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Archive for March 25th, 2007

Who sets the exams?

Posted by African Press International on March 25, 2007

By Zachary Ochuodho

It may look rather strange that whenever Form Four exam results are released it is the same schools that top the list.

While this short of feat is commended and admired by students, parents and education officials, concerns are being raised from some quarters how this is possible.

It has become like a rite that some particular schools must always come at the top of exam lists every year, yet what the schools boast of being endowed with is just facilities.

Why should some schools among thousands in Kenya, continue to excel in exams every year without raising eyebrows, especially, if their source of teachers is the same?

It has been explained in the past that the schools have what it takes to enable students’ excel in their exams. But while this explanation is understood, concerns are being raised why only these?

Some people who don’t want think otherwise have refuted reports saying all is fine with schools that perform well in Kenya National Examinations.

The question that the silent majority now asks about it is who set exams? Are they part of the teaching fraternity? Why do schools where teachers set exams seem to perform well more than those that do not?

Why do students who pass highly in KCSE exams for examples end-up changing or discontinuing with their degree courses saying they cannot cope? Why do such schools set mock exams, which are never made accessible to the public or students after given them to students?

These are some of the questions that hold the key to the mischief that seem to stride on under the guise of hard work in schools.

Speaking to a former student in one of the schools which has consistently remained at the top in exams reveals it all.

The student whose name is withheld say that his dream in life is to revolutionise the way national exams in Kenya are conducted.

“I saw it happen and have a reason believe that this is what usually happens in the school and also why some schools in Kenya have an edge in national examinations,” he said.

He says while it’s usual for some schools to conduct their own mocks separately, the circumstance under which his former school did such mocks when he was still their baffled him.

“Its true, we were taught normally like students in others schools, but what baffled me most was the way the last mock was done,” he says.

He confides that after doing school mock, they were not allowed to carry out with them the exam papers and were also warned not to disclose anything about it to anybody.

What baffled him was that whatever had been set in the mock is what actually came in the final exams. The only difference is the way the questions were framed.

But such anomalies do exist and the only difference is that no one has ever questioned why some particular schools in Kenya often outdo others in national exams.

The most interesting thing about the issue is that not all teachers in schools which excel are privy to the secret about what happens.

Insiders who have learnt the trick reveals say that only a handful of privileged teachers know the secret, the rest just wallow in their ignorance bliss.

“Only teachers who set Kenya Secondary Certificate of Education (KCSE) exams know about it otherwise they can be tempted to reveal what they forwarded to council for consideration,” one teacher said.

“Some subject teachers often set exams without saying that it’s the same questions they should expect in the exam,” he said.

“It’s done as a top secret which is only known by senior teachers who have taught in that school for long,” another teacher, who was once privy to the information once revealed.

Often when issues are raised over the matter the reason usual given is that the institutions have enough facilities than others. But like graft beneficiaries, no student or teacher from such schools agree that their schools are favoured.

Usually those who know the secret of such schools have formed the tendency of ensuring that they get hold of mock exams done in those schools.

But as one lecturer recently confided in me schools, which normally do well in national exams, have nothing-extra ordinary which other schools do not have. The advantage they have is that most teachers in such schools are included as panel of setters.

This is why sometimes it sounds funny to hear education officials penalizing schools for using unfair means in exams, if those who set exams make duplicate it to their students without actually saying that they are the real exams.
Although lecturers who teach post-secondary students says that they do not which student came from what institution to wholesomely say whether they do well in their courses, fellow students from other schools, which never had the privilege say it.

“Most of students who hails from top ranking schools in Kenya tends to perform poorly, change their courses in the middle or drop-outs of college citing non issues as problems,” former students of Thurdubuor Secondary School who joined Kenyatta University reveals..

The group urged their fellow students yet to do their KCSE, that they beat their fellow colleagues from national schools in their courses.

Last year, one professor in a local university refused to take his son to Alliance High School where he had been admitted after topping in Kenya Certificate of Primary Education for the simple reason that the boy would pass, but will not be competent enough to compete professionally.

The argument of the professor was that most students who go to national exams are being grilled to pass exams and this makes most them perform poorly at the university and thereafter.

By Z. Ochuodho

Published by Africn Press in Norway, APN

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