, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 24 – The 1,171 candidates found to have cheated in last year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations can now breathe a sigh of relief after Education Minister Sam Ongeri revoked a controversial ban barring them from resitting the exams for a period of two years.
The minister told Parliament on Wednesday that the order was irregular and urged the exam council to come up with alternative punishment.
“I have examined the issue of the ban and noted that it has been irregularly imposed and subsequently I have instructed the national examinations council to withdraw the two-year ban with immediate effect and issue a circular to this effect,” said the Minister.
“The Kenya National Examination Council Act was last reviewed in 1981 and you will agree with me that since then the examination environment has changed a great deal. Subsequently I am in the process of comprehensively reviewing this Act and will soon be tabling the same before the House for action,” he told Parliament.
This follows a decision by the Kenya National Examination Council that cheats would not be allowed to sit any examinations for two years.
MPs welcomed the minister’s move saying it was timely.
The rule barring candidates who engage in examination malpractices was aimed at ensuring the integrity of the national exams which has been at stake due to cheating cases.
During last year\’s KCSE examination, there were 1,171 cheating candidates down from 1,419 in 2008. A total of 69 schools were affected by the cancellation.
Magena Secondary School in Gucha District topped the list, with 180 cases of cheating. The council revealed that candidates smuggled notes into exam rooms. Others used mobile telephones to cheat, and the unscrupulous tried to make a kill by selling fake KCSE papers to students and parents.
Professor Ongeri told Parliament that the council and the government would employ new measures to deal with candidates smuggled notes into exam rooms.
Prof Ongeri said he was disturbed that candidates continued to cheat despite consistent efforts to stem the vice.
Despite being searched, some candidates still smuggled notes, textbooks and mobile phones into examination rooms, he said, forcing the government to form a special team to investigate irregularities.
22 suspects have been arrested and charged in court.
Nine people, among them three candidates and two students, were arrested for distribution and handling of fake examination papers.