Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version

Isaac Newton Kinity asks if a ‘political, secret shadow examination board’ is ‘still alive in Kenya’.

For many years, the members of the Luo community in Kenya were famous for their excellence in education. In every field of education, the Luos performed the best. During the regime of the late President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, many Kenyans from other communities continued to wonder at the unique academic achievements in Nyanza. The Luo community continued to lead in both Primary and secondary education final results year after year. Because the common staple in Nyanza included the consumption of large amounts of fish, it was construed their success was influenced by the special fish nutrients they ate.

But from the beginning of 1980, two years after Kenyatta’s death, the entire scenario changed. The results of the performances of the students in Nyanza, especially those from the Secondary Schools declined, and started to indicate poor performances. That trend has continued up to this day.

In mid 90s, 95 per cent of all students who sat for both primary and secondary examinations in Kikuyu Constituency, were declared failures by the examination board when the results were out. Those results surprised every one in the constituency, including the then area member of parliament, the prominent Kenya Human Rights Lawyer, Mr Paul Kibugi Muite. After consultation with his constituents, Mr Muite paid for the remarking of the examination papers.. Kenyans were shocked after the results. 90 per cent of the students who had been declared failures were found to have passed the examination. So in total, 90 per cent of all the students who sat for the Secondary examinations in Kikuyu Constituency at the time, had initially passed their examination but the results had been manipulated.

The new examiners found that those who marked the examination papers had done a good job. What was discovered was that, after the students examination papers were marked, there was a political, secret shadow examination board which declared who were to be failures and who were to be approved for a pass. It was this organ which handed the results to the actual legal examination board for the release of the results. Could this be what befell the wonderful performances of the Members of the Luo community in 1980 and in the latter years?

The possibility of some bright Kenyans who would have excelled in education, being found on the streets of Kenya as hawkers, touts, idlers and as members of the Mungiki sect, cannot be ruled out. No one knows for sure whether the secret board still exists or not. Also no one knows how many times what happened in the Kikuyu constituency, happened elsewhere in Kenya. What Kenyans are sure of, is that not much has changed, even after the introduction of the coalition government of power sharing.

What can save bright Kenyan students is the re-examination of the examination papers by a fully independent panel of foreigners, from either the neighbouring countries to Kenya or from abroad, before the results are released. There is no transparency and accountability in the Kenya Examination Board

* Isaac Newton Kinity is the former secretary general of the Kenya Civil Servants Union and chairman of the Kikimo Foundation for Corruption and Poverty Eradication.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.