Third Eye

Step up the war on examination cheats

Friday, March 18th, 2022 00:56 | By

Many sighed with relief when Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha, before the start of the national examinations, announced that the ministry had dismantled cartels involved in exam cheating. It seemed like a great achievement that would turn a perennial problem into a thing of the past. 

However, this announcement seems to have been premature as there have been cases of cheating and leakages just a week into the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams. 

Already, a number of students have been arrested for cheating, a few for impersonating candidates, and teachers and invigilators for participating in the fraud. A student from a local university was arrested for selling fake papers on social media.

Reports indicate that mobile phones have become the greatest challenge in the fight against cheating in the exams, something the ministry has acknowledged. From screen shots to WhatsApp messages, the new modes of cheating mean that the ministry must go back to the drawing board and find new ways of fighting the menace.

Last year, a number of cabinet secretaries took part in supervising national exams, offering a layer of confidence and security. This year, many of them are keeping their eyes on the ongoing political campaigns and electioneering period, leaving the Education CS to his own devices. 

While cheating in exams is not new in Kenya, it has evolved over the years. The ministry had tried to keep up with the evolution and managed to bring sanity in national tests. Indeed, adequate preparedness ahead of examinations as well as continuously keeping up with new technology and strategies is key to fighting this perennial problem.

Importantly, as a country, there is a need to interrogate the mindset that pushes individuals to cheat. The pressure that comes with national exams – both KCPE and KCSE, and the “all or nothing” attitude must be re-examined if we are to eliminate the cheating bug. 

That the previous punishment, including cancellation of exam results, prosecution and refusing to rank affected schools, seems not to have stopped cheating means we must go back to the drawing board.  Addressing the core issues and ensuring that those involved, especially teachers, invigilators and even schools management, are punished would go a long way to curb the malpractice. 

A  collaboration between all education stakeholders including parents and students, too, should be a priority in addressing cheating in exams. 

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