|EXAMINATIONS OFFERED BY THE COUNCIL|
History of examinations
Under the East African Community, Kenya Uganda and Tanzania adopted the 7-4-2-3, which consisted of 7 years of primary education, 4 years of secondary education, 2 years of high school and 3–5 years of university education. Under the system, children began their elementary (primary) education at the age of 7 and completed at the age of 13 after sitting for a regional examination known as the East African Certificate of Primary Education (EACPE).
After primary education those who passed very well proceeded to secondary school which ended four years later with the writing of the East African Certificate of Education Examination (EACE). The highest level of education that qualified one to attend university was attained after two years of high school at that time distinct from secondary school with students sitting for the East African Advanced Certificate of Education (EAACE).
With the collapse of the East African Community in 1977, and the subsequent establishment of the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) in 1980 the names of the examinations were changed from their regional identity to a national identity. The East African Certificate of Primary Education (EACPE) became the Certificate of Primary education (CPE), the East African Certificate of Education (EACE) became the Kenya Certificate of Education (KCE) and the East African Advanced Certificate of Education became the Kenya Advanced Certificate of Education (KACE). Other examinations taken over by KNEC included:
The Kenya Junior Secondary Examination (KJSE) examination was officially abolished in 1983. It used to be administered to candidates who had studied for at least two years beyond the primary school course. These were candidates mainly in the then Harambee schools who were leaving full-time education at this stage. It was used for selection of candidates for admission into the P2 teacher training course and promotion of teachers holding P3 certificates to the P2 grade. KJSE examination consisted of free response achievement tests in English Language, Kiswhaili, Mathematics, General Science, Physical Science, Biiology, Geography, History, Christian Religious Education (CRE) and Islamic Religious Education (IRE).
Examinations offered by KNEC today
The Kenya National Examinations Council offers 11 examinations classified into the following categories.
School examinations are offered to candidates at Primary school level and Secondary school level. Since the year 2007 KNEC has been offering these examinations in Southern Sudan following an agreement with the Nuba Relief, Rehabilitation and Development Organization (NRDO). This followed a desire by Southern Sudan where Nuba Region is located to delink itself from the North Sudan. Southern Sudan is predominantly Christian while Northern is predominantly Islam. The curriculum in North incorporates Islam thus disadvantaging the learners from Southern Sudan who are predominantly Christian. The need to sit for KNEC exams was also driven by the act that some children in Southern Sudan had been learning following the Kenyan Curriculum using teachers from Kenya.
A fee structure had to be developed to put into consideration all aspects of registration up to when the examination is taken, results released and candidates issued with a certificate. The fee recommended in 2007 was Ksh.4, 420/= per candidate. This fee was however, reversed downwards to Ksh.3650/= in 2010 and Ksh.3000/= in 2011. The downward revision was purely on humanitarian ground, since NRDO is a local NGO and the fact that the initial amount charged per candidate was arrived at when the candidature was very small.
The first batch of 185 candidates sat the KCPE examination in 2007. In 2008 South Sudan presented 416 candidates. The candidature has progressively increased with 678 candidates in 2009, 1029 in 2010 and 1299 candidates in 2011.
In 2010, the Council registered 20 KCSE candidates from the Southern Sudan (Kauda). The candidature for this exam has remained small and for that reason, the KCSE candidates from Southern Sudan are transported to Kenya (Kakuma Refugee Camp) where they sit for the examination.
The arrangement to offer examinations in Southern Sudan has some challenges. The examination has to be taken by KNEC officers who have to stay in Kauda until the examination is done and bring back the answer sheets. Due to the fighting in Abiyei (Southern Sudan) the form four candidates will not be able to take the examination in 2011. This shows how unpredictable the exercise is especially at Secondary School.
School examinations are offered only once in a year. These examinations are high stakes because they are used for selection to proceed to the next level of education. After the date of release of the KCSE examination results, the Council allows 30 days for any candidates or schools who wish to make any query arising from the released results including request for remarking. This period is referred to as the appeals period and queries received after this period are not considered. Results for remarked cases are released 2 months from the date of deadline of the appeals period.
The table below show the candidature trends in school examinations since 1968 to date
Table 1: CPE/KCPE, KJSE, EACE/KCSE/KCSE and EAACE/KACE & HSC/GCE candidature trends in school examination since 1968
Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE)
KCPE is offered in November each year for standard eight pupils. However, a few private candidates sit the examination at selected examination centers at the county level.
KCPE examination came into being barely five years after the establishment of KNEC in 1980. The 2011 KCPE examination marked the 26th edition of the KCPE examinations since its inception in 1985. The KCPE which replaced CPE was first administered in 1985 and coincided with the introduction of the 8.4.4 system.
The 2010 KCPE candidates were the first cohort of candidates who benefited from a full cycle of eight (8) years of Free Primary Education after it was launched by the Government in 2003. The introduction of Free Primary Education (FPE) in 2003, enabled the country realize a significant growth in primary school enrolment from 5.9 million in 2003 to 8.6 million in 2010 representing a 45.76% growth.
A total of 12 papers are developed for this examination. All KCPE subjects are examined through the use of multiple choice items with the number of items per paper ranging from 30 to 90. In addition two separate composition papers are taken by candidates in English and Insha Kiswahili. The KCPE multiple choice questions are machine scored and the composition is marked by examiners who have been selected and trained by KNEC. The marks in each subject are standardized.
The candidature for this examination has grown from 162,059 candidates in 1968 when it was known as CPE candidates to 776,314 candidates in 2011 representing an increase of %. The examination fee for KCPE was reviewed in 2009 from KES 300/= to KES 500/= per candidate. In 2013 candidates for this examination will pay Kes 850.
Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE)
KCSE was first administered under the 8.4.4 education system in November 1989. Candidates then sat a minimum of 10 subjects. Today a total of 72 papers are offered and candidates can sit a minimum of 7 KCSE subjects. From the year 2013, the fee for candidates taking the least seven (7) subjects is KES 4,500/= per candidate.
Each KCSE subject is graded on the basis of a twelve-point scale, with 12 points being the highest score and 1 the lowest these grades are accompanied by an expanded grading system from A, A-, B+ to E. Grade boundaries are determined by an Awards committee composed of experts selected from the various levels within the education sector.
The mean grade (which ranges from A to E and 7 to 84) is an average grade based on performance in the 7 subjects as stated in the KCSE certificate award Regulations while aggregate points (AGPT) indicate the total number of grade points based on the 7 subjects.
NO MEAN GRADE appears if the candidate sits for less than 7 subjects or where one or more subjects are cancelled due to an examination irregularity or where the entry requirements have not been met. The letter Z indicates that entry requirements have not been met.
The overall mean grade is indicated by a letter grade ranging from A to E as shown below:
NUMERIC AGGREGATE KCSE SUBJECT GRADE
POINTS LETTER STANDARD
GRADE LETTER NUMERIC
81 – 84 A Very Good A 12
74 – 80 A- A- 11
67 – 73 B+ B+ 10
60 – 66 B Good B 9
53 – 59 B- B- 8
46 – 52 C+ C+ 7
39 – 45 C Average C 6
32 – 38 C- C- 5
25 – 31 D+ D+ 4
18 – 24 D Weak D 3
11 – 17 D- D- 2
07 – 10 E Poor E 1
A Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education is awarded to candidates who conform to the entry requirements for the examination as stated below:
Awards for sighted candidates
GROUP I SUBJECTS (All Subjects to be offered)
GROUP II SUBJECTS (At least two subjects must be offered)
GROUP III SUBJECTS (At least one subject must be offered)
The seventh (7) subject can be obtained from the remaining subjects either one Science in Group 2 or one subject from the remaining subjects in Group 3, or any other subject from Groups 4 and 5.
GROUP IV SUBJECTS
GROUP V SUBJECTS
Awards for visually impaired candidates
These candidates sit for a maximum of nine (9) subjects from the following clusters:
Awards for hearing impaired candidates
These candidates sit for a maximum of nine (9) subjects from the following clusters:
Candidates who repeat less than 7 subjects will be awarded a certificate with subject grades for the subject(s) repeated only but without a Mean Grade.
Results for candidates who do not meet certificate award requirements are indicated as follows:
KCSE qualifying examination
This examination is offered to students with foreign primary certificate wishing to register for KCSE examination. This examination is offered in May and November each year. Students who sit this examination must produce the following:
The Council registers and administers examinations on behalf of 13 foreign examination boards. However, several other foreign examination boards continue to offer their examinations locally without going through KNEC. The boards working with the Council are:
Teacher Examinations are offered to candidates specializing in teacher education. Continuous Assessment Tests (CATs) are a form of formative evaluation conducted by teachers to gauge if candidates have understood the syllabus. They also serve to give a level playing field to candidates. The following are the teacher examinations:
These examinations are administered in December every year. The examination is offered in two levels; Certificate level and Diploma level. The compulsory papers at Certificate Level are English (Grammar, Comprehension & Composition), Arithmetic and General Studies (GHC, Emerging Issues, Family, Childcare and Environmental Issues). The compulsory papers at Diploma Level are English (Grammar, Comprehension & Composition), General Studies (GHC, Emerging Issues, Family, Childcare and Environmental Issues)
An ECDE proficiency examination is also offered for those candidates who do not meet the minimum qualifications in each of the levels. A total of 7 papers are offered in each level and 3 papers in each proficiency examination.
This examination is offered to candidates who want to build a career in special needs education. Learners with special needs are generally defined as those who do not fit well in the regular school programmes. These include among other more specific special needs:
The education of learners with special needs in Kenya has been embraced by the Kenya government as reflected in several policy documents including the Children’s Act 2001, the declaration of Free Primary Education in January 2003, the provisions of the Disabilities Act 2003 and the Sessional Paper No. 1 of 2005 on the Policy Framework for Education, Training and Research which guarantee the education and employment of all persons without discrimination.
In Kenya, special education existed long before independence since special schools such as Thika School for the Blind was established in 1946 by the Salvation Army (a church based organization). However, no guidelines were put in place to guide special education issues including examinations. Through the recommendations of the various education commissions in Kenya, the government has stressed the importance of the education of the disabled in order to assist them to acquire a suitable foundation for the world of work so as to contribute to self and society.
Education for learners with special needs has for a long time been provided in special schools and special units attached to regular schools. The government adapted inclusive education to give opportunities to challenged learners to receive education alongside their normal counterparts in the same environment. Following the introduction of Free Primary Education (FPE) in 2003, large numbers of children with special needs were enrolled in regular schools.
The suitability of the regular curriculum and existing school facilities became an issue for educationists. This led to the formation of a Task Force on Special Needs Education in 2003 to look into the educational needs of Special Needs Learners. The task force recommended among other things that syllabuses for specialized areas be developed for immediate implementation and that the Kenya National Examinations Council establishes a section with staff who are qualified in Special Needs Examination Administration to handle all SNE examinations. The Task force further recommended that: -
The government put mechanisms for early assessment and identification by establishing special education units in the districts. Teachers for special education are specifically trained at the Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE) which also coordinates the assessment of children with special needs.
However, due to the diversity of learners with special need, the curriculum developers and the Kenya National Examinations Council is only able to adapt the curriculum and assessment methodology for only a limited group of special needs learners while many others are left to fit within the general educational assessment patterns.
In order for learners with special needs to benefit from the education system in Kenya, the Kenya National Examinations Council has found various ways and means in which assessment for these learners can be made more adaptable to the needs of such learners through differentiation, adaptation and modification of its examinations, and examination management.
Examinations offered by the KNEC are terminal, summative and their main purpose is for selection, placement and certification. The examinations are norm-referenced and are therefore not suitable for the needs of certain types of special needs learners. KNEC develops or adapts examinations using the adapted curriculum developed by KISE and where such curriculum does not exist, and then SNE learners are left to fit within the regular curriculum.
Differentiation in the curriculum may take 4 forms namely the development of:
Special consideration for challenged learners is made from the time of registration for examinations to the issue of results. It must, however, be noted that in all these arrangements the reliability and validity of tests must be maintained.
Special Needs examinations are currently administered for the Visually Impaired (V.I.) which includes blind and those with low vision, hearing Impaired (H.I.), physically and mentally handicapped. The KNEC also administers examinations to cases under special circumstances in hospitals and prisons. These candidates take the KCPE, KCSE, PTE and Technical examinations.
Special education examinations are offered to:
Candidates with physical and mental impairment: These learners have problems performing one or more motor activities due to muscular-skeletal disorders, neurological or chronic health impairments and tend to experience fatigue, trembling, lack of coordination and are slow during examinations. The KNEC research division carries out an assessment of such cases to determine the nature and level of special arrangements to be made during the examinations for such students. Factors considered in determining differentiation in assessment include:
Differentiation for such cases include:
Candidates with hearing impairment: In 2010 the Council introduce the Kenya Sign Language as an examination subject as a language option in place of Kiswahili which is currently compulsory at the KCPE and KCSE levels. Differentiation for the deaf and dumb include:
Candidates with visual impairment take the regular examinations but in Braille for the blind and in large print for those with low vision. Differentiation is made in the following areas:
© The Talented and Gifted Children
The American Public Law (in Michael N Ndurumo -1993) defines the gifted and talented children as those identified by professionally qualified persons who by virtue of outstanding abilities are capable of high performance. Such children require differentiated educational programmes or services beyond those normally provided by the regular educational systems. These are learners who exhibit singly or in combination general intellectual ability, specific academic aptitude, creative and productive thinking, leadership ability, visual and performing arts.
Although the KNEC examinations test a wide range of cognitive abilities, it does not adequately cater for this category of special needs learners. Differentiation in assessment would call for a differentiated curriculum and examinations that exhibit higher cognitive concepts and processes, problem solving, creative thinking, evaluation and decision making.
Challenges in offering examinations for special need cases.
POST SCHOOL EXAMINATIONS
Business examinations are offered to candidates who want to pursue a career in business management. Examinations are offered in March, July, and November each year. The Courses offered include
Technical education or skills training in Kenya took an institutionalized form in 1925 with the establishment of National Industrial Training Deports (NITDs) (DIT, 2007). The 1959 Industrial Training Ordinance became the regulatory framework for the training of apprentices and indentured learners in both industry and the farms. Then in 1962, this Ordinance, through an Act of parliament, became the Industrial Training Act Cap. 237. The assessment of graduates from NITDs was conducted through mainly psychomotor skills tests, any cognitive skills constituent in a given test carrying a mere 10% or less of the overall assessment score (DIT, 2007).
The education department, (currently known as the Ministry of Education) converted the NITDs into Technical and Trade schools in 1963. The new institutions included Kabete, Machakos, Thika, Sigalagala, Kwale, Kaiboi, Mawego Technical Schools and the Mombasa Institute of Muslim Education (MIOME). The Kenya African Preliminary Examination (KAPE), later replaced by Kenya Primary Education (KPE) examination was the required standard of entry into these schools. The courses ran for TWO years, and then students sat for the Kenya Junior Secondary Examination (KJSE) with mainly a bias in technical subjects. Those who performed well would then continue for another two years of secondary education, offered at a few of the technical and Trade schools.( Included Mombasa Technical Institute, later Mombasa Polytechnic, 1974, and now constituent college of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology; the Nairobi Technical High School, now Nairobi Technical Training Institute; and the Nakuru Technical High School, now Nakuru T.T.I. At the end of the two year course, students wrote the East African Examinations Council’s Pre-technician examination, equivalent to the school certificate examination, K.C.E (MOE, 1971).
It is worth noting that the creation of technical schools was so enthusiastically embraced by the Kenya Government that only the very best of KPE and later CPE standard seven graduates would be selected to join such schools, (Yussufu, 1993). This move was to fulfill the need for these bright pupils to join the technically oriented degree courses at the local university, (specifically University of Nairobi Departments of Engineering and Architecture, then). This goal was NOT achieved though, because as it later emerged, no link had been created between the curriculum for these institutions and that of the university, a typical scenario in education planning in Kenya to-date. In an article entitled “What kind of Secondary Technical Education?” Halliwell (1972) wonders whether it is justifiable to spend very large sums of money on a very small group of students who after all, did not end up pursuing the desired national goals of further education in Engineering discipline. Halliwell further argues that the vocational curriculum for the technical secondary schools was inappropriate since it was neither an appreciation course nor a skill training programme (Yussufu, 1993).
The less successful students continued at their respective technical and trade schools for one year course. They were assessed by the City and Guilds of London Institute through an examination heavily skewed in practical content. This was a craftsman level of training and assessment.
The establishment of the Kenya Polytechnic in 1961 expanded the opportunities for further technical education in Kenya for Technical and Trade schools graduates, (Sifuna & Otiende, 2006). Technician courses in modular form were conducted besides the ordinary and higher diploma courses. Technician courses in three levels were coded Technician I, II and III respectively, each being both terminal and progressive. The technical schools were in the mid-80’s transformed into technical training institutes to join the ranks of institutes of technology that had proliferated in the mid- and late 70’s during the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta regime. As such, these institutions continued to offer craft-level courses. The examinations of these courses moved from City and Guilds of London Institute in 1967 to the East African Examinations Council (www.uneb.ac.ug), then to the Kenya National Examinations Council in 1980 after the collapse of the East Africa Community. Specifically, the frequency of administration of each level of technician examinations was once per calendar year.
The current technical modular courses were crafted in 2002. The courses are divided into two or three modules. Each module is terminal in nature, (KIE, 2002). Let the reader note that, these TIVET courses are in some way a reversion to the City and Guilds of London Institute technician format, namely Technician I, Technician II and Technician III. However, a major departure from the City and Guilds format is in the added number of subjects in TIVET modular programme and the bi-annual examinations requirement, that is, a July examination series and an October examination series. The average duration of each course in terms of tuition duration and industrial attachment is shown in table 2.
Table 2: Expected Duration of Courses in Modular Programmes
There are also other local examinations boards with courses that are modular in format. For instance, the KASNEB’s professional level certificate in IT is divided into three sections, I, II and III. Each section is offered twice a year, that is, June/July and October/November series (www.kasneb.or.ke). Candidates are not allowed in KASNEB examinations to enter for a higher section before completing and passing a lower one.
SCOPE OF MODULAR COURSES
The MoE current strategic plan (2008-2012) envisages the use of tertiary technical and national universities to spearhead training of an adequate and relevant skilled human resource capable of serving priority sectors of vision 2030 (KIE, 2009). The modular system of courses has been crafted by stakeholders under the auspices of National Technical Industrial, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training strategy of March 2008. Such stakeholders included development partners, Industrialists, Professionals, KNEC, KIE, MoE, MoYA and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, all at different and relevant levels.
The National TIVET strategy was based among other studies, the Rapid Appraisal Survey on TIVET institutions, (2006) and the Board of University Education Survey, 2006. These had been conducted on programmes and policy, legal framework on tertiary and university education and training capacities, governance and management (KIE, 2009).
As noted earlier, it is apparent that the TIVET modular curricula is a rebirth of the old technician programmes of the 1960S to 1980s. However, one thing stands out to distinguish the two. Whereas the technician programmes ran up to the National Higher Diploma as the highest qualification, the current modular programmes allow bright students to progress to degree programmes. The TIVET curricula will be broad-based with continuous assessment, industrial attachment and phase test examinations forming an integral part of the mode of assessment for particular courses. There will be smooth linkages for transition between and across levels
Technical examinations are offered in July and November.