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Kenya will retain national examinations as a tool to test measure students’ strengths and abilities

Posted by African Press International on September 10, 2008

Experts say KCPE, KCSE here to stay

By Marion Wambugu And Joel Okwayo

Education experts and stakeholders have reacted sharply to a proposal by the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (Ipar) to scrap primary and secondary schools national examinations.

Education Secretary George Godia said national examinations were a viable method of testing students in a standardised format.

The proposal to scrap KCPE and KCSE was among a raft of recommendations in a study conducted by Ipar on the education sector and exclusively reported by The Standard on Monday.

The Parliamentary Committee on Education, Research and Technology, chaired by Mosop MP David Koech, too, backed national examinations, saying they were vital tools of measuring students strengths and abilities.

Speaking on behalf of Koech during the committees visit to Nairobis Upper Hill Secondary School, Lari MP David Njuguna said testing students through the national examinations should remain.

“Abolishing examinations is not wise. They are vital tool to determine student performance and ensure quality learning in schools,” said Mr Njuguna.

The Koech committee said scrapping national examinations would be detrimental to the quality of education. Testing using a standardised examination is part of the curriculum.

On his part, Prof Godia said: “National exam assessment has been tested by curriculum developers and proven viable as a standardised method of testing pupils and students performance.”

Godia said scrapping examinations and replacing them with individual school tests would not show a true reflection of performance, which is key in development and review of the curriculum.

“National examinations are a selection mechanism tool that tests relevance of content taught and students mastery of the skill and curriculum. Its removal will result in production of half-baked students,” said Godia.

He, however, urged teachers and parents to constantly counsel students and accept their intellectual ability, which he noted would remove the pressure to perform.

Commission for Higher Education Secretary Everett Standa opposed the proposal.

“These examinations are standardised and the only viable results to measure students performance at the national level,” said Prof Standa.

He said without examination results, it would be difficult to determine the entry point to universities.

“The examination is also one of the key tools we use to measure the quality of learning and the curriculum in our schools. Individual examination is not a good idea because each will set the tests according to the content learnt and understanding of the curriculum by their teachers,” said Standa.

However, he recommended constant review of the curriculum, saying it would help to remove parts of the syllabus that caused undue pressure among students.

Higher Education Loans Board Chief Executive Benjamin Cheboi opposed the proposal to scrap national examinations, saying it was wrong to attribute school unrest to them as many students had done.

“People have been doing examinations for a long time and they have never been reason for unrest. Let students concentrate instead of focusing on irrelevant things to justify under performance,” said Mr Cheboi.

He said a standardised examination is important to set a level playing ground for all learners.

He advised students to be disciplined and focus on their studies.

Similarly, Nairobi Provincial Director of Education Boniface Gitau opposed abolition of examinations would just be a temporary measure to a bigger problem.

“The education sector should instead reform the methods of testing students instead of scrapping examinations,” Mr Gitau said.

But some students supported the suggestion to scrap KCSE, saying it was a major cause of undue pressure to perform, which teachers alleged use to victimise weak students.

However, others opposed the proposal saying examinations ensured that all students were tested in a standardized system.

Speaking in Kakamega, Parliamentary Committee on Education Chairman David Koech said the Ipar report should be ignored.

Mr Koech, a former high school principal, said national examinations determined those who would be picked for further education.

He said the committee would not allow KCSE and KCPE to be scrapped.

“Allowing each school to set its own standards will compromise the quality of education, ” said Koech.

He said Ipar should present its report to the committee to so that its views could be harmonised with recommendations from task forces.

In its report, Ipar also proposed a new education Act to provide a legal framework for running and testing the curriculum.

Ipar also called for the disbandment of the Kenya National Examinations Council.

Ipar says cheating in national examinations where some students and schools get examination papers before hand was the consequence of poor management.



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