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Guest Feature: Examinations malpractice - A scourge to Ghana's education

Education is the foundation of the economic, social and civil development, the world over. It increases human well-being and is a decisive factor in enabling people to become productive and responsible members of society. This is so much when the effectiveness and quality of education becomes championed vis-à-vis the sectors of the world economies. No doubts, it is the bedrock of every society.

Undoubtedly, the quality of education shrinks in Africa. The genesis of this has been over the years. Sufficient evidence in various African countries abounds to this assertion (fact). In Ghana, the World Bank posits close to 60% of Ghana's human capital will not be put into meaningful use in the next 18years in view of the poor quality of the country's education system.

That notwithstanding, numerous factors are responsible for the downward slide of education, a critical issue that has been recognized for this remains examinations malpractice. Examination malpractice connotes the kind of activities that give students undue advantage or a level of upper hand over his or her colleagues.

In this article, I bring to the fore a number of such cases that are detrimental to our educational system in a bid to justify why there's an urgent need to introduce a panacea to the canker.

First, examination leakage rears its ugly head, undermining the quality of education in Africa and for that matter, Ghana. This is seen as an activity that gives students prior knowledge of the questions to be tackled or answered, before the scheduled (alloted) examination date.

Examination leakages are usually attributed to lecturers (teachers) or examination officials who advertently or inadvertently avail the given or set questions to students. As a result, it has spread and reached the shores of African intuitions of learning. Verily (Sadly) there seem not to have been a programmed curative antidote to nip it in the bud hence, its dire effect on the quality of education within Africa.

Additionally, students also copy directly from each other during examinations. In such cases, a colleague displays the content of his answers (responses) to another for direct copying or whispers to the other students to copy. "Dubbing" or better still "Ditodito" some students in Ghana call this unacceptable development.

Another form of examination malpractice is the issue of sex for marks (grades). This takes its centre stage in the tertiary institutions where lecturers trademark with female students for sex in a quid pro quo affair that is gaining abnormal proportion. In the same vein, it is imperative to put on records that, the creeping effects of this canker can be seen in the basic schools.

Amongst the malpractices that their heads within the educational system of our continent has to do with the issue of impersonation; thus a situation where someone different sits for an examination for another or someone else. This to be rampant with the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), with substantial media evidence in support of this assertion.

Most of the time, the hired person is assumed to have a better understanding of the subject area and paid a sum for the "unprofessional job".  In a number of instances, such culprits have been apprehended and have faced the full rigors of the law while it becomes unsure as to the number of such incidences that went unnoticed. An obvious consequence stems from students who benefit from the scheme clearly but do not deserve the grades the got and as such endangering their practices in any sphere of national life that they are engaged in after school. Such people can be referred to as "academic armed robbers".

It is also worthy to note that, some students smuggle foreign materials known in our local parlance as "apo" for the purposes of extracting answers from them. According to research, mostly such materials are hid secretly in their socks, brassier and even in some cases written on their laps or palms. An advance form of this exist when students store answers on their phones and share to each other via WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram just to mention but a few.

Whilst the above seem to be exclusively products of students cheating in examination, persons or institutions in charge of ensuring the proper examining of students sometimes are seen or caught to be aids of these malpractices. It's common to hear of invigilators aiding students to manouver their way in the examination halls. I deem this act to be an unethical form of academic corruption, giving that those expected to curb the menace are solidly behind it.

For example, recently in the ongoing 2020 WASSCE, the Director - General of the Ghana Education Service (GES) directed that one Mathematics tutor (Mr Evans Yeboah) of the Kade Senior High Technical School (SHTS) be interdicted. From the directive, the said teacher invigilated during the Intergrated Science paper written on Monday where he used his position to engage in examination malpractice.

Or was it not because exams malpractice when the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) announced in a statement that Bright Senior High School (SHS) in Kukurantumi will be relocated to a different center for the ongoing WASSCE? What might have happened for the incitement on the part of the priorietor and students attacking invigilators over "strict invigilation"?

Looking at the consequences of examination malpractices are manifold and inexhaustible; be it to the individual, the institutions related, society in general and the nation within which the malpractices are ripe. Indeed, the falling standards of education comes the hazard of improperly trained graduates not being able to live up to the expectation in workplaces. What it means is that, if the human resources churned out of our educational sector are poor, it poses grave effects on the economy in general.

Is it institutional failure or sheer indiscipline? The war against examinations malpractice demands a collective effort etched in commitment. This will enable our country's development rest on a result-oriented human capital having the ability to generate new ideas, foster skills and most importantly perform. Hopefully, we shall overcome someday.

The author, Bright Philip Donkor is the CSA'20 Online Journalist of the Year; Communication Practitioner, Social Activist, Columnist and a Prolific Feature Writer.

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