Fury as pupils miss exams in Kenya

November 10, 2009 12:00 am

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 10 – Twelve Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) candidates have missed out on the national examination that kicked off on Tuesday morning, after they discovered that they were not registered despite paying for it.

Francis Onyango one of the students at Pumwani Child Survival Education and Rehabilitation School told Capital News that when the invigilators came to the school on Monday morning (the rehearsal day), they read only nine names leaving out the other twelve.

“We called our headmaster, he disconnected our calls. We called again, he then switched off his phone, the police should arrest him,” he said.

When Capital News arrived at the school situated at the centre of a slum in Nairobi’s Pumwani estate, the students and teachers had still not lost hope.

They tried to make phone calls to different education offices seeking to be allowed to sit the examination, but to no avail.

Faridah Mohammed recounted the saddest day of her life, “I was expecting to sit the exam, but now I have been told I can’t sit for it. Our names have been checked and they are missing from the list,” she said adding that she would now wait till next year to sit the exam without attending school.

“We have gone to the chief, we were taken round, we were asked to give our receipts which we did, they even took our parents’ numbers but still we cannot do the exam,” said Victor Otwala who is also affected.

A parent to one of the candidates and who is also the chairman of the school board said the headmaster had since gone missing.

“I went to his house in Mathare. I was told he left on Sunday night, up to now we can’t find him,” he narrated. “We had prepared our children well, we bought everything for them, we are shocked.”

Since the private school is sponsored, the children pay Sh250 per month. Some of them have to miss classes during the months that they cannot afford the Sh250.

Children’s righat activist Jackline Wangari who visited the school blamed the government for the fiasco and said the Ministry of Education should bear responsibility as it is the one that registers and oversees the smooth running of all schools.

The activist said it was also up to the Ministry to license private schools that meet the expected standards.

“This is the work of the Minsiter, the Assistant, the Permanent Sectretary – this continues to the bottom! The work of the parents is to pay, the children to study, the teachers to teach, how relevant is the Education Ministry then?” she queried.

She said the 12 candidates should be given a chance to sit a special examination. She also expressed fears that since the students came from very poor backgrounds it was hard for the parents to afford them in school for another year.

“Look at this environment (their neighbourhood). Alcohol, crime, prostitution, and this poverty, these children are very discouraged, what do you think is likely to happen to them? Their parents have made it the hard way to push them up to where they are now,” she said.

Ms Wangari also said she could not understand the government’s purpose of pushing people to go to school then end up crashing their dreams with one examination due to incompetent systems that can be blamed on school owners and education officers.

Their case came few weeks after several form four candidates also missed their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examination (KCSE) despite paying the requisite fees.

When contacted for comment over the KCSE issue, Education Minister Sam Ongeri told Capital News that it was neither the Ministry’s nor Kenya National Examination Council’s responsibility to check if students were registered.


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