The countdown to this month's Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) is set to start tomorrow after a meeting of top government officials to plan the conduct of the examinations.
Education cabinet secretary, George Magoha, will first hold a meeting with his colleagues Fred Matiang'i (Interior) and Joe Mucheru (ICT), the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) acting CEO Mercy Karogo and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) CEO Nancy Macharia at the Kenya School of Government from 8.30 a.m.
Afterwards, they will meet regional directors of education, county directors of education, sub-county education officers, county commissioners and their deputies to brief them on the administration of the exams. Other senior National Government Administration Officers (NGAO) will also attend the meetings.
"The meeting has been scheduled to discuss the strategies to be employed during the conduct of 2020 KCPE and KCSE examinations," an invitation letter signed former Basic Education principal secretary, Belio Kipsang reads. The new Education PS, Julius Jwan, will attend alongside Karanja Kibicho and Jerome Ochieng from Interior and ICT ministries respectively.
After the meeting, the county directors and sub-county education officers will be issued with padlocks and keys to secure the containers (distribution centres) where examination materials will be stored. They will also be informed of the distribution schedule, logistics and measures put in place to curb cheating. In the 2019 examinations, the materials were distributed from Knec headquarters twice weekly. A total of 479 distribution containers were used then.
Prof Magoha is expected to lay out plans to ensure timely delivery of examination materials to all parts of the country. This will pose challenges as rains are expected to pound different regions during the examination period. Previously, helicopters have been deployed in areas that are inaccessible.
The Nation understands that Knec is also finalising on new rules and guidelines that will govern this year's exams, which will done under the cloud of the Covid-19 pandemic. The guidelines will also inform examination officials about how to handle an unprecedented number of candidates who are pregnant.
They will also give direction on candidates whose examination centres were closed following flooding, especially in the Rift Valley. Knec has advised that such centres be merged with the ones closest to them. Also to be merged are centres with less than 15 candidates.
For this year's KCPE and KCSE, about 186,000 officials will be deployed as examination centre managers (technically the heads of institutions), supervisors, invigilators, markers, security officers and drivers.
Additionally, NGAO, ministry of interior officials and those from ICT will be involved in the monitoring of the examinations. Cabinet secretaries and PSs from various ministries as well as heads of semi-autonomous government agencies will also be in the field monitoring the conduct of the exams.
The KCPE candidates will hold their rehearsal on Friday, March 19 2021; which is the closing date for the other learners. They will begin the examinations the following week on Monday, completing on March 24, 2021.
KCSE candidates will have their rehearsals on March 25 2021 and begin the examinations the following day. The exams will go on until April 21 2021, when the last group will write their practical papers.
The exams will be administered against the backdrop of thousands of candidates missing as schools remain unable to account for their whereabouts since schools opened. Many girls have been married, given birth or are pregnant.
Meanwhile, learners in Grade 4 will, from next week, undergo a national formative assessment, which will assess things that they have learnt so far in their current Grade. This will be the first such test in the competency based curriculum (CBC) where the learners' scores will be stored by Knec, alongside subsequent assessments and cumulatively, account for their final score when they exit primary school in Grade 6 to join junior secondary school.
The assessment will begin on Monday and should be completed by March 19 2021, when schools are scheduled to close. According to the recommendations released recently by a taskforce on the implementation of CBC, placement into secondary will be decided by a combination of formative and cumulative (summative) assessments.
The tests will be administered and marked teachers at the school level and then the scores uploaded onto a portal on the Knec website.
The school-based assessments that learners will undertake in Grade 4,5 and 6 will each be weighted at 20 per cent while the final one at the end of Grade 6 will be weighted at 40 per cent.
The assessment beginning on Monday has been set by Knec. However, for learners currently in Grade 3, their assessment while in Grade 4 will be split into two parts, each contributing 10 per cent of the marks. One will come from the classroom assessments that they do during the year while Knec will provide assessment tools for the other part.
"To guide the process, Knec will be uploading the 2020 age-based and intermediate level stage-based assessment tools by March 7 2021 to access and use," the guidelines sent on Monday by Dr Karogo to head teachers and sub-county directors of education reads.
There have been concerns about the credibility of the school-based assessment given the country's dark history of cheating in examinations.
Grade 4 learners will complete their academic year this month, since together with KCPE and KCSE candidates they opened earlier when other learners were at home owing to the Covid-19 pandemic shutdown of schools. The candidate classes will stay out of school until July 26, 2021, as they wait for learners in other classes to complete their third term.