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The National Assembly Education committee has directed Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) and Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to provide specific names of perpetrators of exam cheating. This came even as CA said that this year alone, at least 36 cases of social media accounts perpetrating cyber-crime in the education sector have been flagged, just about four months to 2023 national exams.

CA Chief Executive, Ezra Chiloba said the Telegram and Signal are the most challenging social platforms to manage because they do not have a centralized contact point for human-to-human consultation unlike Meta, Twitter and Google.

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“The examination period usually witnesses a surge in the number of technology-enabled examination malpractices. Over the last three years, the National Kenya Computer Incident Response Team has detected, received, and handled 98 cases of social media accounts perpetrating cyber-crime targeted at the education sector,” said Chiloba, when CA and DCI appeared before the National Assembly Committee on Education yesterday.

“In 2021, the response team handled 34 cases of social media impersonation targeted at the Ministry of Education, Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) and Teachers Service Commission (TSC). In 2022, it handled 28 cases while we have so far received 36 cases,” he added. To curb cases of social media impersonation, Chiloba said the response team has facilitated verification of genuine social media accounts for KNEC and the TSC. Chiloba cited possible threats to national exams integrity using technology to include an increase in the level of access to smart mobile devices coupled with access to affordable broadband.

“Internet has led to an exponential increase in the public use of social media platforms, the predominant channel for perpetrating examination fraud. This has been aggravated by increased popularity and use of new and existing social media platforms in Kenya,” he said.

Chiloba also stated there is usually an increase in the use of unregulated Over-theTop Services (OTTs) and reportedly, the most popular platforms for perpetrating this are Telegram, WhatsApp, and Signal, and as a result have a huge following.

“These platforms have therefore been used to spread exam misinformation, exam fraud, and illegal distribution of exam material, among other cyber-related offences,” he explained. Similarly, he said the country has a highly tech-savvy youthful population with technical know-how, who perpetuate unabated cheating during examinations as compared to older employed generation of teaching staff and exam officers.

Some of the challenges to curbing exam cheating, said Chiloba include delays in take-down and verification of social media accounts occasioned by the internal processes and policies of social media platform providers. “There is need to develop local laws that will regulate the operation of social media platform providers in Kenya,” he said.

Similarly, he said dynamic nature of social media and digital platforms calls for the need to keep cyber security management systems up-to-date, which requires heavy investment in systems and continuous capacity development. He also said there are low levels of awareness which leaves the general public vulnerable to the threat of examination fraud adding that despite interventions, the human element remains the weakest link in perpetrating exam fraud.

But the education committee, led by Julius Melly was disappointed over scanty details the two agencies provided when they responded to questions on alleged cheating and malpractices in the 2022 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE). “The committee members asked them (CA and DCI) why they are not specific to the culprits.

You cannot generalize and say university students or teachers… you must be very specific because we have phone owners who are registered,” said Melly. Melly insisted that people who peddle this vice are known and hence the directive for the two agencies to bring to the committee specific issues, including the officers involved.

“We want to know who these people are, we want to know them by name and the crime they have committed that is why we cannot buy it up because it looks like DCI and CA were not opening up,” he stated. He was confident the two agencies will provide information the committee requires next Thursday.

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