CHEATING during exams is bad. And no candidate sitting for an examination should have an unfair advantage over others by either accessing a question paper or answers beforehand.
This evil has become a common occurrence every year. Just last year, 15 000 candidates were penalised for the offence but despite being repeatedly discouraged from doing it, students do not seem to heed the advice. It is a shame to know that even schools and not just students are also guilty of this sham.
Despite the 15 000 having been caught, some lucky ones might have escaped the net and may easily conclude that they are clever. Exam cheating should be abhorred by all and sundry; it has a negative impact on the social, economic and even religious fabric. In economic terms, development and productivity is compromised because the culprits, despite succeeding in their examinations, cannot apply their acquired knowledge.
Cheating also lowers people’s trust in our education system and injures the reputation, credibility and trust the people have in some schools.
That the cheating cancer rose sharply last year puts to the fore the need to thoroughly brainstorm and put in place proper policies and mechanisms to eradicate this vice. Therefore, as a precaution, it may become imperative that each candidate be asked to carry with them proper identification because some of the cheating incidents include impersonation.
Our academic institutions should revolutionalise, and embrace technology through installation of CCTV cameras in examination rooms. Though the high tech equipment may be costly, in the long run it will do a better job in reducing and even eventually eliminating the cases of cheating. Unscrupulous teachers were also accused of cheating to try and improve their records. Teachers should explain what cheating is to students. This is one way students will know that their teachers care about the integrity of the examinations and the results that come thereafter. The exam body should also avoid setting predictable questions. Examiners should do their best in ensuring they set questions, which cannot be easily predicted. The increasing probability to which students can predict questions has resulted in them thoroughly revising those questions.
Strict punishment to offenders is one other way of dealing with the menace. Punishment among offenders should be deterrent enough to make students fear cheating in exams in future. The consequences should be clearly deterrent so that students make the right decisions and report any cheating incidents.
Invigilation should also be strict. The current situation where some pupils allegedly sneaked into exam rooms beforehand to attach notes beneath their assigned desks shows that some invigilators don not take their jobs seriously. They sleep on duty. They should take seriously the responsibility to combat the act of cheating.
We sincerely urge the national academic examinations body – Zimsec – to consider these stringent measures against examination cheating.
After all, their credibility as an academic examination body and the credibility of our country’s education system too depend on the exam body’s ability to stamp out such vices.
While we welcomed the transition of having our national academic examinations being set and administered locally as a move towards empowerment and self sustenance, it is sad that reports of exam paper leakages and cheating give ammunition to detractors of our country’s empowerment drive.
In any case, when people cheat in any arena, they demean themselves, they threaten their own self-esteem and in the same measure cheats in our academic examinations are demeaning themselves apart from doing a disservice to the value of our education system.
As Zimbabweans we ought to have a moral standard about what we can do and would not do.
Given our exemplary education system on the continent and beyond, cheating during examinations is one of those things we should never do let alone tolerate.
At the end of the day, someone who cheats has a lower moral standard than someone who does not. And chances are that cheats in examinations will always cheat in other areas of life as well.
We surely cannot allow ourselves to degenerate into a nation of cheats therefore this is a call to the powers-that-be to find ways to end the cancer of exam cheating in our schools.