The Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) has introduced online registration of K.C.P.E candidates. Many schools had not seen the system produced by KNEC, since being the first time to register online. The Head teacher of Eshibinga primary approached me to download the registration form using the XO laptops. I gladly did it. However, I noted several problems with the KNEC system that I wish to share.
KNEC had stated that schools had to have access to a computer and the internet, those who don’t should visit any cyber cafe which are connected to the internet and ask for assistance.
The directive requiring all high school examination candidates to register online is a classic example of how a well-intentioned initiative that is implemented in a rushed manner can have dire consequences. Schools like Eshibinga deep in rural Kenya has not been near a computer until Jane and Sandra came up with the OLPC program.
The Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) says the estimated 400,000 candidates must provide their details through its online system by March 31. Yesterday was the deadline. By end of day Yesterday on 13 of the 46 Kenya Certificate of primary School Examinations had registered in our school.
In its zeal to implement the system, the council appears to have ignored the fact that the vast majority of Kenyans do not have easy access to electricity, let alone internet services.
In effect, the council is placing yet another burden on the shoulders of students from poor backgrounds and those in some of the remotest parts of the country, an unacceptable intervention given that the authorities should be looking for ways to bridge the gap between those disadvantaged students and their wealthier, urban counterparts.
Few can dispute the fact that it is necessary to expand internet use more widely to prepare students to compete in the digital age. There may also be merit to the argument that the online system might help curb cheating, although early indications are that the system may, in fact, inadvertently compromise privacy because most of the details are being keyed into computers by third parties at cyber cafes.
The basic complaint students, teachers and parents have raised about the process is ease of access.
Is it really right that teachers at a school like Kalokool secondary in northern Kenya should leave their classes to make the 100-kilometre journey to Lodwar which is the nearest place they can access commercial internet services and electricity?
Should teachers in areas like Faza and Siyu Island have to go to the expense of taking a daylong boat ride to Lamu to satisfy the demands of bureaucrats in Nairobi that they either register online or miss out on the exams?
The answer is clearly in the negative. The examinations council, which has had its fair share of goofs in recent years, is deepening the inequality of a two-tier system that rewards students from wealthy backgrounds while those in public schools and in hardship zones suffer.
This debacle is also a commentary on the poor planning that attends policy formulation in key institutions that have a huge impact on people’s lives.
Some of the issues that would have been canvassed at that stage are how practical the implementation of the initiative would be in a country where the total customer base for the Kenya Power and Lighting Company is below two million out of a population of 38 million.
Another issue to be examined would have been the fact that internet penetration in Kenya, while high by sub-Saharan African standards, is still predominantly an urban phenomenon.
All this suggests that implementation of grandiose initiatives like nationwide web-based registration is something that should be rolled out on a phased basis at best.
Written By Anyona G.S
Anyona is a teacher and she is helping with setting the IT class at Eshibinga primary