Kenya successfully vied to host the 21st edition of the Commonwealth Conference of Education Ministers (21CCEM), one of the largest ministerial meetings, in the Bahamas in 2015.
The conference is a triennial high-level meeting that brings together education ministers from the 54 Commonwealth countries and other partners such as the UN agencies, regional blocs, international civil society and teachers, among others, to develop policy proposals on education.
The decision to grant Kenya the hosting rights was born of the Commonwealth’s principle of equality of member states and recognition of our contribution to quality and sustainability of education both regionally and internationally, as envisioned by the Ministry of Education.
Nairobi hosts the event in April — a critical time of the national examination cycle when both the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary of Education (KCSE) results are being processed.
Over the years, national exams have been marred with irregularities orchestrated by mischievous individuals who abet the malpractice. However, since 2016, Kenya has witnessed relentless efforts by the ministry to root out the vice through some robust exam management strategies which are bearing results.
Last year May, during the release of 2020 KCSE exam results, the ministry reported a reduction in cases of exam irregularities to 287 from 1,309 cases witnessed in 2019, signalling an 88 per cent decrease in exam malpractices. This was despite the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic that saw in-person learning suspended for nine months across the country.
The milestone was attributed to the container exam management system introduced in 2016, which involves centre managers picking test materials and returning them to containers under 24-hour security surveillance.
Of course, exam irregularities have been reported in different forms; impersonation, collusion, use of unauthorised materials in exam rooms and centres and access to mobile phones, among others forms. But the one form of the irregularity the container system is weeding out is leakage.
Unlike the years preceding 2016 when learners, teachers and, in some cases, parents could access test materials even long before the actual day of writing the exam, the container system has sealed all the leakage loopholes, and now all learners access test materials nearly at the same time.
As Kenya gears to participate in the 21CCEM, all sector players need to reimagine the credibility of our academic certification and against its equivalence on the global stage.
Under the auspices of ‘rethinking education for decent work and employability’ as one of the discussion topics, the conference will interrogate the role of education agencies in shaping desirable human resources for the job market.
Exam malpractices create a culture of dishonesty and erode the confidence in the qualification that comes with it.