NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The Kenyan government on Thursday dissolved the national examination board and will arrest its members after they were implicated in widespread cheating on the university entrance exams, officials said.
The cheating scandal comes as Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is in the midst of a high profile campaign to combat the corruption endemic in government and society where an estimated $6 billion is lost to graft annually.
Education Minister Fred Matiang'i said the top members of the Kenya National Examination Council had all been implicated in what he called "unprecedented cheating" in this year's exams. Internal Security Minister Joseph Nkaissery ordered the arrest of nine members of the board.
Some half million high school students sit the exams annually and last year results for 5,101 candidates were cancelled for cheating. Investigations by a local media house suggest there were many more cases.
Kilemi Mwiria, Kenyatta's advisor on education, said the cheating in schools is a crisis, with teachers helping students to cheat and parents buying examination papers.
"This is a reflection of our society — we glorify thieves — young people say they will do anything to make it," he said earlier this month in a TV interview. "Everybody steals from the other one — the pastors are stealing from their flock, the policemen are stealing from everybody else ... and that is what the young people see and everybody seems to believe you have to cheat to succeed."
Kenyatta has now appointed former University of Nairobi vice chancellor, George Magoha, to be the new chairman of the examinations board to clean up its image.
Kenyatta took office in April 2013 and has repeatedly promised to eradicate the rampant corruption. Despite firing six ministers, critics say he is not doing enough and the worst offenders remain free.