Time to probe the haste in marking national exams

In 2017, a Kiongwani Secondary School teacher marking chemistry papers at Loreto High School in Limuru collapsed and died. This was attributed to work pressure the teachers were subjected to. A Tusunini Primary School teacher died while being treated at PCEA Kikuyu Mission Hospital after being taken ill after two days marking the KCPE 2019 exams. This, too, has been attributed to “strenuous work in examination centres”.

There have been alleged cases of fatigue leading to health complications amongst teachers marking the national examinations in Kenya. There have also been cases of errors in tallying of results, which point to weak points in the seemingly hastened marking systems. For instance, the recently reported case of one Valine Nabumbo Kakai, a former student at Alliance Girls High School, who erroneously scored 70 points (B+) at initial tallying, points to a serious crisis in exam marking. The results would later be corrected to 82 points (A plain) after her 12 points in history subject were added.

From the above mentioned instances, it is clear that despite the much-hyped technology and human resource-supported improved marking system, there is need for the Ministry of Education to re-examine the modalities of exam marking.

There is evidence of haste and overstretching during the exercise. This can have adverse effects on the quality of exam results, as well as on the health of the teachers involved. There is need to evaluate the procedures, workforce allotment versus work load, time allowed and proof checking mechanisms to come up with an optimal marking system that will guarantee quality results as well as the health of the teachers involved in marking.

In essence, we are in a country where examination results count for much. For KCPE, they determine which secondary schools the pupils attend, whether the pupils are eligible for scholarships, and generally it can be a motivating (or demotivating) factor for future performance of the students. So an accurate system can preserve the aforementioned.

For KCSE, it is all about how career paths are shaped. For instance, The Alliance Girls High School student who received initial erroneous results was very demoralised since her chances of pursuing medicine, her dream career, were dwindling. The Kenya Universities and College Placements Service has set the bar very high for students wishing to study careers like medicine, engineering, law, actuarial science and architecture. While top grades may not be all that counts to succeed through such careers, it is imperative that the Kenya national Examination Council ensures that no student is short-changed.

In the same vein, no marker should be short-changed and exposed to fatigue and other unhealthy conditions in the name of hurrying to finish marking exams. That is why the entire system must be probed and every anomaly fixed to ensure a transparent and friendly examination system.


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