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KCPE candidates wait to bein the exam at Westlands Primary School in Nairobi on March 22, 2021. Image: ANDREW KASUKU


Some 70,000 police officers are sent to man schools during the KCSE and KCPE exams every year, but experts are divided on whether their presence offers safety or instils fear. 

Some experts argue that the presence of uniformed officers is likely to intimidate candidates; others think their presence bolsters security, but another group suggests it is a mix of both.

Nicholas Maiyo, the Kenya Parents Association chairman, said the presence of police is important more so when the school is within an area prone to insecurity.

“Take for example places like Mandera and Lamu that are prone to frequent terror attacks on account of bordering Somalia and Baringo, West Pokot that experiences banditry, the presence of police provides standby response in case of an attack,” Maiyo said.

But he finds it unnecessary to subject the students to the show of uniform and guns.

“It would be ideal if the police were dressed in civilian clothing like the security detail of high ranking officials and elected leaders,” Maiyo said.

He argues that this would assure the safety of the examination centres and at the same time ensure children would not feel intimidated.

Maiyo said that the parents’ caucus will move to call for reforms on the use of uniformed and armed police in schools. He did not specify when it would be done.  

Njagi Kumantha, a psychiatrist and former head of the Mathari hospital, said police presence in schools during the exam may be crucial should an emergency that needs security attention arise.

The uniformed men and women carrying guns and patrolling around during the examination could affect the candidates’ performance negatively, he said. 

He cautioned that no conclusive evidence has been presented on both assumptions so it would be difficult to give definitive answers on the matter. 

Kamantha said students who encounter police at school may be more likely to be criminally charged for infractions otherwise seen as “normal adolescent misbehaviour.”

An advocate who has researched juvenile justice and schools and is also a former prison warden said criminal acts in schools are infrequent and police presence is just a cautionary measure. 

The assignment of police to man KCPE and KCSE exams in schools began in the 1980s and similar programmes were expanded throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

The Education ministry requires that at least two police officers are stationed in every school during the KCPE and KCSE exam period.

Those who sat the defunct O and A-level examination say that there was minimal to no police officers during the testing period. 

“I only remember one policeman who was at the gate when I did my O and A level exams,” a source told the Star.

On normal days, schools only use security guards stationed at the gate and others who conduct regular day-to-day duties but without the powers and responsibilities of police officers.

The school security personnel are unarmed but for a rungu and refer criminal offences to the police for action.

A study conducted in Pennsylvania on the impact of police presence in the wake of mass shootings in schools in the US suggests that the presence of law enforcement officers is associated with increased student arrests and referrals to authorities. 

The study also associates police presence in schools to significant negative outcomes including school drop-out and increased likelihood of future involvement with the criminal justice system.

In Kenya, over 200 students have been arrested in the last five years due to examination malpractice.

Some of those arrested were alleged to have carried mobile phones to class. The devices are outlawed in Kenyan schools and by the examination council.

Wilson Sossion, the Kenya National Union of Teachers secretary general suggested police are likely to take action of offences that would otherwise not be considered criminal. 

He said students are arrested at higher rates for reasons like ‘disorderly conduct', which ordinarily would have been dealt with by school administrators. - Lewis Nyaundi, The Star

Vendors arrange copies of newspapers following the death of Tanzania's President John Magufuli in Dar es Salaam, March 18, 2021. Photo Reuters


DAR ES SALAAM - Earlier this week, new Tanzanian President Samia Hassan announced that media outlets shut down under her predecessor could reopen.  But the chief government spokesman said Wednesday that Hassan was only referring to online television.  Journalists are confused and not happy with the new administration.

This week, Tanzanian journalists applauded an announcement from President Samia Hassan that media organizations suspended under the late president John Magufuli would be allowed to reopen.

But a day later the mood has changed, as the newly appointed government spokesperson clarified that Hassan’s announcement applied only to online television outlets.

Neville Meena is a secretary of the Tanzania Editors Forum.  He said it appears that the ministry of information is disobeying the president’s order.  

He said that earlier, in his press release about the president’s event, the government spokesperson wrote that among the directives that the president made was to reopen all suspended media outlets. Later he comes out and reversed what he has written. In my opinion, Meena said, this contradiction was created by the same people who were there in the ministry of information for a long time under the leadership of the late John Magufuli. He said these are the same people who participated in denying licenses to media outlets.

Issa Mbura is an assistant lecturer in the school of journalism at the University of Dar es Salaam.

He said, the first question I asked myself was that what do we fear? Why were the statement and the order given out by the person in the top position later being clarified by someone with a lower position?

Information Minister Innocent Bashungwa said the government is willing to meet with owners of still-suspended media outlets and discuss the path to reopening.

Bashungwa said if there are case by case situations with other media outlets, they should go to his office to discuss the issue. He said that if there is another media outlet that wants to reopen besides online television, there were reasons for their suspension, the laws were used to come up with the decision and I believe the law has also given out guidelines to what should be done if those media outlets need to return to work.

Rights activists say there is no partial freedom of the press and it should be granted fully. Anna Henga is the executive director of the Legal and Human Rights Centre in Tanzania.

Henga said if one media outlet is free and the other is not free that is not freedom. Freedom means all people are free and this is the actual meaning of freedom. We take this as the refusal of authorities to implement the president’s instructions. A president gives out instructions and you give them another interpretation -- I think this is not something good for civil servants, she said.

As things stand now, Kwanza TV, an outlet owned by government critic Maria Sarungi, will be allowed to reopen, while four newspapers closed by Magufuli’s government remain closed. - Charles Kombe, Voice of America

The UK has halted aid funding for Oxfam following allegations of sexual misconduct against staff in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The charity confirmed last week that two members of staff in the DRC were suspended as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of abuses of power, including bullying and sexual misconduct.

In a statement, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said: “All organisations bidding for UK aid must meet the high standards of safeguarding required to keep the people they work with safe.

The Charity Commission and FCDO have been notified appropriately and we will continue to keep them informed as the investigation concludes its work

“Given the most recent reports, which call into question Oxfam’s ability to meet those standards, we will not consider any new funding to Oxfam until the issues have been resolved.” ES


Kenya’s Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) announced on Wednesday that 279 people reported suffering adverse effects after taking the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

“All reported serious AEFI [Adverse event following immunization] are under investigations and none of them has resulted into fatal outcomes,” the PPB said in a statement. "Out of the 279 reported cases, 272 were mild and resolved within a short period."

Deputy Director of the PPB Peter Mbwiiri Ikamati, who spoke at a news conference earlier in the day said one person died from an adverse event following immunization.

But the PPB later recanted and said that “there was a misreporting of an adverse event following immunization (AEFI) as fatal.”

The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported 1,523 people have tested positive for the virus from a sample size of 7,423.

Total positive cases are now 141,365 and cumulative tests conducted are 1,530,736 in the East African nation that has 52.5 million people.

A total of 616 patients have recovered from the disease bringing the number of recoveries to 97,194. Eighteen deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours, all are late death reports from facility record audits. Cumulative fatalities stand at 2,276.

The Ministry of Health announced that 339,893 people in Kenya have been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine as of Tuesday -- 99,084 are health workers, 27, 945 security officers, 45,877 teachers and 166,987 are other members of the public, including residents who are 58 years and older. By Andrew Wasike Shimanyula, Anadolu Agency

In Summary

•On April 3, the IMF approved a Sh255 billion loan for Kenya which the Treasury says would be used to support the next phase of the Covid-19 response and address the urgent need to reduce debt vulnerabilities.

•Kenyans have consistently protested the loan citing lack of transparency in government spending.

International Monetary Fund IMF

Kenyans on Tuesday flocked to the comments section during a live streaming by the International Monetary Fund demanding immediate termination of loans facilities to the country.

With a common hashtag, #stoploaningKenya, Kenyans urged the international lender  to "stop fueling corruption through loans".

On April 3, the IMF approved a Sh255 billion loan facility for Kenya which the Treasury says would be used to support the next phase of the Covid-19 response and address the urgent need to reduce debt vulnerabilities. 

An initial disbursement of Sh79 billion is expected, of which Sh34 billion will be released immediately and Sh44.2 billion by June 30.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani said said the country pursued the facility as the early measures announced by the government to the effect of tax reliefs, expanded health spending, and social interventions such as Kazi Mtaani set forth the need for additional cash.

Majority of Kenyans wondered why the IMF approved the loan request at a time the country is already burdened with debt.

It was on Thursday, just a day before the loan was approved that the latest study by Infotrak suggested that most regions are opposed to the government appetite for foreign loans, the President Uhuru Kenyatta's backyard being the most resentful.

The survey said 81 per cent of Kenyans feel anxious, fearful or angry because of the debt burden.

According to the 2021 Budget Policy Statement, Kenya's public debt as of June 2020 stood at Sh7. 6 trillion, equivalent to 65 per cent of GDP.

According to the report on Ethical Development released last Wednesday, most Kenyans are concerned that future generations will be saddled with the debt and will have to repay it for a long time. 

Others feel the country will not be able to pay back and hence be embarrassed for years or worse, lose National resources , facilities and installations.

Former Mukurweini MP Kabando wa Kabando said the country had gone back to the days of Kanu when the government was dependent on loans. By Sharon Maombo, The Star

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