NAIROBI - The Kenyan government has dissolved the national school examination board and says it will arrest the nine members who authorities now say were implicated in widespread cheating last year on the university entrance exam. The scandal is engulfing the Kenya National Examinations Council.
College-age high school students in Kenya undergo a mandatory examination to determine whether they can advance to public and private universities.
Around half a million students take the exam every year. In 2016, the results of more than 5,000 students were voided due to cheating and other "irregularities," including exam papers being sold for $10.
There have also been unconfirmed reports that exam questions and answers were being shared over social media. In 2015, exam officials confiscated more than 30 phones that were being used during the test.
Kenya's government has ordered the arrest of officials it says were involved in the cheating.
“These people are very, very much involved in what had happened in last year’s examination and so they will have to report, record statements and show cause why legal action should not be taken against them,” said Joseph Nkaissery, the Cabinet minister for internal security, speaking to journalists Thursday.
The education minister, Fred Matiangi, said that list includes top members of the Kenya National Examinations Council which creates and administers the test.
This is the not the first time Kenya has seen cheating on national standardized tests.
There is a lot riding on these exams. Teachers point out that the need to excel pushes students, teachers and even officials to the brink.
Broader reform needed
One teacher told VOA that this vice will continue unless there is broader education reform. She asked us not to use her name for fear of repercussions at her job.
“If we were to change the entire system of examining you know like you get a transcript from Form One to Form Four, but you see when we gauge a student with only one exam after four years are we being fair?," she asked. So unless we change the exam system and we start examining from Form One you know and then we give you a grade based on that we will not get anywhere.”
She said the key issue is parents, and even teachers, buying leaked examination papers to help students.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has now appointed a new chairman of the exam board, George Magoha - a former University of Nairobi vice chancellor.