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Girl tops KCPE exams

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 30 – Monica Mutinda is this year’s top student in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations.

The student from Mombasa’s High Gate Academy was declared the best candidate in the 2008 KCPE exams by Education Minister Sam Ongeri.

She scored 460 out of 500 marks.

Soon after receiving the news, Monica told reporters that it was all due to sheer hard work and went on to say that she wants to be a doctor when she completes her education.

Over 695,000 primary school pupils countrywide sat the national examinations that will determine their entry to secondary schools.

The exams were done in 2,057 centres in public schools and 196 private schools while a special exam centre was set up in Eldoret for some of the candidates who were displaced by post election violence.

The exams were also administered in 416 candidates in Southern Sudan where the top candidate scored 296 marks out of 500.

The minister directed ministry officials to investigate cases of absenteeism by registered candidates which had risen from 6,605 compared to 6,185 in 2007.

Rift Valley and Kisumu with 1,747 and 1,297 respectively – which were the bedrock of the post poll chaos – recorded the highest numbers of absent candidates.

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Mr Ongeri said the absenteeism was not due to the post election violence instead insisting that it was due to a ministry efforts to crackdown on cases of impersonation.

He said massive irregularities were reported in five refugee examination camps where all results have now been cancelled.

The incidents occurred in Daadab, Abdiaziz, Halane, Central and Alleys.

"We had a very disturbing form of examination irregularity in the history of this examination. In this centres, the candidates of KCPE examination ungovernable," he said.

"Some candidates refused to surrender their mobile phones which they were using during the exam.  This was followed by further disturbances when crowds and marauding youths shouted answers to candidates and engaged the examination security personnel in running battles when trying to stop them from interfering with the examination process", added the education minister.

He said the despite the cases in the refugee camps, there was major drop in the number of examination irregularities with 1,835 cases from 65 centres compared to 1,728 from 74 centres last year.

Nyanza province had the highest number of reported cases (19) followed by North Eastern (16) Rift Valley (11) and Coast (8). Western, Central and Nairobi each had 1 reported case.

And staying with education matters, the government has now called crisis talks with the Kenya National Union of Teachers after the union issued a strike threat yesterday following the collapse of pay negotiations.

The meeting will take place next Tuesday ahead of the strike set for the 19th of January.

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Mr Ongeri has asked for a full report from the chairman of the Teachers Service Remuneration Committee before he issues the government’s position on the dispute.

On Monday, KNUT secretary-general Lawrence Majali said they had resorted to strike action because of "insensitive government negotiators."

The union wants a 35 per cent minimum pay raise for all teachers.

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