Why being an Examination Centre Manager during KCPE, KCSE Exams is one of the most risky jobs in Kenya

A pricipal crosses an over flowing river after a heavy down pour carrying exam papers (Photo Courtesy)
A pricipal crosses an over flowing river after a heavy down pour carrying exam papers (Photo Courtesy)

A Centre Manager is, mostly, a head teacher (Primary schools) or a principal (Secondary schools) of a school where a National Examination (KCPE or KCSE) is carried out. The Centre manager is appointed by the Kenya National Examinations Council, KNEC, after secondment from the employer; the Teachers Service Commission (TSC). During the examination period, the Centre manager is directly answerable to the TSC Sub County Director. Read more details, here: 2018 appointment and remuneration of Centre Managers, Supervisors and other contracted professionals by KNEC

As a Centre manager, the head teacher or principal must always be on high alert to spot any happenings within the school vicinity that may jeopardize the examination process . Since the buck stops with the centre manager, this job is considered one of the most risky. We sample a few reasons that make this job treacherous:

  • Collection and returning of Examination Materials

It is the sole responsibility of the Centre Manager to collect and return examination materials from and to collection containers, daily, for the entire period of the examination administration. The Centre manager must wake up very early in the morning to be at the collection point (KNEC Container) for dispatch of the examination materials. Already, two centre managers have been arrested  in Meru County, today, during the first day of the KCPE exams- 2018. It is reported that the said Centre managers reported to work while under the influence of alcohol and also arrived late at the KNEC container; to pick the tests. Some other centre managers are facing the same fate; infact, a handful of others were disciplined last year.

  • Lethal penalties in case of examination malpractice

The Centre manager bears the brunt for any examination irregularity at his/ her examination centre. This year, in June- 2018, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) sent home a number of principals of schools whose candidates had their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination results cancelled; last year, 2017. A TSC report showed that six principals of secondary schools that accounted for a large part of the cancellations, with 1,022 candidates affected, were given marching orders by the employer.  According to TSC’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Nancy Macharia, about 60 teachers faced interdiction over the 2017 KCSE national examinations irregularities. The KNEC act, of 2012, gives tough guidelines geared towards safeguarding the integrity of the National tests. Any slight mistake may land the Centre manager in big trouble. Read more details, here: Tough Penalties for engaging in exams irregularities

The Centre manager must safeguard the examination materials and deliver them to the examination centres and collection points, no matter what. Last year, an image of a centre manager wading through raging waters, after a heavy down pour and with the exam materials tightly held, went viral.

  • Many other responsibilities.

Apart from carrying out his/ her duties as the school’s head, the Centre Manager performs many other responsibilities as stipulated by KNEC. These responsibilities are contained in the KNEC commitment letter that the centre manager must sign.

  • No freedom of choice.

Being a centre manager is mandatory. A Principal or head teacher can not opt out of this responsibility. One automatically becomes a centre manager by virtue of being a Principal or a head teacher. Given opportunity to choose, some heads and principals may opt out of the responsibility. The job is gruesome. One has to be alert all the time. There is no room for committing even the slightest of mistakes. Needless to say that this is a do or die job!

  • Meagre pay

The Centre managers do not receive extra allowances from the KNEC, apart from the Ksh. 500 daily transport reimbursement. This is because they are deemed to be on duty and that they are paid salaries and allowances by the TSC. Furthermore, the deputy heads, boarding masters, Laboratory Technicians, Science teachers and deputy principals receive no extra pay during the examination’s administration period.

The examination pressure is so much on some centre managers that they breath a big sigh of relief once the examination administration period is done. Nevertheless, the Centre Managers are ready to press on with this noble responsibility.

Here at the Blazenews Digital Team, we extend our message of good health to the Centre Managers countrywide.


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