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28.11.2004 Feature Article

Of Our Universities And Fake Results; Who Is To Blame?

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“Accra, Nov. 17 GNA - Thirty-five students, who sought and gained admission into the University of Ghana in 2003 - 2004 Academic year with falsified results from the West African Examination Council, have been dismissed with immediate effect”. This is one of a series of news reports we have often read about falsified results in our universities. KNUST has had its turn and might soon be coming out with more God willing; time without number University of Cape Coast reported similar incidents of cheating and I believe we will be reading more.

The situation as it is begs a few questions. It is interesting to note that the rot in our universities assumes a wider ramification than we have been presented with. The following may suffice; if one bothers to do a study of students' interest in the courses they are doing, one would realise that 2 out of every 5 students are not interested in the courses they are doing. Coupled with this is the fact that most of the students are not able to tell what they will become after the completion of the course. Most students are so disappointed in their courses so much so that all they want is to finish the course and redefine their sense of direction. I am not going to go into the exegesis of this problem but suffice it to say that the situation is caused mostly by the sense of rigidity and the rather out-moded nature of the system. It has been shown that most of the modules or subjects ran in our universities have become archaic and out of harmony with modern realities.

If you go to the KNUST, you will be presented with an avalanche of courses which should not be taught at all given contemporary market demands. For example students in a faculty I am familiar with are taught computer programming even though it is crystal clear that nowhere in their jobs will they ever need programming. Yet these poor students are made to forcefully imbibe the rather difficult and intricate principles of programming. Ludicrous isn't it?

Another problem in our universities which must be brought to the attention of all stakeholders in education is the use of examinations as the criterion for determining the intellect of a student. It is unfortunate that “chew, pour, pass and forget” is encouraged in our universities. Infact prior to going to the university, I used to think that the university student is one who has a high sense of initiative, one who undertakes research and comes out with fresh ideas and knowledge; knowledge that can be added to the existing pool of knowledge. Hence during my first year you will normally find me in the library reading wide and broad. On assignments I will make sure that I put in my all, knowing that come the results I will be among the best if not the best. But nay! I was holding the wrong end of the rope. At the end of the first year, I discovered to my utter dismay that in our universities these days, the best students are those who can memorise a lecturer's notes and “pour” them for him “ditto, ditto”. I had no option than to redefine my modus operandi. And when I joined the notes-memorising bandwagon, I saw myself in the class I wanted to be. That is it; you've got to follow the crowd else you will be left behind in that stride.

This situation is what Krishnamurti debunked in his book Education And The Significance of Life. He wrote “Conventional education makes independent thinking extremely difficult. Conformity leads to mediocrity. To be different from the group or to resist environment is not easy and is often risky as long as we worship success. The urge to be successful, which is the pursuit of reward whether in the material or in the so-called spiritual sphere, the search for inward or outward security, the desire for comfort-this whole process smothers discontent, puts an end to spontaneity and breeds fear; and fear blocks the intelligent understanding of life.”

The learned man went further to observe that “……..we may be highly educated ,but if we are without deep integration of thought and feeling, our lives are incomplete ,contradictory and torn with many fears; and as long as education does not cultivate an integrated outlook on life, it has very little significance”.

Infact there were instances where students travelled abroad during holidays and came back in the middle of the semester. When they returned, all they needed to do was to get hold of the notes and hand-outs from their colleagues, photocopy them and they are sorted. What the student needs is the ability to memorise and he will pass the exams with flying colours. Sometimes they even do better than their counterparts who attended all lectures but who for natural reasons cannot “chew and pour”. The rippling or knock-on effect is the calibre of students we have in the system these; graduates who are unable to make informed decisions, graduates who are unable to construct good sentences without falling victim to grammatical errors. This phenomenon obliterates the splendour of the achievements our universities have worked tirelessly to attain.

Now, touching on the thorny issue of falsified results, it must be pointed out that this bad phenomenon is not peculiar to Ghanaian Universities. Even in advanced countries like Britain and America, people use fake results to enter Universities. In that sense all the Universities irrespective of geographical location are the same. What is different is how each one deals with the situation. . What I don't understand is how these students are able to manoeuvre their way into the system; why does it take these institutions a long time to fetch out these people. For example while still at school, we witnessed similar cases of malfeasance and a number of students were sacked subsequently. However most of these people were found only after some years (on the average 2 years). In one particular case, the student went through the system to the final year, final semester and goddamn it the, final examination paper! Just as it was time for students to put down their pens and hand in their papers, the police came in and arrested the student.

Since that day I have wondered the wisdom behind this “policy”. To deliberately allow someone to waste away four years in his or her life is the greatest comeuppance one can ever be made to suffer. Whether it is a deliberate thing or not I cannot fathom, but what is clear is that it is egregious. It must not take four solid years for the authorities to realise that someone came in with false results. In the case of the above student it was crystal clear that the student could not cope with the day to day drudgery of the academic work in the university. Some of the lecturers saw it but had to adhere to red tape. So let no one tell us that the process of investigation takes a long time.

Much as we may want to reprimand the systems and institutions in our Universities which make cheating possible, I think it is about time students in our second cycle institutions rose to their basic responsibilities. It may be gratifying to note that the heights great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flights. Some people sacrifice “enjoyment” at the secondary schools for “better days at the university”. It is certainly not easy but you cannot eat your cake and have it. Activities like “INTERCO” and things like that are very important, but our brothers and sisters have to define their parameters very well. Those who start off wanting to look like 50 Cent, Tupac, or Snoop Dogg do not turn around to want to look like Malcolm X or Dr Martin Luther. These two groups of people are two worlds apart even though they may be fighting for the same course. Some of us have had to sacrifice a bit of our social life at the secondary school so that we can have time to attend to our books. That is what it is and this is especially relevant given the rather short nature of the SSS curriculum. I agree that the situation in some secondary schools does not permit students to unearth their potentials to the maximum. However it must be borne in mind that it is tenacity of purpose and a pure sense of determination which will make you succeed in any endeavour.

The question which I want brothers and sisters in the secondary schools to ask themselves is “if others have made it, why can't I?” To the powers-that-be, Krishnamurti have the following words of admonition; “To condition the student to accept the present environment is quite obviously stupid. Unless we voluntarily bring about a radical change in education, we are directly responsible for the perpetuation of chaos and misery …” ALHAJI YAHAYA IDDI MANCHESTER- ENGLAND!!!! Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Adams Sheriff Yakubu
Adams Sheriff Yakubu, © 2004

The author has 8 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: AdamsSheriffYakubu

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