Members of the public and other stakeholders on Monday, March 20, exposed loopholes that led to examination malpractices during the 2022 Kenya Certificate for Secondary Education (KCSE).
Addressing the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Education, members of the public blamed the rising cases of KCSE cheating on the underpayment of teachers.
Explaining how the avenue was used to perpetuate exam malpractices, members of the public told MPs that little remuneration remitted to teachers involved in exam marking encouraged manipulation as it provided room for bribery.
Ranking of schools also emerged among the leading causes of exam cheating in the country. Participants from Nyeri and Nakuru Counties told the MPs that the obsession by teachers to record exemplary results than other schools directly encouraged cheating.
During the hearing, the lawmakers heard that students' desire to record high grades also fuelled cheating as others resolved to use outlawed schemes to obtain examination materials.
" Cheating in our schools is partly fueled by the desire of learners and their teachers to pass exams with flying colours. The obsession with being ranked top is unhealthy and is to blame for the rise in exam malpractices," Nancy Njeri, one of the participants, told the MPs at Ruring'u, Nyeri County.
Their observations regarding the 2022 KCSE exam results followed a decision by MPs to open a public inquiry into the state of education in the country.
Concerns were raised over high grades recorded by some students and schools in some sections of the country.
"The inquiry's terms of reference are to carry out a comprehensive analysis of KCSE examination results for the years 2019 to 2022 to determine whether there is a trend capable of providing plausible interpretations that can lead to conclusions on whether there was cheating as reported," Clerk of the National Assembly Samuel Njoroge explained.
"To examine whether there was cheating and other malpractices in the examination, how they were arranged, the parties involved and extent of involvement, and the parties that bear the greatest responsibility," the notice added.
The team was expected to hold public participation forums in Embu, Uasin Gishu, Kakamega and Machakos County to evaluate other causes of exam cheating.
MPs were also set to engage education stakeholders on steps to curb examination cheating, and other malpractices to end their adequacy.
Other areas to be discussed included the efficiency and effectiveness of examination management officers from Kenya National Examination Council headquarters deployed to schools and how they were involved.
Lawmakers will further determine whether there is a need for legislative measures, including reviewing penalties on examination malpractices to enhance deterrence.
Education CS, Ezekiel Machogu watered down claims that the KCSE 2022 exams were marred with irregularities. The CS responded to critics who questioned why most schools posted unusual mean scores, with deviations of up to four points in their mean score.
"We devised a mechanism for transferring accountability to the personal level. We said the centre manager will be personally accountable for any irregularities. We designed a form for security personnel to sign how things went," Machogu refuted allegations of exam malpractices.