To the victor go the spoils...

As the year came to a close the countries KCPE candidates anxiously awaited their exam results. And they came to tears, joy and pointed fingers of blame. While those who excelled in the exams were celebrated by their parents, piers and teachers those who failed were relegated to tears and the stark reality( and in the case of two girls: suicide)- that came courtesy of  a statement by the education minister Sam Ongeri- that school heads were banned from forcing students to repeat the exams.

The examinations tend to inspire stiff competition not only among the student aiming to get placement in renowned government schools but also amongst schools whose aim it is to secure students for the new year, all this undoubtedly creates pressure on the young students eager to be part of the small group of students to gain admission to the top schools in the country.

 As in all competitions there must be winners and losers and not everyone will be able to cope with the pressure cooker that is a national exam for this reason an either crafty or stupid student may choose to scam their way into high school education by cheating.  Each exam year comes with inventive ways to avoid failing and 2011 was no different with teachers and parents now getting in on the act by forcing weaker  standard Eight pupils to repeat the examinations.  Yet another scheme thought up by desperate students is to write answers on their plastic sandals or on the colliers of their school uniforms!

In an attempt to stop the trend schools will now be closed during the examination period, in addition the education minister- whose county preformed miserably in the exams (featuring prominently in the bottom 5) – said that collusion has facilitated cheating in the past, and now only candidates, teachers, supervisors and security officials will be allowed in the school during exams. To that end schools would remain closed from October 19 to allow the candidates sit examinations without disturbance.

I for one have never understood the public broadcasting of the examination results and don’t think I ever will, public praising of those who excelled in newspapers and on television only adds to the disappointment and shame of those who failed to make the grade leading some youngsters to resort to ending their lives, such pressure is unnecessary and undue.  

Although I do relish a good competition amongst piers this is slightly over board. That being said it is good that cheating students are made accountable for their actions by not receiving their results and being shut out of re sitting the exam as punishment, but perhaps this punishment needs to be harsher?


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