundreds of candidates spent the first day of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations at temporary boarding facilities after they were relocated from their homes following bandit attacks.
The candidates from at least 20 schools will stay at the centres until they complete the tests on Wednesday. The most affected areas are in the Rift Valley and Upper Eastern regions, where violence has displaced families. Some areas in the coastal region, especially in Lamu County, also face security challenges.
“The government has taken precautions, especially in Baringo where we have challenges. We’re ensuring that children are converged in safe areas where they can stay and be fed and do the exams,” Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said Monday.
He was speaking at the Kakamega Central Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) container, where he supervised its opening.
Baringo County is the most affected, with at least eight examination centres – Sinoni, Chebininy, Chepkesin, Arabal, Kasiela, Kapendasum, Tuiyotich, and Kapkechir primary schools – being merged or their candidates moved to other schools. In Elgeyo-Marakwet, Kipkurot Primary School has been merged with Kapchelal Primary.
Speaking during the distribution of examination materials in Nakuru West, Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Maalim Mohamed said candidates would be provided with temporary boarding facilities and meals. “We have put in place measures to deal with any possible security threat including merging and transferring examination centres,” he said.
In Laikipia, County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri said adequate police officers had been deployed to guard examination centres in the volatile parts of the county.
Beef up security
Contingents of police officers from the special elite forces – Border Patrol Unit, Anti-Stock Theft Unit, General Service Unit, Administration Police and Rapid Deployment Unit – have been pitching camp in parts of Ol Moran, Githiga and Sossian wards to beef up security.
In Lamu West, Director of Education Joshua Kaaga said candidates at Pandanguo Primary School would sit the tests at Witu Primary School, about 21km away. County Commissioner Irungu Macharia said security patrols had been intensified to ensure the exams go on uninterrupted.
“Each examination centre has at least two police officers guarding it,” he said. “Volatile areas like Boni Forest and Kiunga on the Lamu-Somalia border will also be well secured throughout the examination period.”
Tana River County Director of Education Hassan Isak said some candidates could have missed the examination after going away with their livestock in search of pasture due to drought in the area, while others could have dropped out for other reasons.
GSU officers were deployed to ensure candidates are safe in Isiolo County. County Commissioner Geoffrey Omoding said the officers will patrol the affected areas and other hotspots. A helicopter is also on standby.
In Marsabit, County Commissioner Paul Rotich asked officers to be extra vigilant. Tension has gripped the county following three brutal attacks that have left two people, including a police officer, dead and 12 others injured.
Avoid close interactions
Nyeri County Police Commander Adiel Nyange told officers to refrain from close interactions with pupils.
“No officer will let his weapon be touched by a student. No officer will be photographed with a student,” he warned.
Prof Magoha warned officials administering the examinations against opening them before the official time.
“The exams have not been tampered with. I want to urge my officers in the field to focus on the integrity of the second paper. There is a group of teachers whom we’re watching, who want to confuse our children,” he said.
Knec boss David Njeng’ere concurred with the CS that the second-session paper is the one that is usually exposed ahead of the official time.
“If everybody applied the regulations the way we have advised them to, we would have very credible examination administration,” he said in Nairobi.
Reporting by David Muchunguh, Vitalis Kimutai, Mercy Koskey, Joseph Openda, Geoffrey Ondieki, Steve Njuguna, Waikwa Maina, Robert Kiplagat, Winnie Atieno, Lucy Mkanyika, Siago Cece Stephen Oduor, Maureen Ongala, Kalume Kazungu, Reginah Kinogu, Waweru Wairimu, Jacob Walter, Alex Njeru, Angeline Ochieng, Wycliffe Nyaberi, Ian Byron, George Odiwuor and Okong’o Oduya