Examinations are said to have been started by one Henry A. Fischel, a professor emeritus of near eastern languages and cultures at Indiana University in the 19th century. Since its discovery, the mood of determining merit has not changed and examinations have been administered to grade students even in progressive education such as competency-based curriculum.
Examinations are a nightmare. For campus students, it’s a trying time. A moment of realization that it’s actually academics that brought you into the institutions of higher learning as opposed to a life of glam, fun and parties. It’s more of a horror movie studying the work of four months in hours before the paper. Most students comfort themselves that degree ni Harambee and end up booking themselves a seat next to the hotspot, more of the savior of the day. Others boast that by the time they get to that exam room, the difference between them and the lecturer will be the salary. Blowing one’s trumpet, huh! Making marking schemes for the examiners.
A few weeks ago, I found myself in the examination fix. It’s a covid-19 pandemic period hence after seven months holiday; you may not expect a comrade to recall much. We the finalists tried transferring the knowledge into the booklets before posting loudly on social media that it’s bye bye to the 8:4:4 system. I can however attest that the big paragraphs were more of rumor mongering and hearsays. Running out of answers, one ended up using too many conjunctions like however, morever, further more and answers that required examples and illustrations were followed by etc. after one questionable example. Afterwards, a few memes here and there were supplied for making fun of hard situations is a number one qualifier of being a real Kenyan.
Five days’ notice to open schools wasn’t received so well but it was way preferred considering alternatives like e- learning were met by a thousand excuses of why and how it can’t work in public institutions. Comrades had boycotted online exams online, blaming the government, school Managements and service providers for poor connectivity. Airtel in particular had a bad day taking the blame for good deals with zero service delivery and Safaricom wasn’t spared, getting a meme representation as gluttonous, and swift in swallowing data even before the e-learning portal has opened.
What used to be two feet apart turned into five metres. Suddenly degrees were not a harambee no matter how hard one tried. It was every man for himself and God for us all. They say positioning is very important in lecture rooms. Walls became darlings. Ability to dress without causing attention became a number two savior for no lecturer would notice your existence unless when signing out. Masks were transformed into means of slipping Mwakenyas through the hawk-eyed professors. It felt like smuggling counterfeit through border control. Comrades were on siege but exams had to be done thanks to Henry A. Fischer.
It was three weeks of cramming, fasting and praying; cramming some more before writing lies, rumors, hearsays and anything that could save a comrade from that monster for graduating with a Pass is never welcomed much. Leave alone the job industry, even village dropouts Know and will gossip till the sun sets about your questionable grade. Three weeks later, we have been tossed into a flooded job market and God knows not even those papers are going to rescue us. With us is a hefty student loan and a hopeful family waiting for us to be saviors’ from the jaws of poverty. Survival for the fittest.
written by: Bree Kimathi.