The fate of Form Four and Standard Eight national examinations remained unclear yesterday after the two teachers’ unions said they would not allow teachers to supervise them.
Both the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) separately directed their members to keep off the national examinations, raising fears that the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination scheduled to start on Monday might not take off altogether.
Both KCSE and the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams are supervised by teachers. Those in public schools have gone on strike, demanding the implementation of the 50-60 per cent salary increase awarded to them by the Court of Appeal last month.
Despite the boycott threats, the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) played down fears that teachers could refuse to mark the examinations.
Knec Chief Executive Officer Joseph Kivilu said adequate arrangements had been made with teachers to ensure that marking goes on without interruptions.
Candidates taking agriculture, computer studies, art and design and metal work are scheduled to be examined between Monday September 28 and October 6.
Those studying French, German, Arabic, Music, Building and Construction projects, Home Science Practicals and Kenya sign language (practical skills) will also be examined during the same period.
Yesterday, Kuppet Chairman Omboko Milemba asked science teachers to boycott the examination.
“We are on strike and we ask our members not to participate in the examination exercise at all,” he said.
Similar sentiments were echoed by Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion, who said teachers had withdrawn all services to the education sector.
Mr Sossion instead asked the government to postpone the examinations, arguing that candidates were ill prepared. However, Dr Kivilu maintained that teachers will be in schools to supervise the examination.
“We are this Friday starting to train about 265 assessors for Monday’s practical examinations,” he said and added that 35,434 supervisors and 91,387 invigilators will be involved in the marking of both KCPE and KCSE exams. He, however, refused to disclose what measures Knec had put in place to ensure that the examination goes on, in the event that teachers make good their threat to boycott them.
According to him, Knec had a special arrangement with teachers to mark national examinations and this would not be affected by the strike.
English composition and Insha are the highest paying papers at Sh65 per script, according to last year’s payment schedules. The lowest paying is history at Sh45 per paper. Teachers are also paid between Sh10,000 and Sh12,000 for invigilating and supervising the writing of the exams.
Traditionally, examination marking centres are spread across the country, with the exception of northeastern and the Coast, which are deemed not conducive for marking of exams due to the weather.
A total of 1.4 million candidates are expected to sit the two national exams this year. Out of this, 525,802 will sit for KCSE whose oral part starts on October 12. A total of 937,467 candidates will sit for the KCPE exam between November 10 and 12.
The delay in disbursing about Sh3 billion to schools could also complicate the matter because public school headteachers have lamented that they have no money to buy specimens, chemicals and other materials needed for the practical exams.
Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi last week maintained that the exams will not be postponed.
“Students who will be sitting for the examination completed their syllabus in second term. They were to use third term for revisions,” said Prof Kaimenyi.
The Cabinet has since directed Knec to continue with preparations of the exams as scheduled.
At the same time, Education Secretary Leah Rotich confirmed that the government was yet to release cash for free and subsidised education in public schools.
“We are only waiting for the National Treasury to release the cash,” she said.
This financial year, the government allocated Sh32.7 billion for free day secondary education and Sh14.1 billion for free primary education.
By Ouma Wanzala