The forthcoming national examinations for Grade 6, Standard 8 and Form 4 learners will be administered and marked by the highest number of teachers so far.
The examinations will also involve the highest number of candidates in the history of the country, totalling over three million, while the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) will deploy more than 250,000 teachers as centre managers, supervisors, invigilators and examiners.
The commission deployed 242,406 teachers for the delayed 2020 examinations which were administered between March and April this year.
The unprecedented three sets of examinations in basic education will also present a tough test for new Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu Ombaki, who will be expected to deliver credible examinations exactly one month after being sworn into office yesterday.
Grade 6 learners will sit the inaugural Kenya Primary School Education Assessment (KPSEA) ahead of their transition to junior secondary school in January. This is the first cohort under the competency-based curriculum (CBC).
They will have rehearsal on Friday, November 25 and the assessment from Monday, November 28 to Wednesday, November 30.
The assessment will run concurrently with the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations for candidates in Standard 8.
This is the second-last KCPE exam, with the last 8-4-4 cohort set to complete primary school next year.
The Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations will begin on Friday, December 2 and run until December 23.
The total number of candidates is also set to rise from the 2021 edition that was administered in March, when 1,214,031 candidates sat the KCPE, while 826,807 sat the KCSE exams.
Although the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) has not yet released the official data, the TSC, in its latest edition of Image magazine puts the number of learners in Grade 6 at 1,268,830.
The KCPE candidature is expected to be about 1,230,000 while those in Form 4 are about 880,000.
Last week, the CEO of Knec, Dr David Njeng’ere, briefed the chief examiners in Nairobi on the conduct of the examinations. Last month, the chief executive of the TSC, Ms Nancy Macharia, instructed sub-county directors to identify and vet suitable teachers to be involved in the exams.
“You are required to identify, nominate and vet centre managers, supervisors and invigilators,” reads the circular.
Further, one supervisor will be in charge of at least 200 candidates while an invigilator will manage 20 candidates.
Heads of institutions function as centre managers, while the supervisors and invigilators come from other schools. Only teachers working for Knec will be involved.
Knec will be hard-pressed to curb irregularities amid reports that fraudsters have already started circulating information that they can sell examination materials to candidates.
Dr Njeng’ere warned candidates against falling victim to the fraudsters and assured them that all exam materials are in safe custody.
“None of those images being circulated are genuine examination papers. I challenge anyone to present an examination paper before the exam date,” he said
In the 2021 KCSE exam, 441 candidates had their results cancelled for irregularities ranging from impersonation, use of mobile phones, collusion and sneaking unauthorised material into the examination rooms, among others.
The KPSEA will comprise multiple-choice questions only because the writing is covered by the school-based assessments.
Candidates will be issued personalised mark sheets that bear their names and assessment numbers.
The summative assessment at the end of Grade 6 was introduced by a task force that had been appointed to advise on the implementation of the CBC.
During a national conference in August 2019, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that there would be no national examinations at the end of primary school.
This was also the thinking of the framers of the CBC who only recommended such an assessment at the end of senior secondary (Grade 12).
President William Ruto has appointed a Presidential Working Party on education reforms to give more recommendations on changes in the education sector.
The transition to junior secondary in January presents a challenge for the government because of the lack of adequate infrastructure in many secondary schools, as well as low staffing.
Last week when he appeared before Parliament for vetting, Mr Machogu said the government intends to employ 30,000 teachers in January to deal with the shortage. Dr Ruto has promised to employ 58,000 teachers during the first year of his administration.
The working party will start touring the country collecting views from the public next week.
It is also expected to resolve the debate on the domicile of junior secondary school.
The Kenya National Union of Teachers has been calling for it to be domiciled in primary schools.