In the recent past top officials from the Education ministry, including Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, principal secretary Belio Kipsang and chair of Kenya National Examinations Council George Magoha have been briefing Kenyans on preparations, gains and frustrations as this year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations draw nearer.
Of course the minister has been emphasising the same old rules, albeit to make candidates remember the seriousness of the exams, in case, I presume, they had forgotten. The public have been briefed about areas where cheating is likely to take place, again I presume, based on past records.
Rules on the use of mobile phones have been emphasised and centre managers are the only ones allowed to use phones during exam times.
With teachers already kept out of school during the same period for fear they may aid in cheating, communication as a probable conduit is being dealt with; hopefully, successfully.
However, it should be noted that these rules are not anything new but even up to last year, results were cancelled. Last year, the areas that were noted as 'hot spots' did better and irregularities were reported in other areas.
By evaluation, it means the rules plus the hard talks are not the solutions to exam irregularities. It's possible head teachers and principals will wake up in the morning and do as required but loopholes still abound.
Exam cheating is an elaborate process that does not end with parents being warned against visiting their children in boarding schools; majority of the candidates at KCSE are day scholars who interact with their parents daily.
Being a security issue, constant evaluation should be conducted on the measures to identify the weak areas for improvement.
Measures like surveillance may deter but will not sort out the problem, not in any two circles. Allocations given to manual surveillance could be invested in better technology, to achieve the same objects with more efficiency.
Equally wars are not won through the media, and the exam thieves are quite aware of this.
Learn to hold each person individually responsible. Let the students whose results are cancelled be arraigned in court, charged and denied bail before being sent to jail so that it's the students who will resist the attempt, aware of the consequences.
When we are sure schools are planning to cheat, let's name them so that they open their doors to public scrutiny, to cleanse or condemn them. Blanket statements are more political and populist.
Let us talk less and act more. One can remember that there was a time when we only came to learn who chaired the KNEC Board when we saw his signature on our certificates. It will be the joy of every teacher and principal when results are credible and students learn the virtue of learning.
Tasma Saka, Homa Bay