Feature Article of Wednesday, 13 April 2005
A GNA Feature By Rex Annan
Kumasi, April 13, GNA - The main objective of higher education is to equip the student with the requisite knowledge and skills to enable him or her to contribute effectively to the national development effort. This training demands periodic assessment and evaluation in form of examinations in order to ascertain the level of knowledge and competence of students.
Although examinations are not the only instrument for assessing and evaluating knowledge, it has emerged as the major established yardstick and the most practical way of assessment. This over-dependence on certificate as the key to employment has, however, led to a crazy rush by most people to try and acquire certificates either legitimately or illegitimately.
In recent times in this country, the occurrences of examination malpractice have assumed an alarming trend and this is invariably due to candidates' fear of failure, lack of confidence, laziness, and inadequate preparation and most often their inability to apply themselves to their studies.
EXTENTS OF EXAMINATION MALPRACTICES
Students have perfected the various forms of cheating in the examination halls. Some of the methods employed under this practice include bringing foreign materials into the examination halls. These foreign materials include prepared notes and materials written on palms, thighs and textbooks and they also come in with various tricks like 'hide-and-seek' and gadgets like micro-chips and magic text all designed to assist them to pass the examination instead of relying on their own abilities.
Other unwholesome developments inside and outside the examination halls bother on stealing of people's work, converting or misappropriating the scripts of other candidates, substitution of scripts at the end of the examination, tearing answer scripts for the examination papers only to complain later that their scripts are missing.
There is also seeking and receiving help from people by what they call "giraffing" and copying other candidates' work.
There are others called "towing" and "ECOMOG" which involve candidates arranging with people before hand to assist them in writing examination, seeking and receiving help from other candidates are very common in recent times. There is also collusion between two or more candidates who usually agree before hand to assist each other. Impersonation is also common among students. Under the practice, a student goes to sit for the real candidate in order to pass the examination on behalf of the other candidate. Such examination "contractors" are paid for their service either before or after writing the examination.
Leakages of examination question papers sometimes come through lecturers, faculty officers and examination officers or examination councils.
The resurgence of the problem, which has reached alarming proportion, is due to poverty or inadequate remuneration and students realising this, collect large amounts of money for examination officers so that examination papers could be leaked to them.
Mass cheating is another dimension that examination malpractice has assumed. Nowadays, the whole thing has become more sophisticated with the advent/use of electronic assisted materials. Calculators, palm tops (which are mini-computers) are sent to examination halls unnoticed. Organisers, small-sized compact discs, mobile phones, though not allowed in examination halls are sneaked in because messages could be text to them in the hall.
The problem has defied possible solutions, because most of those who indulge in examination malpractice happen to have rich and influential parents. Parents of such culprits use their influence in the society to get them out of trouble. This is so because the Ghanaian society had become decadent.
Even when they know their children are guilty, they use their positions as powerful people in the society to influence the outcome of investigations into examination malpractice. This, to say the least, is despicable.
WOES OF EXAMINATION MALPRACTICE
The dangers that examination malpractice pose include perpetual condemnation of one's conscience whereby the carrier of the fake certificate is constantly under the persecution of carrying something that is false. It also leads to professional inefficiency. The carrier knows that he is not entitled to what he is carrying.
This further leads to a problem of unfulfilled dreams because God distastes injustice and, therefore, does not condone something that is wrong.
They also bring shame and embarrassment to their families and relations. Legal sword of justice might fall on them leading to expulsion and cancellation of results.
Christian groups should campaign against this behaviour on and off campus and motivate others to replicate the same so that the message would be spread round that examination malpractice is evil and attracts God's sanctions.
Genuine conversion would help in stamping out examination malpractice since a saved soul would desist from all forms of unrighteousness.
Moral upbringing of children of Christian parents should be enhanced so that all the children are brought up properly in accordance with God's standards.
The employers of various institutions must be bold enough to verify and confirm certificates of their prospective employees because experience has shown that some certificates are being forged. Prayers are also required to stamp out these nefarious activities from our country.
Seminars must be organised at various levels to sensitise people on the evils of examination malpractice. Print and electronic media should be used and as campus campaigns held to harp on the fact that the practice is ungodly. 13 April 05