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The Kenya National Examinations Council knec.ac.ke was established on 1st August, 1980 under an Act of Parliament following the collapse of the East African Examinations Council.

Historical records reveal that the issuance of educational certificates in Kenya begun through the Education Ordinance 1924. In 1927, the Ministry of Education was mandate conduct the Cambridge School Certificate and other examinations which were being set by overseas examination bodies. The Education Ordinance of 1931, empowered the governor in council to issue rules laying down conditions for the issue of teachers? certificates for various grades. In the same legislation, the Director of Education was empowered to publish conditions and requirements for an examination (Colony and Protectorate of Kenya, 1949).

By 1948, Africans were subjected to examinations at intervals of some four years. These examinations included Common Entrance Examinations (CEE) at class four, Kenya African Preliminary Examination (KAPE) at the end of junior secondary school or Form Two, the Kenya African Secondary Examination (KASE) at Form Four. These examinations were organized, with the approval of the Director of Education, by the Chief Inspector of Schools. Whereas CEE was provincial based, the KAPE and KASE were national examinations which were accompanied with certificates. Competitive entrance examinations were used for purposes of selection of pupils for admission to the primary cycle. No certificates were issued in testimony of CEE.

At the same time foreign bodies such as Cambridge Local Examination Syndicate, Makerere University, London University, London City and Guilds among others (Colony and Protectorate of Kenya, 1949) organized examinations for candidates at Form Four and at Advanced level. By 1960, administration of examinations was still the mandate of the Examinations Officer who worked under the chief inspector of schools. The examinations section of the inspectorate was responsible for the local organization of the Cambridge School and Higher School Certificates Examinations. The chief inspector of schools also took charge of academic, professional, and commercial examinations which were allowed by foreign bodies to be taken locally. Upon independence, Ominde Commission (1964) recommended the establishment of an East African Examinations Board. The new Examinations Board would be responsible for all examinations in East Africa. The Ominde Commission (1964) suggested that the East African Examination Board should eventually assume full control of examinations in technical and commercial subjects, taking over, from United Kingdom ? based examining bodies, subject by subject.

In 1967, Kenya, together with Uganda and Tanzania, formed the East African Community. The three countries adopted a single system of education, the 7-4-2-3, which consisted of 7 years of primary education, 4 years of secondary education, 2 years of high school and 3?5 years of university education. Under the system, which was similar to the British system of education, children began their elementary (primary) education at the age of 7 and completed at the age of 13 after sitting for a regional examination known as the East African Certificate of Primary Education (EACPE). After primary education those who passed very well proceeded to secondary school which ended four years later with the writing of the East African Certificate of Education Examination (EACE). The highest level of education that qualified one to attend university was attained after two years of high school at that time distinct from secondary school with students sitting for the East African Advanced Certificate of Education (EAACE).

With the collapse of the East African Community in 1977, the National Committee on Educational Objectives and Policies (NCEOP) (1976) recommended establishment of a national examinations council to be known as Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC). The national examinations council was to coordinate examinations at all levels except university in Kenya. NCEOP (1976) further recommended additional responsibility for KNEC which would include setting standards and organizing examinations in all areas. Besides, they recommended that KNEC evaluates training and qualifications obtained from outside Kenya.

National Committee on Educational Objectives and Policies? (1976) recommendation was implemented on 1st August 1980 when, Kenya National Examinations Council was established with the enactment of the Kenya National Examinations Council Act (Cap 225A, Laws of Kenya).

The Council?s Act (CAP 225A, Laws of Kenya) was supplemented by the Sessional Paper No.6 of 1988 which formalized the recommendations of the Presidential Working Party of 1988. The paper emphasized on coordination and harmonization of the examinations and certification of all national examinations for school and post school training institutions except the universities. The Council effectively took over the preparation and administration of examinations hitherto conducted by both the former examinations section of the Ministry of Education in Kenya and the defunct East African Examinations Council. It also adopted the exiting examination syllabuses and award regulations for the examinations.

The examination names were changed from their regional identity to a national identity. The East African Certificate of Primary Education became the Certificate of Primary education CPE), the East African Certificate of Education became the Kenya Certificate of Education (KCE) and the East African Advanced Certificate of Education became the Kenya Advanced Certificate of Education (KACE). In 1981, the Presidential Working Party on the Second University was commissioned to look at both the possibilities of setting up a second university in Kenya as well as the reforming of the entire education system. The committee recommended that the 7?4?2?3 system be changed to an 8?4?4 system (eight years in primary, four years in secondary, and four years in university education). Although the 7?4?2?3 system theoretically ended with the introduction of the new 8?4?4 system in 1985, the last batch of students from the former system graduated from Kenyan Universities in 1992.

The current 8?4?4 system was launched in January 1985. This system adopted eight years of primary education, 4 years of secondary education and 4 years of university education. With the introduction of the 8-4-4 system CPE became KCPE while KCE became the KCSE. The system put more emphasis on vocational subjects on the assumption that the new structure would enable school dropouts at all levels either to be self-employed or to secure employment in the informal sector.

The first KCSE exam was held in 1989 at the same time as the last Kenya Advanced Certificate of Education (KACE) which it replaced as the entrance requirement for Kenyan Universities. KCSE has since been reviewed twice, and the minimum number of subjects is now 7. This is the exam which is done after one completes four years of study in secondary (high) school. After completing the exam, one is able to go to university or college depending on the grade he/she acquired.

The functions of the Council shall be to-

set and maintain examination standards, conduct public academic, technical and other national examinations within Kenya as basic and tertiary levels,
award certificates or diplomas to candidates in such examinations; such certificates or diplomas, shall not be withheld from the candidate by any person or institution,
confirm authenticity of certificates or diplomas issued by Council upon request by government, public institutions, learning institutions, employers or other interested parties,
issue replacement certificates or diplomas to candidates or diplomas to candidates in such examinations upon acceptable proof of loss of original,
undertake research on educational assessment,
advise any public institution on the development and use of any system of assessment when requested to do so, and in accordance with such terms and conditions as shall be mutually agreed between Council and the public institution,
promote the international recognition of qualifications conferred by the Council,
advise government on any policy decision that is relevant to, or has implications on, the functions of the Council or the administration of examinations in Kenya,
do anything incidental or conducive to the performance of any of the preceding functions.


Relevance, fairness, validity, reliability and equity in all KNEC examinations;
high level of efficiency, integrity and honesty of all those officers employed, and contracted professionals entrusted with the handling of KNEC examination materials;
responsiveness to public needs;
strict adherence and respect for regulations in the conduct of KNEC Examinations;
Responsiveness to National and sectoral policies.


The KNEC ACT (Cap 225A, Laws of Kenya) specified the constitution of the Council but the composition has changed over the years in consistence with the changes in the education sector. Currently the composition of council members is as follows:

the Principal Secretary of the Ministry responsible for matters relating to education or a representative of the Principal Secretary,
the officer in charge of quality assurance and standards in the Ministry responsible for matters relating to education,
the Director of Institute of Curriculum Development,
the Secretary of the Teachers Service Commission,
one member to represent interest of persons with disabilities and one person to represent post school technical and business training institutions in Kenya, including polytechnics, both appointed by the Cabinet Secretary,
one person to represent private sector involved with management of Education one person to represent other special interest groups as Cabinet Secretary may determine and
The Chief Executive Officer



The KNEC Act permits the Council to establish committees consisting of members of the Council to deal with such matters as the Council may specify. In furtherance to this provision, the Council has established the following committees, which meet at least once every quarter:

Finance and General Purposes Committee (FGPC)
Examinations Security Committee (ESC)
Tender Committee
KNEC Medical Board
Staff Affairs Committee (SAC)
KNEC Staff Pension Scheme
Mitihani House Project Technical Committee

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  • Click Here to visit th KNEC Website
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