Why we must fight against examination malpractices

This week, local media was awash with news on the recently released primary leaving and O’ level examinations results.

This week, local media was awash with news on the recently released primary leaving and O’ level examinations results.

Parents all over the country immediately sent short messages to confirm the scores of their children-thanks to technology.

 

A good number of parents were greeted with smiles by the feedback while others could not comprehend what the results indicated; some thought there were errors in the system and opted to wait to find them at the respective schools.

 

However, all was not rosy as it came out that nearly a thousand candidates had their results withheld due to irregularity or examination malpractice.

 

Education experts define examination malpractices as any act of omission or commission by a person who in anticipation of, before, during, or after any examination fraudulently secure any unfair advantages for himself or any other person in such a manner that contravenes the rules and regulations to the extent of undermining the validity, reliability, authenticity of the examination.

Hence, examination malpractice makes it possible for candidates to obtain certificates that are in conflict with their abilities.

Of course, it is a well-known fact that the objective of examination is to find out the extent to which students understand what they have been taught and therefore grade the students in order of merit or competence.

It is with this view that great importance is attached to certificates, that candidates who are desperate to succeed in life may engage in unwholesome acts, to put it fairly mildly, to pass examination by all means and at all costs in order to acquire good, but unmerited, certificate.

In fact, today many students who cheat may not even be doing it the old-fashioned way: by copying from an encyclopedia or reference book, “borrowing” a term paper or homework from a friend, or obtaining test answers from a student who has already taken the exam.

Thanks to the proliferation of sophisticated electronic technology: This has added a new dimension to cheating. It might not come as a surprise that smart phones may be tools used to cheat before or during the examinations.

Now that the students can go to the extent of inventing various subtle tricks in order to cheat during examination, the question remains how and who will eradicate examination malpractices among students? First and foremost, there is need to point out the root cause of examination malpractice and why it happens.

First, over emphasis in passing examinations at the expense of evaluating other acquired valuable skills that do not necessarily need writing an exam is one of the many reasons.

There should be other criteria that allow students to be tested in a wholesome manner.

For instance, other students do well in co-curricular which equally lead to brighter careers and success in life. Some of the most paying jobs are talent driven careers.

It is no news that athletes, film actors, artists among others are currently the world most remunerated fellows. We have lost generations of would be stars just because we over-emphasize academia at the expense of talents.

There is also an issue of over expectation and over ambitious targets set by parents and even teachers on the students. These pressures from different quarters do not take into consideration the student’s ability.

Consequently, the students resort to irregular means to attain these highly set targets. Students need to be understood, supported and encouraged to work harder but within their capabilities. Taking note that everybody is gifted differently is paramount in a student’s life.

On the side of the policy makers and examiners, they can devise methods and means that do not put examinations as a do or die factor for a student’s life. This can be done by introducing an on-going evaluation.

A student might have been doing well during the normal school days but reaching the final exams fails to prepare due to other factors. Such a student would not panic or choose to cheat if the cumulative tests would be added to the final results.

The examiners should ensure a foolproof approach to prevent cheating and ensure that candidates are well briefed of its negative consequences. They should devise an avenue of talking to students about the relation between academic integrity, professional ethics and their future chosen career.

Students are more likely to uphold integrity in academic assignments if they see it as holding more value than just being ‘another institutional rule.’

These, among other mechanisms, must be put in place in order to get rid of shocks of missing results as a result of cheating.

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