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Trouble over Kenyan exam marking

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 8 – The marking of this year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education papers has been thrown into jeopardy after examiners threatened to boycott work protesting meagre allowances against projected long working hours.

The 369 examiners have gathered at the Nairobi School where they were expected to start marking the papers any time this week.

“You come tomorrow (Tuesday) and see if we will have started work,” one of the examiners told reporters.

Top officials of Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) later said an agreement had been reached with the examiners and expected work to go on smoothly.

A senior deputy secretary in charge of examination administration Edda Muiruri however termed the demands ‘illegitimate’.

The KNEC official said the examiners had contravened the conditions laid out in their letters of offer which specified the rate they were supposed to get per script.

“At that point you have an option.  If you feel that the rate we are offering at that particular time is not good for you, you can decide not to take up the marking,” she said.

She promised them that the Council would effect new marking rates next year.

“As a Council we have actually been looking at the rates. In one of the briefs we had with the senior examiners we had told them that we will effect the increment next year. But you have to look at the paper in terms of the marking and other aspects before you can decide how much you can increase in a particular paper,” Ms Muiruri told reporters.

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The examiners downed their tools citing discrepancies in payment rates with those marking Paper I (essays) being paid Sh33 per paper while those marking Paper II (Comprehension and Literature) getting Sh50 per paper.

However, Ms Muiruri explained that the rates were determined by the length of the papers being marked. 

“For example, If you look at the marking of Kiswahili Paper I (essay) will be different from the Paper II (Comprehension) because may be there are other aspects which are being questioned and that is why you will find that you cant have the same rate across board.”

Most examiners gathered in small groups at the Nairobi School’s assembly ground, while KNEC officials met their seniors in the Administration Block.

The deputy secretary in charge of marking Gladys Igolo was non-committal about when the marking would commence saying that the examiners were still being taken through co-ordination and orientation.

She further said that examiners determine the work schedule as a group.

“The decision to work long hours is made by them.  No one forces them to extend past the official working hours (9am-5pm) because the marking will still be finished,” said Ms Igolo. 


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