As the month of October draws to an end, so does the third term of the academic year for primary and secondary schools.
At this point in time, those in candidate classes must have started feeling the heat of the approaching national examinations that will be instrumental in determining their next academic step.
By now most students who are not in candidate classes have started their end of year examinations. The goal always is to perform well and move on to the next class.
Before these exams, teachers go through all the material they have taught and choose the relevant sections from which to examine their students. On the other hand, students embark on an extensive revision programme that usually covers everything they have learnt all year round.
National examinations always follow strict guidelines set by the Rwanda National Examination Council. Any breach of these guidelines will most certainly lead to disqualification of the candidate, entire examination centres or criminal charges against teachers who act as accomplices.
For the other classes the situation is usually different, less tense and strict. However this should not be an excuse for cheating. School authorities have to make an effort to ensure that the environments under which examinations are held are up to date.
For example, the cancer of examination malpractices must be dealt with effectively. Students caught cheating should be dealt with to set a deterring example and let others know that it is not acceptable for one to cheat in ANY exam.
The stories of students cheating even at the university level are clear examples that the vice is nurtured in their lower education levels; if one survives being caught then they will continue with the habit to universities.
These exams need to be conducted in a spacious atmosphere so that students do not find it easy to cheat by looking on the sides to see what their neighbours are writing. More so, a spacious environment creates the suitable impression that it is indeed an examination not just a test.
Schools must endeavour to have the exams typed out neatly. For crying out loud, this is 2010 and schools that are still offering exams by writing on the blackboard or photocopying handwritten stuff are nothing but unserious. I also know of a school where the exam questionnaires have been typed out in a font that is next to impossible to read. The school authorities did this apparently to save print paper.
It is very important for these exams to have a time setting similar or close to what the national examinations take. This is because it is very important for students to get acquainted with the real examination practices early enough.
It is also imperative for the students discipline to be at its utmost during examination periods. Discipline is a foundation of all success. Even successful thieves are known to be extremely disciplined. Therefore students cannot be expected to perform well if their discipline levels are at their lowest.
Students have a tendency of thinking that they are untouchable since the year is coming to an end. Such laxity should not be tolerated at all and school rules must be enforced to the very last day of school. Students should appear for exams in full school uniform and on time.
Above all, students need to be well prepared for exams. Apart from revising their notes, they have to make sure they show up with all the necessary scholastic materials necessary for their examination like calculators and geometry sets.
The practice of borrowing these during the exam is destructing and often facilitates cheating. End of year examinations must be accorded due seriousness by students and teachers alike.