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MPs propose major change to national exams in favour of sick & expectant candidates

Many sick and expectant KCSE & KCPE candidates either miss exams or write them in hospital beds

Pupils in a classroom

Education stakeholders in Kenya are contemplating the introduction of supplementary exams for the Kenya Certificate for Primary Education (KCPE) and the Kenya Certificate for Secondary Education (KCSE) under special circumstances.

This move comes as a response to concerns raised by members of Parliament who advocate for students facing health-related challenges to have a fair opportunity to prove their academic abilities.

The National Assembly Education Committee recently disclosed that in these new proposals, expectant mothers and hospitalized candidates will no longer be required to take exams in the confines of hospital beds.

The chairperson of the committee, Julius Melly, emphasised the need to reevaluate the existing policy and implement supplementary exams in such exceptional cases.

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Melly pointed out the inherent unfairness of subjecting sick individuals or those recovering from medical procedures to the stress of examinations.

"You can't give exams to a sick person in the hospital. You can't give exams to someone who has just given birth. We need to come up with a better policy," he said.

While these proposed changes are welcomed by many, it's unlikely that they will be implemented in time for the current cohort of candidates, set to take their exams in early November.

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"I don't think it's going to happen this year, but we have given them a directive on that," Melly stated.

The Principal Secretary for Curriculum Reforms, Fatma Chege, also emphasised the importance of these reforms during a meeting with the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association.

She highlighted how the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) is different from the previous 8-4-4 system, where students felt pressured to sit for national exams regardless of their health conditions.

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Chege emphasised that the CBC approach aims to reduce the pressure associated with national exams, ensuring that students are assessed continuously throughout their educational journey.

"The pressure to sit for exams after eight years has been eased out. You find girls in the ward, giving birth, and an exam is waiting for them," she stated

Currently, supplementary exams are commonplace in colleges and universities, especially for students who miss tests or fail to meet the minimum grade requirements.

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