Tragedy hit the beginning of Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations yesterday as a boy died and a girl was reportedly raped by her school's principal.
Keith Mong'are, 17, a candidate at Gesiaga Secondary in Nyamira collapsed in the examination hall moments after sitting the Mathematics paper in the morning and later died in hospital. His father Joshua Ongaga said he suffered a heart-related ailment.
In Wajir, Habaswein Mixed Secondary School principal Idle Abdi was arrested on the eve of the examinations after a medical report of the victim, 18, showed she was raped.
The girl said Mr Abdi had given her a lift while she was going to visit her mother. She said she lost consciousness while in the car only to find herself later dumped next to an abandoned borehole. Special arrangement was made for the girl to sit the examination in another school.
Drama ensued at the Wajir Law Courts where the teacher was arraigned yesterday as his supporters attempted to prevent journalists from taking his photos. He was freed on bond pending the mention of the case on November 27.
Elsewhere, scores of students gave birth during the examinations while others sat the tests in hospitals and prisons.
Two candidates sat their examinations at the Baringo County Referral Hospital in Kabarnet after giving birth hours before the test. The two who delivered before the start of the examinations were from Kaptimbor and Timboiywo day secondary schools.
Two other candidates did their examinations from Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital after experiencing labour pains on Sunday. Dr Enock Ondari, the hospital's chief executive officer, said one of the students was referred from a local dispensary and later delivered a premature baby. "The baby is responding well, but we have put him in an incubator while the mother is in good condition," said Dr Ondari, adding that the other candidate had a normal delivery and was ready for discharge.
Another candidate from a school in Imenti north, Meru County, was doing the examinations from a maternity ward in Chuka County Referral Hospital.
Another candidate from Mwaragania Secondary School sat the examinations from Kuresoi dispensary after she gave birth on Monday morning as was her colleague, 17, from Sokoro Girls Secondary School in Elburgon.
One candidate, 20, from Koige Secondary School in Kuresoi North missed the examinations after she got married, according to area Deputy County Commissioner Felix Wafula. In Narok, at least 26 candidates missed the examinations due to early pregnancies and others were married off. Two others delivered before the examinations and were sitting the papers yesterday at Ololung'a hospital.
In Tharaka-Nithi County, a sick candidate from Ndumbini Secondary School did the examinations from a ward at Consolata Hospital in Chuka town.
In Nakuru, seven candidates took their examinations from various hospitals where they were admitted. Five of them were admitted at Nakuru Level Five Hospital, suffering from various ailments.
Desmond Ochieng, 21, of Omware Secondary School in Awendo, Migori, wrote his first papers from Migori prison after he was arrested three weeks ago. "The student has a pending case for stealing a motorcycle. The prison has made adequate preparations to ensure he sits all his examinations," said a prison official.
At the Naivasha Maximum Security Prison, a murder convict, Jacob Waruhi, 47, will be among candidates sitting the examination. Welfare officer Kodeck Mose said the number of inmates registered for the examinations had reduced from 26 last year to the current 17.
It was not all gloom as a candidate at Emusire Boys in Vihiga who had gone missing for a week turned up for the examination. His father Michael Osuchia did not disclose where the boy had been after he fled school a week ago after learning he was to be suspended for misconduct.
In Mumias West, 50-year-old Musa Wanalo was among 27 private candidates who sat the examinations at Muslims Primary School centre.
On irregularities, police in Mandera are investigating a case where a candidate attempted to bribe an examination officer, Mr Julius Odhiambo, to allow a third party to sit the examinations on his behalf.
While witnessing the start of the examinations in Nyeri, Teachers Service Commission (TSC) boss Nancy Macharia said to allow students to join universities and other tertiary colleges, concerted efforts were needed to curb pregnancy among school girls. Last year, 71 teachers were sacked and blacklisted over sexual assault allegations. "Those teachers cannot teach anywhere TSC is required to give reference. We will not hesitate to do the same for those found to have been responsible," she said.
At the same time, education officials have raised concerns over children's involvement in crime after two sat their examinations behind bars. The two sat their examinations at Nyeri Juvenile remand where they are currently held over robbery with violence claims.
Officials said no cases of irregularities were reported, with Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang calling for more vigilance during the examinations.
Reported by Bruhan Makong, Nicholas Komu, Manase Otsialo, Alex Njeru, Magati Obebo, Benson Ayienda, Vitalis Kimutai, Derick Luvega, Vivere Nandiemo, Shaban Makokha, Victor Otieno, Wycliff Kipsang', Florah Koech, Tom Matoke and Sammy Lutta