For the first time, the Malawi National Examinations Board (Maneb) has admitted that its long-time efforts to deal with cheating and other exam malpractices have failed to bury the vice. A whole national conference on eradication of examination malpractices speaks a lot of how deep the issue is for Malawi.
It seems the more strict measures are administered, the more escalating the cases. And Maneb even admits that perpetrators of the malpractices continue to devise new techniques to beat the [advanced] systems. It is good to learn that the board admitting this as that entails the possibility of devising better solutions. But certainly, most cheating techniques are not as complicated to stop the board from curbing the vice completely. It is quite exasperating when the malpractice is even perpetrated by the exams administrators themselves.
Maneb has continued to assure Malawians that they are doing their best to put an end to the malpractice among candidates, but we reckon the way out is a total overhaul and reformation of the education sector. Instead of dealing with the perpetrators, Maneb and all agents in the education sector should go further and check the actual causes of the malpractices and deal with them accordingly. Quite often, it is not only the students involved, but there are outside forces as well. The conduct of the teachers, parents and guardians, the examiners, availability or lack of resources, poor quality of the teachers, unbalanced student-teacher ratio are all factors that contribute to exam malpractices. Pupils need to get good quality education and complete the syllabus so that they don’t see the need to cheat. No problem is ever solved without rooting out the cause.
At the heart of all the cheating is the fact that the national education cake is not shared equally. At every level, there are multiple factors that pull others back from getting education. And in their quest to have that piece of education cake, they find themselves cheating so that they can force their way through. This must be dealt with as one of the measures to curb exam malpractices in our primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.
Maneb and Anti-Corruption Bureau’s commitment in dealing with this issue cannot be faulted but our hope is that their stakeholder meeting will go beyond simply exchanging experiences and concerns but rather devise a solid strategy to permanently deal with examinations malpractices. Already, we are dealing with a continuous churning out of half-baked graduates into the labour industry. This calls for all institutions to be involved and regard this challenge as their responsibility. From teaching children to embrace good reading habits at a young age, to hiring professional teachers, let us all put in our efforts to put this malpractice to a stop. If left unchecked, this spells doom for the country.