Quality fears in rushed KCSE release

Sing’ore Girls from Elgeyo Marakwet County emerged top nationally. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Sing’ore Girls from Elgeyo Marakwet County emerged top nationally. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The hurried marking of this year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exam has raised queries, with some of the examiners expressing fear that it could have affected the quality of the final result.

The KCSE results were released Wednesday, barely three days after marking of the final papers over the weekend.
Three teachers who were involved in marking the exams painted a picture of military-like conditions the examiners were subjected to in marking centres.

The exam was marked in a record 10 days having started on December 7, less than half the period it ordinarily takes to mark the scripts. The examiners narrated how they put in long hours marking the papers from 6am and 10pm, while in other years they worked between 7am and 7pm.

They were not allowed to break for Jamhuri Day or even take off on their worship days as has been the case in the past.

President Uhuru Kenyatta had ordered Education secretary Fred Matiang’i to ensure the results were for the first time ever released before Christmas, which saw the ministry increase the number of examiners. The teachers were only given a 30-minute tea break and one hour for lunch.

“Marking at a record time is okay but the fear is that we are compromising quality since we have to hurry and do it under a lot of pressure in order to beat the deadline and no one wants to lose the job,” said an examiner who did not want to be quoted for fear of reprisal. His two colleagues interviewed by the Business Daily expressed similar sentiments.

Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) secretary-general Akelo Misori in an interview Wednesday said the rushed marking could affect the credibility of results.

“We cannot hurry to release the results without proper audit and celebrate mass failure of students,” said Mr Misori.

Only about 70,000 out of over 600,000 students who sat for the exam scored university entry points. Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) chairman George Magoha however defended the results, saying marking was done with due diligence.

Education principal secretary Belio Kipsang  said use of technology had reduced the time needed to mark, review and release the exams.

During marking, examiners are normally put in a pool of seven with a team leader.

For every 10 scripts they mark, the team leader has to go through two which are picked randomly to check if they have been marked well.

The marking error is -2/+ 2 and if an examiner goes beyond it he is forced to remark the script.

Team leaders  work under assistant examiners who also go through the  answer sheets to ensure that they are marked well.

Scripts with errors are put together and a council member checks the corrections before marks are recorded.

Under the guidelines, examiners  are  not allowed to carry away answer scripts, marking schemes and any other materials from marking rooms or centres.

They are also not allowed to bring in unauthorised materials.

All marking is done in specified rooms with authority to mark extra scripts given by the chief examiner when an examiner or team has satisfactorily cleared their scripts allocation.