It is now quite a number of years since the Ministry of Education started releasing the KCPE and KCSE results online but every year we see the repeat of the same thing. Overworked server that can’t serve the anxious students and Parents searching for the results online. The knec website was down most of the day on December 28th after Minister of Education Ongeri released the results and this is not the first time. The famous error message below greeted most people looking for the results online:
“ERROR: Gateway Timeout: While trying to retrieve the URL http://www.knec-results.ac.ke/rdisplay.php:Connection timed out”.
Actually it is something we have witnessed every time the National Examination body releases the exam results. How long will the parents and innocent students put up with this crap? Kenya wants to pride itself as the new so called Silicon Savannah,….mmmmmh not this way!
Then there is the second option which Mr. Alex Gakuru found out that is the real cash cow for the mobile phone operators and possibly the some official and the Education ministry. Getting the results through SMS is a great idea but there is a big BUT.,.. The problem start when you send SMS and nobody tells you about the charges. Here is Alex’s take:
Essentially therefore leaving option 1 available to each of the the 775,000 pupils and (perhaps both) parents – sending index numbers to 5052 SMS service. Never mind that neither the ministry nor KNEC anywhere bother to inform mobile phone users that that messages sent to 5052 are charged at Kshs 20 per message or how long after they should expect the reply message.
Worst still is the situation for anxious parents and students who after incurring that huge charges but without the reply, would not stop there. They continue sending the SMS and some cases use for their neighbors phones thinking that theirs have problems . Look at the example here from Alex Gakuru
Two years ago, I know of a parent who sent a message to the service but after not getting any replies, sent several others afterwards. They then used different phones, then phones on different networks afraid that perhaps their phone or network were to blame. Never knew that each message cost them a whooping 20 Shs thus their total bill was enormous. They finally received irritating several SMS replies, but several days later, after they had anyway given up on the ‘wonderful’ technologies went and got to the results from the school.
Back to the website. People can still use their phones to access the results through mobile web instead of using the short codes which we all know are expensive due a number of reasons.When you look at exam results being released online , it might seems a hard thing to do but in reality it is a simple database management or manipulation which is taught in any elementary computer school. In most colleges and computer schools the database management falls under the introductory course for the students.
The next thing is buying enough bandwidth to accommodate the expected traffic. Simple, anybody who has a website usually prepare for for the high traffic and the answer is “bandwidth”. Again why people at the Ministry of Education yeah the Ministry of Education where the colleges and Universities fall under, where we go to learn about internet, servers, bandwidth….can’t get its house in order is beyond me.
There is argument that they are doing the local hosting and that the local hosting companies like KDN or Swift Global can’t handle the high traffic hence the problem. My take is whether local or abroad, the hosting company should setup enough bandwidth for the traffic, and in some cases that means paying more. But you can’t blame hosting company if the client does choose the right package for their hosting. Local hosting is the best option for anyone and for the Government, but it is high time people at the Government understand the dynamics.