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A Look At The Firm in Charge of Printing Kenya’s Crucial Exams

by Paul Nyongesa
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Azimio leader Raila Odinga has thrown the 2023 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) results into disarray, asserting that grades in science, social studies, and religious studies were intentionally manipulated.

Speaking at a press conference, Raila pointed fingers at the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC), accusing it of compromising the examination process.

Raila alleged that the rot within KNEC led to candidates being graded for subjects they never sat for.

He highlighted an alarming instance where an entire class in one school scored the same grade in science, indicating a systemic flaw.

The deployment of a grading system capable of producing plus or minus signs added to the gravity of the situation, according to Raila.

Furthermore, Raila claimed that the administration awarded the printing contracts for KCPE and KCSE exams to a politically connected local company on Mombasa Road in Nairobi.

This company, in turn, outsourced the printing services to a company based in India, resulting in a hurried printing process.

Adding fuel to the fire, Raila asserted that a UK-based firm, whose contract was canceled, refused to provide codes essential for the security features embedded in the exams.

This sudden change in the printing process, done on short notice, is alleged to be the catalyst for the unfolding disaster in the KCPE results.

Raila also accused the procurement process for relaying results to the public using the shortcode 40054 of being marred by corruption.

The contract, originally with a different provider, was abruptly awarded to a company ill-equipped to handle the task, leading to discrepancies between results received through the shortcode and those on the KNEC portal.

As the controversy deepens, it is imperative to scrutinize the company at the center of the storm.

Since 2016, the responsibility of printing Kenya’s national exams has rested with Steven Austin Printing Limited, a UK-based company with a long history dating back to 1768.

The firm boasts world-class expertise in security printing, packaging, and distribution services, catering to high-stakes examinations globally.

According to their official website, Steven Austin Printing Limited produces and distributes over 100 million assessments annually to more than 160 countries.

The company’s involvement in printing Kenya’s exams was a strategic move by the government in 2016 to address the rampant cases of examination malpractices.

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