Monday, September 04, 2017

Postpone the exams

I think we have vastly overestimated the intelligence of the Cabinet Secretary for Education who wants the election commission to conduct the fresh presidential election on or before the 17th October so as not to affect the calendar for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations, which begin in October. The Ministry and the Kenya National Examinations Council are unwilling to alter the examination timetable to avoid placing candidates under greater stress.

The Cabinet Secretary seems oblivious to what needs to be done before the fresh election. The most important, of course, is the appropriation of funds to pay for the fresh election. Second, depending on what the detailed Supreme Court judgment (which will be published in 18 days) contains, the commission may need to engage the services of a separate supplier of election materials. Third, also depending on the outcomes of any other election petitions or internal investigations by the commission, it may need to replace and train a substantial number of poll officials, including presiding officers. These are actions and events that are unlikely to be rushed given the harsh observations of the Supreme Court and the heightened political climate in the country.

Of course we are not oblivious as to the impact a postponement of the KCPE and KCSE examinations will have on candidates. This, though, is an opportunity to deploy measures to help them decompress and prepare for the examinations in calmer circumstances. And especially for the students of schools that have suffered dormitory fires, the added time before the examinations will be invaluable in helping them find psychological tools to cope with their trauma.

The constitutional timetable for the fresh presidential election cannot be altered without causing great disruption to all our lives. The examination timetable can be altered with less severe outcomes, however. Unless the Cabinet Secretary is carrying water for nefarious interests, it is a mystery why he would want us to rush into a fresh presidential election.

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