Logistical and infrastructural challenges, aggravated by heavy rains in parts of the country, threaten the smooth administration of the national examinations for Standard Eight and Form Four students.
The Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination is due to start next Tuesday, but Ministry of Education officials are still grappling with how to administer it in areas marooned by floods. In certain areas, the roads to some schools have been washed away.
Practical and oral examinations in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) began on Monday, and the papers had to be airlifted to some schools.
The government last week announced that three ministries would manage the administration of the examinations.
Education CS George Magoha also said that extra resources, including police helicopters, had been set aside to ensure the exams are not interrupted. Evacuation of candidates in areas where flooding poses a threat has also been considered.
The worst affected counties include Mandera, Wajir, Isiolo and Marsabit.
Many schools in these counties are inaccessible after roads and bridges were swept away.
Other parts of the country expected to receive heavy rains include the highlands east and west of the Rift Valley, the southeast lowlands, the northwest and the Coast region.
Those managing the exams have been directed to assess the situation in the affected regions with a view to evacuating the candidates, should the need arise.
In Wajir, which has 5,984 KCPE and KCSE candidates, County Director of Education Hussein Osman said some examination centres have had to be relocated. The affected centres and schools are in Bute and Buna in Wajir North sub-county.
Four pupils drowned on Tuesday as they attempted to swim across a swollen stream in Eldas Constituency.
In Banisa sub-county in Mandera, Deputy County Commissioner Noah Tanu, said they could run into problems.
“We are worried about the seasonal rivers that get water from the Ethiopian Highlands but we are prepared. We will have to use a helicopter to deliver papers to the containers where they are stored before being distributed,” he said.
But County Commissioner Onesmus Kyatha said there was no cause for alarm. “The floods have left a trail of destruction, but we plan to deliver exam materials to all the centres,” he said.
The affected parts are Arabia, Fino, Malkamari and Kiliweheri in Banisa and parts of Mandera West sub-county.
“We have a standby chopper to deliver exam materials in the areas that cannot be reached by road,” he said.
In Marsabit, the government is working overtime to save 400 candidates from missing the exams. Four centres in Sololo sub-county — Rawana, Dambalafachana, Sololo Makutano and Makuhgura — have been closed and candidates relocated.
Six other centres will have their papers airlifted from the Moyale sub-county headquarters. Marsabit County Director of Education Paul Mwongera allayed fears of candidates missing the examinations, saying emergency measures have been put in place.
In Isiolo, candidates in schools likely to be affected by floods, especially Merti and Garbatulla sub-counties, will sit the examinations at institutions on safer grounds, county director of education, Koriyow Hassan told the Nation.
At least 600 households have been displaced in Iresaboru in Sericho after the River Ewaso Nyiro River burst its banks on Tuesday evening.
Isiolo County has 3,450 KCPE and 1,658 KCSE candidates.
Meanwhile, two schools — St Kevin Secondary School and Erait Academy in Turkan Central sub-county — were closed after flash floods damaged the buildings.
The school administrators said they had contacted Ministry of Education officials concerning the plight of their KCPE candidates.
St Kevin Secondary School principal, Thomas Lokuruka, appealed for help to enable the students sit the exams since the damage was massive.
Meanwhile, Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa Wednesday asked counties to set aside two per cent of their budgets to mitigate the effects of the ongoing rains.
By David Muchunguh, Manase Otsialo, Jacob Walter, Sammy Lutta, Sarah Nanjala