THE National examinations for secondary school level kicked off this week. And typical of all other examinations that characterise the education systems of most third world nations, the importance of these exams cannot be over emphasised.
They literary have the ability to shape one’s future in this part of the world.
Therefore due to the high stakes involved some students are compelled to do anything for to ensure success. Some of the strategies consequently will border on the illegal.
The practice of students cheating during examinations goes way back to the introduction of the exams themselves.
Cheating in exams is indeed illegal and unfair as it goes against the fair spirit of competition. For this reason, the examination body which in this case is the Rwanda National Examination Council (RNEC) has a duty to ensure that the integrity of the exams by fighting the practice of examination malpractices unreservedly.
Anyone who has interacted with our education system must have realised a tendency by some students to try cheating in exams in order to pass easily.
This habit has not only been identified at the secondary level but also at the university.
Needless to say, it only serves to undermine the integrity of our education system and fighting it should not be a question of when but how.
Although most schools may not have done a good job at fighting this vice, the examination council must steadily deal with this problem. Teachers and students must be clearly told what is acceptable and what is not as far as the examinations are concerned.
Things like mobile phones and written materials should not be allowed anywhere near the examination room.
Students must also be seated in such a way that none of them is able to look into the other’s script. Before entering the room the invigilator must first check the room and then the students.
Extreme vigilance should be maintained throughout the course of the exam. For this to be achieved, a teacher should not indulge in any other uncalled for activities like reading newspapers.
More importantly, heavy punishments must be prescribed by the examination council in order to deter the cheats from doing their thing.
Those caught in the practice must be disqualified without fear or favour. In the same light, a teacher found aiding the vice must also be dealt with squarely.
Other examination councils in East Africa are also trying hard to fight this vice. In Kenya for instance, The East African Standard newspaper reported that, the Kenya National Examinations Council had warned that candidates caught cheating could be barred from sitting exams for a whole two years.
Mr. Paul M Wasanga, the council’s secretary said this will be in addition to cancelling the candidates’ results in the subjects or papers in which they cheat and getting an overall Y grade (the lowest grade).
Similarly, the Ugandan National Examination Board’s Executive Secretary, Mathew Bukenya also warned all head teachers, heads of examination centres, parents and candidates to steer clear of any form of malpractice according to an interview he had with The Observer newspaper.
Head teachers and those in charge of examinations must do a good job as far as bring the examination regulations to the attention of the candidates, teachers and other stakeholders and to warn students not to engage in any form of cheating.
Students must uphold the virtues of honesty and hard work by avoiding cheating.
A teacher clearly found to have aided the practice of cheating, ought to have his/her teaching license revoked as a way of deterring others from engaging in the same act in future.
If this vice is not dealt with squarely then our education system will not only produce fake products but also those bent on cheating at any given opportunity and thus aggravating the bigger problem of corruption in society.
To those not bent on cheating, success is all I wish you.