Teacher’s Mind : Academic cheats deserve heavier punishments

By now, it is clear that the much anticipated 2010 FIFA World Cup is close to an end. At the academic front, the second school term for both primary and secondary school is also in its last weeks. 

By now, it is clear that the much anticipated 2010 FIFA World Cup is close to an end. At the academic front, the second school term for both primary and secondary school is also in its last weeks. 

At the end of the school term learners are tested on what they have learnt through examinations. In almost similar fashion, at intervals of four years, FIFA the football governing body tests the best footballers with the World Cup tournament aimed at finding out which country in the world has the best team. 

Both footballers and students spend long periods of time preparing for these events. Preparations here will always involve the same format of learning and mastering what is learnt through constant practice (training). 

One thing that both students and footballers have to learn well are the rules and regulations that govern examinations and football respectively. Breach of these rules will always lead to punishment.

The degree of importance attached to an event often lures people to go and try the short cut and cheat in order to achieve the much sought success. 

A student who is aware of the existence of government sponsorship at the university may be drawn to cheating.

Both footballers and students will quickly take advantage of the blind side of the referee and assistant referee or the examination invigilators to indulge in all sorts of malpractices.

The whole of Africa saw how the Uruguayan striker, Luis Suarez handled the ball on the goal line, effectively blocking a clearly goal-bound shot that would have seen Ghana make history as the first African team to reach the semi finals of the World Cup.

Suarez was not the first, in 1986 Diego Maradona scored with his hand and just recently Thierry Henry’s handball against Ireland helped the French team to qualify for the World Cup at the painful expense of the Irish. 

My assessment would be that the light punishments given by FIFA have led to rise in cheating by footballers. It is now common to see handballs, nasty tackles and gross pretence from players wishing to benefit from a penalty after the slightest touch.

I am sure that if FIFA had a rule banning a footballer who handles a ball in the goal line from playing ever again, Suarez would not have dared to touch that ball.

But he knew that the worst punishment would still be a red card and a penalty. FIFA even refused to extend his ban beyond one match yet it was clearly against the spirit of the game and an affront to FIFA’s fair play campaign.

The same disease seems to be eating up the education sector. With light punishments being given to students caught cheating, the vice has increased to levels that put the honest ones at great disadvantage.

I know of universities that give a one year ban to cheating students. In the developed world this would simply amount to a gap year or a break for one to have a holiday or pursue something else before resuming studies. On the contrary, Makerere University is known for offering a lifetime ban to anyone caught cheating.

Some secondary and primary school teachers just deduct a mere ten marks from a cheating student. This soft punishment technically means that an exam cheat can score as high as 90 percent without using his head!

Harsh punishments do not completely rid the school system of cheats but they do a great job of deterrence. Cheating is greatly reduced if harsh punishments are in store. In my secondary school cheating always led to an automatic expulsion.

Let’s remember that cheating students will most likely turn into corrupt people in future. 

ssenyonga@gmail.com

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