Examination malpractices in Ghana is no longer news as students resort to this act during various examinations to pass and get selected into universities, to get a good class or to simply avoid failure and its associated stigma and humiliations.
In Ghanaian Basic schools, it is common to see children girraffing onto colleagues work to copy during class exercises. It is also common to see BECE and WASSCE questions leaked to as far as the groundnut seller days to the examination.
Several contributing factors including the home factor, the teacher and the student have been identified by educationists to have caused this canker. In situations where the home is not motivating enough for students to learn and hone in their academic potentialities and parents overburden their wards with various chores, they may not get time to learn and may resort to examination malpractices. Laziness on the part of both teachers and students usually lead to examination malpractices especially when teachers do not complete their syllabuses and students do not work harder enough.
Aside the above well known causes, there are still other factors beyond the horizon which have not be given a critical look. I categorise these causes as the national causes of examination malpractices.
We are in a country where written examinations are the only means of assessment of students level of achievement. Even practical subjects such as Physical Education, Music and Dance, Art , Weaving and Sowing are all assessed through written examinations. This means that no matter how practically good a student might be, if he/she is not able to master the English language and put on paper what is learnt, that student may be deemed as academically weak. Why then won't such a student engage in examination malpractices?
In Ghana, teachers performances are only measured by students results in examinations. Teachers are considered to have performed better only if their students pass their examinations and vice versa. The current Minister of Education, Hon. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, has hinted on the implementation of the "payment by result system" where teachers would only be paid when their students perform better in examinations. For fear of being axed from the payroll, some teachers now aid students in examinations through dubious means.
How can examination malpractices be stamped out when some schools in Ghana are more resourced than others, yet are made to write the same standardised examinations? Imagine the outcome of students in Category A schools writing the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) with their unfortunate colleagues in Category D schools with no Science and ICT laboratories, inadequate classrooms and desks and with few teachers. In such circumstances coupled with the payment by result Sword of Damocles hanging around the heads of teachers, examination malpractices become an inevitable option.
We are also in a country where students who want to study English Language are denied admissions into the universities for scoring a D7 in Mathematics. Admissions into universities are based on all-round passes irrespective of the programme one wants to pursue. This selection criteria provides a natural stimulant for students to engage in examination malpractices.
Finally, in Ghana, academic credentials and titles are hailed so much that, most students are ready to pay their way through various courses and programmes of study. This has infiltrated our modern politics, chieftaincy and even Churches such that when a minister, chief or a pastor is named, people are cock ears ready to hear the academic title accompanying the name. Shall we ever name a Moderator of a church without a PhD.?
We need to look beyond the horizon. The nation needs to review the placement system and method of assessment so as not to put any student at a disadvantage. Every school should be well resourced to provide fairness in the writing of the standardised examinations. If schools are well resourced, the nation can think of installation of Close Circuit Television cameras (CCTV) into examination halls to check this ugly menace.
The war against examination malpractices demands a collective effort etched in commitment. Hopefully, we shall overcome someday.
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