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Knut: 2016 KCSE marking scheme was designed to fail students

The marking schemes used in last year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations were deliberately made for the candidates to fail, the umbrella union of teachers has told MPs.

Top officials of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) told the National Assembly’s Committee on Education to question the Education Ministry and the examinations agency to unravel the reason an unusually high number of students failed the secondary school examination.

They told the MPs that the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) used raw marks to assign grades instead of the system previously used, where grades were based on performance.

This, said Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion, amounted to an irregular change of the policy that MPs should question both KNEC and the Education Ministry about.

Knut based its assertions on a study of the process through which the examinations were administered, marked and graded that had the confidential input of examiners, who are usually teachers.

“We can tell you, scientifically, that these fellows colluded to fail students. We are telling you, the education system is on fire. It’s rotting. We are not naming names but we’re telling you to come and help,” said Mr Sossion.

MARKING SCHEME

Accompanied by officials of the other union, the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet), Mr Sossion asked the committee to audit the setting of the examinations, the creation of the marking scheme and how grades were awarded.

Unlike the past, when marking schemes were prepared after consultations between the Chief Examiner, Assistant Chief Examiner and Team Leaders, examiners were not allowed to consult. In some subjects, a pre-determined highest mark to be given was set, the union said it had found out from its study. They cited cases where questions were repeated from past papers but the marks assigned arbitrarily allocated.

The teachers’ union main grouse is with the opaque manner in which they say the examination was handled.

Their issues ranged from the decision by the authorities to take away all the question papers to the manner in which the results were announced by the ministry, with Education Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i calling an impromptu meeting at Shimo la Tewa late December.

They said that while the measures taken to stem cheating had worked, and deserved to be applauded, the marking  and awarding of grades was done in an unusual manner. This resulted in an unusually high number of students scoring D, D- and E. In the Kenyan education system, attaining these grades often means the end of formal education.

Things were not any better on the other side of the scale as there were 88,000 students with C+ and above, less than the capacity of the public universities. With the minimum requirement for entry to university set at a C+, private universities and parallel programmes in public ones will have no new students this year.