The government has dismissed reports that several KCSE candidates and teachers have been taken ill, after they were exposed to a harmful chemical during the chemistry practical exam last Friday.
On Monday, Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha disputed reports that the chemical affected candidates.
“I can tell you without any fear that what you are seeing on social media is rubbish. No student has been affected by the chemical,” said Prof Magoha.
Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) said it confirmed that the examiners and students were taken ill after they inhaled Xylene, one of the chemicals used in the practical exam.
The candidates were instructed to heat the chemical and observe the flame produced yet they were not provided with protective gear.
“Most of the substances we use in Chemistry are dangerous. The substance of Xylene that they are talking about is not as dangerous as chemicals such as chlorine… and these substances have been used since I was in high school,” said Magoha.
Education PS Belio Kipsang echoed Magoha’s sentiments.
“We have not heard any formal complaint. Chemistry teachers will tell you these are the same chemicals they have been using in their normal teaching processes,” he said.
KNEC is reported to have directed head teachers to buy and use Xylene as an alternative for the cyclohexane, which was unavailable in the market.
Kuppet has since threatened to sue the Ministry of Education and the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) for allowing a dangerous chemical to be used during the examinations.
Kuppet Secretary-General Akelo Misori on Monday said the chemicals used are highly flammable and have adverse effects on students and teachers.
The chemicals used included, xylene, calcium hypochlorite and bromine water.