Raila Odinga, the leader of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), expressed serious concerns about fraudulent activities during the preparation and administration of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams for the current year in a press conference held on Wednesday, December 6, 2023. Odinga stated that he has written to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and twelve other stakeholders, including religious organizations and teacher unions, urging them to collectively address the issues affecting the integrity of national examinations.
“We believe that devaluing the integrity of our exams and certificates presents an existential threat to our country, and we have to close ranks and deal with it dispassionately and professionally,” Odinga asserted during the press conference.
The stakeholders ODM has reached out to include the Catholic Bishops Conference, the National Council of Churches of Kenya, the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, Kenya Secondary School Heads Association, Primary School Head Teachers Association, Kenya National Union of Teachers, and the Law Society of Kenya. Additional bodies contacted are the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers, National Parents Association, Kenya Private Schools Association, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, and the Federation of Kenya Employers.
Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu, however, contradicted Odinga’s claims, stating that there was no widespread cheating in this year’s KCPE exams, with only six cases of attempted cheating among 1,415,315 candidates. The results were officially released at the new Mitihani House in South C.
On November 26, the Kenya National Examination Council acknowledged discrepancies, with 133 candidates receiving incorrect marks. Knec CEO David Njengere admitted that some candidates and schools received wrong results through the 40054 SMS code, citing configuration issues.
Odinga attributed the exam irregularities to the government’s sudden change in the contract for printing exam papers, shifting from a secure printing firm in the UK to one along Mombasa Road. He claimed that the Mombasa Road printer lacked the capacity to handle the task adequately, despite prior warnings to the government.
“The sudden change of printer and the rush in printing on short notice are responsible for the disaster we have witnessed with respect to KCPE,” Odinga emphasized.
He further alleged a similar mess in the procurement process for relaying the results, claiming that the contract was abruptly shifted to a company without the capacity to handle it, leading to discrepancies between the results received via the short code and those on the KNEC portal.
Knec ruled out cheating in a particular school in Isiolo, where a significant number of candidates scored 75 marks in Science. Njengere explained that the multiple-choice nature of the Science paper allowed for identical marks without necessarily indicating cheating.
Despite Odinga’s assertions, the Education Cabinet Secretary and Knec officials maintain that the exam irregularities are isolated incidents and do not compromise the overall integrity of the KCPE results.