Alleged unfair marking sparks unrest

July 16, 1999

Kenyan science minister Kipkalya Kones is looking into allegations of unfair marking by national examiners of polytechnic student papers.

His move follows the indefinite closure last month of two Kenyan polytechnics following two days of violent clashes between students and anti-riot police on the streets of Nairobi and Mombasa. A third - Eldoret Polytechnic - was later drawn into the protests.

Chaos erupted when 4,000 students at Kenya Polytechnic in Nairobi and 3,000 at Mombasa Polytechnic protested at alleged unfair marking of their diploma examinations.

In Mombasa students hurled rocks at the police, who moved to clear roadblocks for traffic to the mainland. In Nairobi students and other pulled down telephone booths and sales kiosks and blocked roads.

According to Charles Atego, secretary of the Mombasa Polytechnic Students' Association, students wanted to present their grievances to government official Samuel Limo, who is also the chairman of the board of governors of Mombasa Polytechnic.

In Nairobi the students had planned to demonstrate outside the examinations council offices. They accused the body of

corruption and causing mass failures in the polytechnics.

The students demanded that diploma-awarding polytechnics be allowed to form a unified examining body to replace the examinations council in the testing and assessment of technical education in Kenya.

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