Examination malpractice: an ugly social virus
The concern for quality and goal-oriented education in Ghana has necessitated the Oral Village Ideas to talk about Examination malpractices in our country. How would you as a parent, take it if you find your son’s or your daughter’s name and picture in the Newspaper having been expelled from school due to examination malpractices? Too bad isn’t it? But we witness a lot of them in this country. I have always maintained that a nation is driven by the quality of education provided for her citizens. However, education in Ghana today can truly be said to be bedeviled by numerous problems one of which is examination malpractice.
Examination malpractice is a situation where students go into the examination hall with various items to cheat. These include the use of already answered question papers, answers written as texts on phones, copying neighbor’s work, using key point’s notes etc.
A form of corruption
The problem of examination malpractices in Ghana seems to be as old as the introduction of formal system of Education. Examination malpractice as a form of corruption and corrupt practices has crept into the fabrics of all levels of the educational enterprise in the country. There has been major incidence of Examinations malpractices in this country, which has led to the arrest and imprisonment of offenders. It is evidenced that stringent measures put in place still do not deter people from engaging in examination malpractices.
Investigations conducted in my attempt to use drama as a means to curb the practice has revealed how some teachers help Students to engage in examination malpractices by coaching them just before examination and the changing of incorrect answers afterwards. This trend is being used by the schools involved to improve their position in the performance tables, which have become a key indicator for parents choosing a school for their children. Let’s pray that my Drama Script is ready for performance.
In view of the adverse effects that examination malpractices have on the educational system, it becomes necessary to critically examine it. At what stage do examination malpractices occur, what are their impacts on the students themselves and on educational standards?
It is very interesting to note how Examination malpractices could be seen as by product of existing societal ills. A number of different forms are employed by students to carry out this nefarious act. Some of these forms are unimaginable to the extent that it can beat the most vigilant invigilator during the conduct of examination. Some of the various methods have been cast into this play production as allegorical characters. They boastfully come on stage and declare their stance in the business. (As the curtain goes up, the first character appears on stage)
CHARACTER ONE: (Clearing the throat)
My name is Micro-chips. I am also known by students as “apor’’, reminder, ammunitions etc”. I am the most common or popular form employed by students to engage in examination misconduct. I am simply a method whereby the student copies/summarizes relevant aspects of the recommended textbook by the lecturer in very tiny manner on pieces of papers, table, chair, walls/blackboards of venues of the examination, in sensitive parts of their bodies like breasts, thighs, identity cards etc. in the course of the examination, these micro-chips that may be hidden in their pockets, socks, shoes, bags, calculator, braziers by the female students, etc are used if found relevant..I have so many other brothers and sisters. (Calls) my sister it is your turn to display your efficacious methodology.
They call me Giraffe, the most beautiful and a very tall African living thing with an extremely long neck, legs and a small head. As my name implies, giraffing is the process in which the student stretches his/her neck so as to spy or have a glance at other students’ answers and reproduce same as his/her answer. I am the safest, simplest and most common among students.
Sorting is my name. I happen to be a system whereby students negotiate with willing /teachers/lecturers for undeserved scores by rewarding the latter in cash or in kind. I am a twin brother to … (Stretches the arm) my brother, speak
Thank you brother! Distinguished ladies and Gentlemen hear my voice. My name is ECOMOG a.k.a ECOWAS a.k.a OAU: As the name and knick names suggest, I am an alliance between and among school mates who are mutually compatible. My creative art is executed in three ways: via coded language, using the fingers or in whispers or through a question paper on which inscriptions have been made and then exchanged. The third device is through a clever male student or a female student and a weak female or male sitting close to each other while the paper is written for weaker student by the male/female counterpart.
Dear reader, as the drama enfolds, the stage manager breaks protocol and decides to narrate the rest of the story himself.
Dear audience let me at this juncture introduce the rest of my cast to you. The one I am going to call onto the stage right now is Computer: It is a device used to store information in coded language. It is used effectively and cleverly. Unsuspecting invigilators are easily hoodwinked since they may bypass such a device for a calculator. The next is…
The Contractor organism: It involves three actors. The attendant, who exchanges a question paper with an already prepared answer script, written for the “contractor” student by a “mercenary” student, at a designated point, this contract is successfully executed through the attendant who co-serves as the middle man.(walks slowly to the other character standing quietly by the wall. He points at him)
The Super-print Method. This wryly scheme represents an umbrella term that embraces any manner of inscriptions on clothes, caps, white handkerchief, phones etc. My last but not least is the almighty…
Impersonation: This is a situation whereby a supposedly bright student or an outsider clever student is hired to write for the student he is impersonating. The system thrives where students do not necessarily have to go in with their identity cards. Even when ID cards are required, it is not a problem. A student can gain entrance into the examination hall with a defaced identity card. We should therefore be very vigilant.
At this point, one may question. What are some of the causes of Examination malpractices? A head teacher of one of the Senior High schools, name withheld had this to say…
Causes of Examination Malpractice
“It is an established fact that examination unprofessional conduct which has assumed all distressing proportion is mainly caused by a number of variables/factors. An attempt shall be made to highlight some of these factors, as follows”:
1. The Student: In the school set up, examination is administered primarily on students. Some students these days are generally lethargic and languid. They are not prepared to labor. They hardly study and get ready for exams. They judge wrongly that money can do everything for them. Instead of studying/reading to pass an examination, they are very busy planning how to cheat. The level of performance of students these days appears to be determined by how best they can bamboozle in examinations.
More importantly, the feeling of inferiority complex to which any student that fails exam is subjected in the school, at home and in the society at large would make the student go to any length to pass examination.
In fact, majority of students today prefer disco, parties, watching films and other trivialities to any serious academic engagement. Many female students are practicing prostitution. They “sell” their precious womanhood for marks or high grades.
2. Teachers: It is common knowledge that some teachers help students in their own departments to cheat in examinations. Some take it to the ridiculous extent of showing, or simply “selling” the questions in their own courses to their close friends – often female students. Again, such dubious students with the involvement of equally dubious teachers graduate with the class of degree/grade/certificate they do not merit. They often graduate with better grades than their mates that burn the midnight oil. The head teacher lamented “What a shame?”
In summary, he said, it is a known fact that some lecturers are being “blocked” either in cash or in kind for high grades. This is as a result of lack of responsibility, dedication and devotion to duty.
3. Strikes/Closure of Institutions: Frequent strike actions and indiscriminate closure of institutions aid examination malpractice. When institutions are closed, semester and course work are condensed and students becomes panicky and start to explore “the best means” to pass their examination.
- Influence of Negative Culture: The school is expected to teach the culture of the larger society to its members of which the students are a part. It is also expected to prepare the students to have good character as to relate positively with society; and effectively give students cognitive point of reference for development of themselves and the society. Looking at the goals that schools are expected to achieve, one then wonders how examination mismanagement in our institutions of learning has polluted the culture the school is supposed to uphold vis-à-vis the culture the students are supposed to preserve. The general urge to obtain certificate that one cannot defend has become the order of the day.
- Society’s expectation/orientation: It is the general notion of the entire populace in Ghana that once you have gone to school; you must graduate with a good certificate. Anything short of that presents you as a failure or drop out, your honour and reputation are at bet. In this respect, certificate is valued as a means to an end. Thus, all possible means, whether straight or crooked, are employed to achieve this objective.
- Socio-Economic Status of Parents: It is a truism that academic aspiration of the school child is positively related to the socio-economic status of his parents. This is so because children always imitate their parents and many of them would wish to be like their parents and so aspire to be as highly educated or even better than their parents. Some parents want their children to take up their profession at all cost. Consequently, we see a situation where some parents go to the extent of buying examination papers for their wards and also lavishing invigilators and supervisors with gifts to influence them for better grades for their wards.
- Admission Requirements: In any institution of learning, there are specific admission policies requirements. For instance, from secondary school to university level, prospective applicants are expected to possess some minimum qualification(s) before being considered for admission. In an attempt to satisfy these requirements, students know that they must possess the relevant subjects for the course of study. Therefore, some of them feel that something must be done to avoid failure in their examination so as to guarantee the achievement of their career goals.
- Employment Requirements: Qualifications are the major parameters to be used for employment or to fill vacancies in enterprises in the labour market. Therefore, getting the certificate is the most important goal to any prospective applicant. Once the connection is there in addition to obtaining the certificate, the job is secured. The effect of this is that securing a good job in Ghana depends on a good certificate, hence students who are in pursuit of such good jobs but are weak academically resort to all sorts of means including cheating in examination.
9. General Economic Ailment/level of income: In a nation like ours where there is a high inflationary trend due to the already battered economy, people seize every available opportunity to make both ends meet. People believe that without money, they cannot make it. The officials of examination bodies are no exception. For instance, some of them use their position to make money by selling life examination question papers e.g. leakage of English, Mathematics, and Geography, Economics etc.
Consequences of Examination Malpractice
The increasing rate of examination malpractice in educational institutions has become a serious national embarrassment which educationists, all stakeholders in the education sector and our leaders can only ignore at great peril. It should be noted that one of the functions of examinations is to determine student’s grades and class of result. However, frequent reports of examination malpractice have not helped the credibility of the certificates awarded by institutions and examination bodies.
Again, students/candidates involved in examination malpractice are subject to expulsion, suspension for about a year or two or have their results seized or cancelled. Teachers/lecturers, Heads/staff of schools or examination bodies could be jailed, dismissed or have their appointment terminated. For instance, some workers of WAEC were removed from office because of exam “expo” in the 90’s. In recent times, many students had been expelled and rusticated by the Academic Board of the University of Ghana, Legon, KNUST and other Universities.
· Our Educational institutions should stop the practice of indiscriminate admission of students without reference to their past moral life. This is very dangerous. Being in possession of an entering qualification is not enough. The institutions need to conduct interview for new students. As the students’ credentials are checked and scrutinized, their behaviour should also be checked and scrutinized. Lecturers/teachers should diligently rededicate themselves to their noble profession. This could serve as a potent moral situation, capable of boosting the confidence of students and dissuading them from engaging in examination malpractice.
· Students should be helped to cultivate a high reading culture/good study habits instead of contemplating on how to engage in examination malpractice. They should imbibe self-confidence to be achievers in life not depending on others or cheating.
· Parents should not aid and abet, directly or indirectly, examination malpractice. Rather, they should motivate their children by providing them with the needed school materials, not setting too high standard or ambition for them
· To stimulate and facilitate effective learning, institutions should be provided with, at least, minimum teaching/learning facilities. The present high cost of education should be reviewed.
· There should be massive campaign against examination malpractice. The fight against examination malpractice should be a collective one, involving everybody in the nation if success is to be recorded; and, \
· There has to be the immediate strengthening and enforcement of the Examination Malpractice PNDC Law 255 Act. This law should prescribe penalties ranging from fines and jail terms for offenders upon conviction.
Examination malpractice, no doubt is an ugly social virus that is speedily creating social, moral and educational epidemic in Ghana
By His Grace, I shall be back