Teachers’ Protest For Better Pay Leads To Sacking of Examiners at KCSE Marking Centre
Examiners who threatened to paralyze the marking of this year’s Kenya Certificate for Secondary Education (KCSE) were sent home and replaced with a new team.
This occurred when disturbances disrupted the marking of Christian Religious Education (CRE) Paper One at St Francis Girl’s High School- Mang’u, Gatundu North.
The center hosted roughly one thousand examiners.
Decision to send some of them home was made after a meeting between the Ministry of Education, the Teachers Service Commission, and the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC).
Education CS Ezekiel Machogu, TSC CEO Nancy Macharia, and KNEC CEO David Njengere were present at the meeting.
Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) demanded improved terms and working conditions for examiners who marked CRE examinations.
The dispute was precipitated by the succession politics surrounding the chief examiner job, which were addressed after the incumbent was replaced.
However, the situation deteriorated as more examiners seized the chance to demand better working conditions, precipitating a crisis that resulted to their removal.
Prof. Julius Nyabundi, chair of the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC), said in a message to newsrooms last night, that the council authorities have agreed to replace the Chief Examiner as a compromise to ensure that the marking exercise goes smoothly.
Nyabundi stated that the examiners had made new requests to increase marking fees, despite the fact that payment was a matter of personal contract.
‘‘Since the issue of the examiner’s marking fee is an individual contract, and agreed to before reporting to a center, the Council found it impossible to find an extra budget to revise the rates midway,’’ Nyabundi said.
He reported that the Council had decided to permit the willing graders to continue the marking procedure uninterrupted.
Those who wished to withdraw from the marking exercise were permitted to do so without causing more delays.
According to insiders, the decision was made to preserve the examination’s credibility and to adhere to the examination processing schedule.
Nyabundi assured both parents and students that KCSE examination marking is proceeding successfully in all 35 centers.
However, teachers’ union representatives defended the examiners and pressed for a meeting with KNEC to settle the issue.
Akelo Misori, the secretary general of the Kuppet, suggested that the minimum wage per script be doubled to Sh100. He criticized KNEC for failing to offer a conducive environment for instructors to fulfill their responsibilities.
Misori said it is becoming a pattern that, at every national examination, the Council fails to fulfill its responsibilities, resulting in the examiners utilizing various protest techniques before their problems are addressed.
Misori stated that in the past, teachers were subjected to oppressive working conditions that violated their rights.
prior to going on strike. The frustration, he added, is a threat to the integrity of this year’s examination outcomes.
‘‘In all recent national examinations, examiners have implemented go slows and other measures to protest poor remuneration and horrible working conditions at the examination marking centres,’’ he added.
Misori noticed that instead of resolving the issues presented by instructors, KNEC has escalated its misconduct.
‘‘This year, the Council is running an authoritarian work schedule where examiners work from 4am to 10pm. Such practices violate essential constitutional rights to fair labour practices and access to the highest attainable standard of health,’’ Misori stated.
Earlier in the day, examiners were given 30 minutes to vacate the testing center, and police officers were deployed to expedite the center’s closing.
Police personnel also ordered journalists to leave the area.
A subset of teachers who spoke to journalists on the condition of anonymity voiced discontent with the manner in which the exercise is being done.
The dissatisfied examiners highlighted, among other things, intimidation, autocratic leadership by the centre manager, low pay, and the establishment of punitive marking rules for examinations.
Their criticism is also centered on the fact that they are paid less each script graded than examiners of other subjects, such as Kiswahili.
According to them, CRE examiners receive only Sh55 per paper graded, compared to other subjects’ examiners who receive Sh78 per script graded.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, the graders criticized their supervisors for overworking them, marking that they have been rising up at 5 a.m. and going to bed after 10 a.m.
As a result of their long working hours, the examiners lamented that exhaustion prevented them from rendering impartial judgments and that they may fail.
In addition, the examiners criticized the seizure of their cell phones and laptops from the marking area, a circumstance that, according to them, severed all connections.
According to reports, the impasse began on Monday.