5-year strategy by KNEC to address examination threats.
Over the next five years, the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) will rely on a plan to develop, administer, and protect the credibility of tests.
According to the examinations agency, the plan will also guide school assessments.
This came as Knec identified potential threats, weaknesses, and loopholes that could jeopardize its operations.
Knec has identified possible mass walkouts of teachers who participate in the processing of national examinations, continued examination cheating, political interference, insufficient secretariat staff, and cyber insecurity as key concerns threatening national examinations in its plan.
Negative public perception, rapid technological change, natural disasters, examination-related litigation cases, and competition from other assessment bodies have all been identified as potential weak links in the council’s operations.
Forgery of Knec certificates, nonresponsive or obsolete curricula in some courses, corruption, and unethical practices are also mentioned as potential threats to examination administration.
Internally, Knec identified weaknesses such as insufficient human resources, poor succession planning, insufficient financial resources, an unresponsive organizational structure, low research uptake and utilization, and centralization of operations.
Some of the council’s weaknesses include insufficient feedback mechanisms, lax enforcement of rules and regulations, and a heavy reliance on government funding.
These details are contained in the Education CS George Magoha’s 2021-2026 Strategic Plan.
Knec explains in detail the top strategic areas of focus in which it must excel in order to fulfil its mandate.
Quality educational assessments and certifications, research and innovation, a strong digital infrastructure, security and integrity, a strong and committed human resource, and solid governance and leadership are all highlighted as key areas of focus in the plan.
The details have emerged as the clock approaches a major transition in which pioneer Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) learners will sit end-of-primary education exams in December.
Knec must complete the development of the Competency-Based Assessment Framework (CBAF) up to Grade 12 as well as the Teacher Education level as part of the ongoing implementation of the CBC.
Knec is also expected to revise the legal framework, policies, strategies, procedures, rules, and regulations to align with the Basic Education Curriculum Framework requirements.
As Knec will play a leading role in guiding on School-Based Assessments (SBA) and teacher capacity building on formative assessment, the demands of Competence-Based Assessment (CBA) will necessitate a review of modes of funding.
In addition, the council is expected to develop new assessment tools and form partnerships with schools to improve access, as well as to continually build teachers’ capacities to ensure the institutionalization of formative assessment and the success of CBA.
With a full Knec in-tray, parents, students, teachers, and other stakeholders have expressed concerns about the organization’s readiness for the upcoming transition to the CBC’s new examinations regime.
Learners in Grade Five are expected to take their end-of-primary-school exams under the 2-6-3-3-3 education system. This means that when the new academic year begins in April, all Grade Five students will be assigned to their final year of primary school before transitioning to junior secondary school.
These students should have completed school-based assessments in Grades 4, 5, and 6, earning a total of 60 points.
Knec’s national exams, which will be given to these students in December, will only be worth 40 points.
Concerns have been expressed by stakeholders about Knec’s readiness to manage examinations and school-based assessments under the new CBA regime.
Fears are compounded by expectations that Knec will make elaborate preparations in accordance with the new and expanded roles in examinations and assessments.
Knec intends to pilot Grade 6 and 9 Assessments as well as Teacher Education level assessments based on the CBA Framework in its detailed response in the five-year strategic plan.
The council intends to gradually expand the CBA framework to include Basic Education, Teacher Education, and Business and Technical Examinations.
It also intends to create teacher training manuals on CBA in accordance with the Basic Education Curriculum Framework (BECF).
Knec will also conduct capacity building for stakeholders on CBA, as well as develop and conduct formative and summative assessments in accordance with the CBA framework.
Knec also intends to raise stakeholder awareness for all assessments through the use of social media technologies such as podcasts, animated videos, and YouTube in order to improve best assessment practices.
Collaboration with stakeholders such as the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), the Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE), the Ministry of Education, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), and the Technical Vocational Education and Training Authority is also listed (TVETA).
“Knec shall also benchmark with regional and international examination boards on best practices in assessment and participate in regional and international educational assessment conferences,” reads the document.
In terms of quality assurance, Knec intends to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of CBA across all grades, as well as the assessment processes, in order to ensure continuous improvement.
“Knec will embark on the development of guidelines and quality controls to ensure the credibility of formative assessments at the school level,” reads the document.
According to the strategic plan, Knec intends to implement robust digital infrastructure and innovative business solutions in accordance with ICT industry requirements and standards.
The council will upgrade primary and secondary Council Data Centres, as well as related infrastructure, to support CBA under this strategy.
Educate ICT staff
It also intends to train ICT personnel on security, networks, databases, and data center technologies, as well as to sensitize personnel on general ICT literacy.
Knec will also provide cyber security awareness training to its employees, implement an Information Security Management System (ISMS), and acquire and set up secure cloud storage for organizational data.
“Knec will also acquire and implement an internal unified communication and information sharing system and review ICT policy and guidelines,” reads the report.
Knec states that it will maintain and secure infrastructure in support of examination processes in order to ensure the security and integrity of the council’s services.
Knec intends to improve physical security systems, upgrade electronic security systems, and develop and implement security policies, procedures, and contingency plans as part of this plan.
The council also intends to purchase smart padlocks for use in examination storage containers, as well as to increase printing capacity by modernizing secure printing equipment and automating the printing process.
“Council shall also acquire a secure smart warehouse with adequate storage and complete and secure New Mitihani House.”
Overall, the Council intends to strengthen prudent governance that promotes accountability and is environmentally conscious.
In addition, in order to improve governance and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, Council intends to conduct a review of the Knec Act (2012.)
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It also intends to review Knec rules and regulations, develop and review operational policies for the Council, and conduct legal and compliance audits.
Knec shall also conduct a review and development of the Knec Strategic Plan, as well as review and implementation of the Risk Management Framework.