Final Examinations – Who’s cheating who?

As another session of ZIMSEC Examinations draws near, there is an ever apparent air of ‘wait for it!’ as people wait to hear of some mishap or the other during the exams. Statistics and examples written in many articles about examinations misconduct are all fair and good to those who are in authoritative positions where administration depends on these. Today however the Examiner wishes to draw the attention of those directly involved in the examinations that is, the Teacher and the student cum candidate.

An eminent social psychologist, Philip Zimbardo, noted: “Human behaviour is more influenced by things outside us than inside.” That is to say, when looking at issues to do with malpractice, we need to consider the society (social morals and behaviours), dispositional factors that affect behaviour and the general mind-set of the candidate.

In a competitive and result driven environment the lessons taught in the classroom are more likely to put emphasis on the pass mark or grade rather that the individual capacity and resultant grade. This then places unwarranted pressure, stress and strain on the average or below average candidate to achieve marks which to them are almost unattainable. Education is a lifelong process and the Primary and Secondary school stages lay the basic foundation needed for one to establish themselves. When looking at the reasons why some children cheat, it is due to the simple lack of application and understanding. This has been a potential downfall of teaching for the exam, as many of our secondary educators are being forced to do – students aren’t able to think and problem-solve for themselves.

Question paper leakage has become a regular phenomenon in examinations in recent years. It has placed the credibility and quality of exams, and reliability of the results under a question mark. Every time any public examination is held and there is allegation of question paper leakage, contrary to what people may think, it is the Nation as a whole and the candidates, past and present, who bear the consequences of this abominable action. The aim of education is to enlighten people with the light of knowledge and take them beyond all parochialism by broadening their outlook. An important function of education is that of socialisation. A simple explanation of what this means is that education will teach people the socio-cultural norms and values and awaken and develop their physical, intellectual and moral state and subsequently will make them ideal citizens of society as a whole. But if students at such a young age as sixteen get involved in a crime like passing with the help of leaked question papers and see that such crime can go unpunished, an attitude of carelessness towards the law will develop in them. They will be encouraged to engage in criminal activities, rather than intellectual practice. Consequently, the nation will get a socially, culturally, morally and intellectually degraded future generation.

Security of examinations goes beyond technological advancement, armed escorts and other exceptional security methods, it reaches into the mind-set of the individual and the supporting surrounds. Students need to be made aware that the short cuts that they use in the foundation of their education will show as they advance, for when introduced into tertiary colleges or the professional work environment the cracks will show as what they were meant to know, understand and implement, they are incapable of doing so.

We look forward to producing a breed of educated and morally upright champions who will spearhead the nations vision of Socio- Economic Transformation, a better tomorrow for all.

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