Kenya’s Ministry of Education announced yesterday that 16 primary schools in North Eastern province have been found to have “cheated” in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam. According to the Ministry, students ‘received’ materials related to the exam before taking the exam – in many cases, the ministry claims, from teachers, as well as ‘students shouting the answers to each other out loud’ during the exam. The North Eastern province is home to ethnic Somalis and Somali refugees. Of the 16 schools involved in this so-called ‘cheating’ (I’m not convinced that every student in the entire region managed to have cheated), 5 of them are U.N.-run schools for refugee students in camps like Dabaab, Central, etc. No doubt cheating goes on everywhere in Kenya, but to single out the Somali-kenya province is a bit fishy, if not outright disenfranchisement. More importantly, it’s unfair to punish all the students in the five refugee camps by cancelling all of the results.
Living in a refugee camp is difficult enough, but studying for once-a-year exam that determines these student’s future, if there is any, is quite a punishment in itself. I’m not making excuses for those students who cheated, but I find it very hard to swallow every student in those five refugee camps cheated. My sympathy lies with the innocent students who are collectively being punished by Kenya’s Ministry of Education.