As BECE kicks start, Monday, 7th August, 2023, i have taken notice of the growing Sense of examination malpractices at both our basic and second cycle institutions in the past and I think urgent steps must be taken to address these menace.
Examination malpractice is an illegal or improper conduct by a candidate of an examination with the aim to pass an exam. The ugly practice is not new but the recent syndicated malpractice among students, teachers, and workers of exam bodies future exacerbated our plight and makes no sense of our education system and its future. These widespread anomalies are putting a lot of credibility issues on the certificates of graduates.
THE BLAME ON STAKEHOLDERS
I would blame the activities of four key stakeholders that are making malpractices at our examinations centres very conducive to thrive. These stakeholders include: the Candidates themselves, the Teachers, the Exam Bodies (Insiders) and the Government.
The Candidates: A student, who is sitting for BECE or WASSCE, of course would want to pass. Some students may implore fair and foul means to get a better grade if given the chance. They have tried, all the times, to send in foreign materials (Apɔ, missile or nkitinkitin) and succeeded many times. Some even pay huge sum of monies to have their way in the examination hall.
The Teachers: Some teachers in most of these schools are the masterminds of the unending exam malpractices in our schools. They form a syndicated groups, forced the vulnerable students to pay huge sum of monies in order to acquire these exam papers before time. They equally assist the candidates to copy from each other or from foreign materials with ease. Remember that 90% of the invigilators are teachers.
The Insiders: Of course the syndicate must have to include the insiders (exam bodies) and their temporary staff (invigilators). These insiders manipulate the system because of the gains they may get and the fact that they can get away easily with it. They sell the papers before the due date/time.
The last stakeholder is Government. Government poor policies are mulching malpractices at examination centres. Inadequate learning materials, lacking of motivation for teachers and unclear policy direction for education (No repeating of non performing students, no corporal punishment, government buying past questions etc ) are making malpractices at exam centres to thrive. Of course, the only easy way to save the teachers and government from the embarrassment of poor results of poorly prepared students is to cheat the system deliberately. In preparing a learner for Examinations, it starts the day he/she enters the school and not when the learner is about to take the exam. Government deliberate policies that unmotivated teachers, embolden indiscipline among students, etc would definitely affect learning outcomes.
The depth of the malpractice now is that in most of the schools, teachers and invigilators read out loud the answers to the candidates to copy. Some teachers and collaborators will get the questions a day or hours to the paper from the insiders. They will write the answers in small sheets and photocopy them to be distributed to almost all candidates. Greater percentage of BECE or WASSCE results churned out is not genuine. The Heads, Directors, Monitors, if not collaborators, are aware of almost everything at the centres yet they can’t do anything because of it syndicated nature.
Tackling this menace in a more inclusive manner will drastically reduce it. All stakeholders must work together to nib this cancer in the bud. The mode of admission, assessment, repetition or promotion should be seriously looked at. Schools should be free to make recommendations in consultation with the parents/guardians about the progress of learners. Government should resource schools and empower teachers to work effectively and efficiently.
IMPROVING SBA, NST WHILE INTRODUCING JOINT UNIVERSITY ENTRANCE EXAMINATION.
Teachers should be resourced to adequately assess their learners using the School Based Assessment (SBA) approach. This sort of assessment gives the teacher and the school fair information about the strength and weakness of the each student. From this assessment, the school can, with consultation from the parent, choose the best option for the student.
External Exams such as BECE and WASSCE should be retooled or scraped. Instead, National Standardised Test (NST) should be intensified at the Basic 2, Basic 4, Basic 6, Basic 9, basic 10 and basic 12. The NST would be strictly monitored by the heads of the various schools, Directors, and National Assessment Board. This assessment in addition to the SBA would give a fair academic status (curricular and co-curricular) of the student for placement purpose. At basic 9 (JHS3), both NST (external) and SBA (internal) would be used for the purposes of placing the child into B10 (SHS1). After the general course (core subjects) at the SHS 1, another NST and SBA result would be needed to place them into their respective area of specialisation for two-year training. This placement would be done internally by the individual schools with special referrals, if any. Another NST would be conducted at the end of B12. A standardised university entrance exams body should be established to admit qualified applicants. WAEC could be tasked to conduct the NST or a new management set while the universities also looked at how to set Joint Entrance Examinations for Undergraduates and post graduates applicants.
MONITORING, SUPERVISION AND MOTIVATION OF TEACHERS
The successes of the any program depend on the Monitoring, supervision as well as the support system given to the Schools/Teachers. The SBA, which will form a 50% component of the overall student assessment, shall be done by the class teacher with supervision from the head, SISO, District/municipal Exams officer and the Director of education. Invigilators should be carefully selected, trained and motivated to carry on their tasks effectively and efficiently. Adequate teaching and learning materials should be provided to the schools for enhanced teaching, learning and assessment.
The classroom teacher is key in this regard, they should be motivated. Allowances and other incentives due teachers should be paid in time. Other packages in line with global practices should be fashioned out for teachers
Over the period, laws governing examination in this country has not been implemented strictly thereby making malpractices at our centres lucrative for it indulgers. I won’t propose any new sanctions because the current sanctions against exams malpractice are enough. We only need leadership who are willing to change the narrative.
Revoking the license of any defiant Examination Body (such as WAEC or Joint University Exam Body) who flout the law should be enforced. Also, punishing stakeholders culpable would serve as a deterrent to the rest.
HSE NO: BO-BO-107, BOLI