What future, when young students demand rights to cheat in exams?

Fri, 7 Aug 2020 Source: Ivan Heathcote-Fumador

It’s bizarre and outlandish to say the least monitoring news trickling in from Senior High Schools concerning the ongoing West Africa School Certificate Examinations.

Cheating in exams was thought to be the hidden tabooed secret, a fear to be told in the open and a crime committed under cloaks of well-covered tracks.

Little evidence has been able to slip out of those last day close door tutorials and rumoured Black Mock Examinations which are held few days before examinations.

The leaked question contractors who pose as insider workers of the West Africa Examination Councils have never been unmasked neither have their financial overtures been traced even though students would be made to make contributions to buy the priced paper mineral.

Unfortunately, recent events appear to be rather daring the status quo, with students demanding to be given the right to wield the booty of the merchandize that sent the villain behind bars.

Not even the dreaded repercussions of having papers cancelled, suspended from writing for years, the dent on the image of errant candidates and the possibility of prosecution and jail term, will deter these rather lion hearted students.

Club wielding students under the command of a Female Squadron Leader, a rebel in character took the Tweneboah Kodua Senior High School by siege.

“Destroy everything. No one is eating at dining today. They want us to pull F9 to wit they want us to fail.” She commanded with all the anger in her young guts.

Their only reason, that the invigilators were too strict and would not permit them to exercise their self-justified right to cheat, copy and help each other in the examination centre.

Same action was taken by students of the Adanwomase Senior High School where the invigilators who did their holy duty of policing the exams were seen as the adversary.

At the Juabeng Senior High School, the students had the effrontery to match to the office of the DCE questioning government’s reason for purchasing free Past Questions Books from WAEC for all students when the questions will not repeat themselves on their turn to write the exams; as if that was a contract.

At the Secondi College, a male student wearing a school uniform with his bare face took to social media showing how adult his mind’s eye exalted him, to cast a piece of advice lazed with bitter pills of aspersions at the President whose free Senior High School Policy took up the bills of his education.

Some other students, perhaps inspired by what has come to be known as the constant beefs and jab speeches that have dominated celebrity pages put out videos gloating over how they had failed and how they paid 50 and 20 cedis for each subject to get leaked questions otherwise ‘Apor.’

Just when we thought the fire was gradually dying down, on Tuesday night students of the Ndewura Jakpa Senior High Technical School struck.

As if to demonstrate how well they took their electrical engineering lessons, they cut out the lights of the school at night, sneaked into the school and vandalized property including a newly handed over dormitory and classroom blocks.

Their concern was that the eagle eyes of their nonaligned invigilators and the dictates of COVID-19 social distancing protocols had completely rendered them handicapped in hatching all well-rehearsed exam room tricks.

Later two schools in the Eastern Region, the Bright Senior High School at Akyim Kokorantumi and the Only Believe Senior High Schools with the support of their teachers, have also begun complaining.

Their only claim, “there are too many invigilators in the school giving the students pressure. You know that examination has a psychological side to it.”

Just when I was about trying to reason with this teacher who spoke unanimous, he sends me absolutely round the bend. “A class of 25 – 28 students have two invigilators but WAEC says there should be one invigilator.”

These incidents border on a myriad of factors that point to failure to cultivate the moral consciousness and intellectual appreciation of these students.

First of all WAEC is very clear on the course of punitive actions that can be taken against all of the acts these students were shamelessly demanding a right to perpetrate.

On seeking or receiving help from non-candidates such as Invigilator(s), Supervisor(s), Teacher(s) or other personalities during the examination:

Where the person giving help is not a candidate for the examination in session but a prospective candidate, he/she shall be barred from taking any examination conducted by the Council for one year and will also be reported to the appropriate authority for disciplinary action to be taken against him/her.

Where cases of cheating are detected in script(s) and/or otherwise established in one paper, the result of the subject for the candidate(s) involved shall be cancelled.

Where cases of leakage are established at a centre, the entire results of the candidates offering the subject(s) involved at the centre shall be withheld.

Candidates proved to have been involved in the leakage shall have their entire results cancelled by the appropriate Committee of Council.

Where it is established that the school authorities condoned, connived at, and/or encouraged the leakage, the entire results of all candidates at the centre shall be withheld pending cancellation of the entire results by the appropriate Committee of Council. In addition, the school should be de-recognised in accordance with Rule 6 below.

Where more than half of the candidates for a subject at a centre are involved in collusion or other forms of examination malpractice, this shall be regarded as mass cheating.

WAEC even goes to cover other acts aside the actual writing of the paper including insult or assault on supervisors, invigilators and inspectors.

Where a candidate insults or assaults a Supervisor/Invigilator in the lawful performance of hi/her duties inside or outside the examination hall, or in any other way disturbs the conduct of the examination, the entire results of the candidate shall be withheld pending cancellation of the entire results by the appropriate Committee of Council. The candidate shall also be barred from taking any examination conducted by the Council for a period of not less than two years. In addition, he/she may be handed over to the police for prosecution.

As I interviewed the very disturbed Chairman of the Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools in Kumasi, a clear recommendation his leadership had sent to all school heads in the Ashanti region was to call all students and educate them on the consequences of their actions and send a strong caution that the Education Service will not condone such acts.

Rev. Father Steven Owusu Sekyere also raised another concern that opened my eye to a certain reality that has rather cowed teachers into a reluctance to exact disciplinary action against students who act untoward.

His assertion was and I paraphrase: “If you dare take some actions against students in a way that should discipline them, you the media will come at us, human rights activists will be on our necks; the Education Service will betray us and the politician will vilify us. But as for me, I will not churn out indiscipline students. I will rather sack you than allow you go out of this prestigious school of Opoku Ware to disgrace me.”

The second inference I draw is that sense of entitlement and ability to show uninformed bravado to authority. The indiscipline that is deep rooted in pride of hearts that have been left to follow their will.

This phenomenon clearly born from the kind of role models dictating the pace and ideals of the youth. Musicians and actors who smoke, use vulgar words on social media and curse authority to the admiration of adults who laugh and gear when these moral wrecking celebrities lead the way. Using them as brand ambassadors and campaign icons without recourse to the impact on society beyond vile entertainment and commercial interest.

The third is the overdose of empowerment drifting students away from the very values of respect, humility, politeness, discipline and deep sense of reverence that builds strong characters in students. The blame lies at the feet of youth coaches, moralists, religious leaders, the media, parents, parents, parents, parents, politicians, counselling units as well as teachers and school authorities.

Our inactions, neglect, immorality and failure to act when we ought, over pampering, acquiescent posturing, indulgence and laissez fait attitude can be akin to the crew dancing on top of a ship which is sinking.

One question flashed through my thoughts when I listened to the female student commanding her colleagues to destroy everything. Are these the kind of children we are grooming to take over the reins of leadership in the country called Ghana?

The extent of boiling venom exhibited by these students felt to me like a highly hazardous combustible material just waiting for a spark to unleash ravenous fire across whatever it touches. What will I do if this student and her cohorts ever decided that my nose was annoying them and decided to direct their tyranny on me?

There is a call to action. These acts cannot be left to pass as just one of the unruly behaviours of some young spoilt brats. It is a clear flicker of the dangers that lay in wait for this country. If we look beyond them to think of what kind of value books these students will be referring, to raise their own children, we wi

Columnist: Ivan Heathcote-Fumador