MOMBASA, November 11 – Thirty seven inmates at the Shimo la Tewa prison were among 600,000 students who began their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations countrywide on Tuesday.
Some of the inmates are on death row but were optimistic that they will pass the examinations.
“The prison warders are keeping a close watch on the candidates at the prison some of whom are serving sentences ranging from five years and above,” the Shimo La Tewa Officer in charge Wanini Kireri.
Seven out of the inmates are women, according to Ms Kireri.
The Coast province has 1,614 primary schools whose candidates will be doing their finals examinations in the next three days.
Out of the 49,316 candidates in the province, 28,426 are boys while girls are 20,890.
In Kwanza, pupils of Tembeleo primary school were forced to sit their KCPE examinations at the neighbouring Namanjalala primary school, after floods submerged part of their school buildings.
Kwanza district education officer Irene Nyagau said that all 29 pupils of the school took their exams without any further difficulties as they were safely accommodated at Namanjalala centre.
Mrs Nyagau said that the district had 92 exam centres.
Trans-Nzoia Red Cross district Coordinator Mr George Oloo said that his team was monitoring the situation to ensure that the exams went on without any problems in the area, where at least 200 families had been displaced by floods.
In Tran-Nzoia East district, the area education officer Mark Luchivya said that exams started without any hitch with most pupils taking their first paper at 8.30am.
Mr Luchivya said that the district has 103 exam centres with 4,151 pupils.
An earlier plan to shift some school around the notorious Kabolet forest was shelved at the eleventh hour after security was beefed up in the area.
At Nairobi’s Moi Avenue Primary school, the mathematics paper started at half past eight after the students were subjected to a close inspection before being allowed into the examination rooms.
All the 85 candidates were in high spirits and exuded confidence over a positive outcome of their results.
"I feel I am ready. I am going to pass this exam," Ms Miriam Wanjiru a student at the school said.
"I am very relaxed. I would like to tell my fellow students not to fear the exams but to be cool," Mike Maina, another candidate said.
The head teacher of the school Eunice Mlati told Capital News that the students had been well prepped and had high expectations on the outcome.
"We have prepared the candidates well. We have confidence that they are going to do well," Mrs Mlati pointed out.
Students at Jamhuri Primary school were equally confident.
"As the saying goes, hard work pays. If we work hard, by the end of the year, the results will make us and our families happy," George Owino who is also a candidate explained.
Speaking at the same time, the headmistress Agnes Kimani attributed this confidence to the hard work put in by everyone involved.
"We feel we are prepared and we are trusting God that we’ll do better than last year," enthused Mrs Kimani. "There was a slight improvement of the trial KCPE, and we feel that they are going to do better this year."
Meanwhile, Westlands Primary school manager Stephen Meroka stated that there was no delay in starting the examination on Tuesday.
"We started in the morning, we started on time the papers were brought in time and we did not have a problem of insecurity like last year," Mr Meroka stated.
The Kenya National Examination Council said that it will use over Sh100 million for security officers to minimize incidences of irregularities during the exams.
Other initiatives by KNEC include the transportation of papers three days in advance instead of the previous period of two weeks.
Primary Education is the first phase of the national 8:4:4 system of Education.
The course lasts eight years and ensures the provision of a more functional and practical education that largely meets the needs of the majority of the children who terminate their formal education at class eight.
The system has however been criticised as ineffectual.