Examination Mafia: Incubator of Copy Culture

Saeed UllahExamination is the most common tool around which the entire system of education revolves. It’s the foundation stone of education system. Its schismatic nature tends to be pragmatic, quantifiable ,scorning automotive, not biased, allows for comparison, and traces student progress which paves the way for determining the academic achievement and potential of students. In Pakistan,unfortunately,cheating is an epidemic that infects academic institutions across the county. Academic integrity, a core value,ensure learning and knowledge which has been badly affected by malpractices. Cheating is a sort of cancer involving collusion among candidates themselves and between them and officials. Epistemologically, “misconduct or improper practice, before, during or after any examination by examinees or others with a view to obtaining good results by fraudulent means is called cheating in exam”.

Two major methods of cheating are prevalent: traditional and technological. The first,inter alia,includes:writing on arms, pencil case, hiding notes, leaving the room, notes on ruler, exchanging answer booklets , coded sign language, giraffing,submission of multiple scripts, impersonation or misrepresentation, photo change, and written notes on examination desks, walls, palms, clothes. The second technique is highly manipulative which entails: mobile phones, MP3 Players, calculator, wireless receivers,PDAs(A feature which is particularly useful within the iPhone is that it provides an instant messaging application allowing a student to communicate with friends instantly),invisible ink pens, wrist watches, and printed labels.

The schematic diagram of motivators of academic  malpractice is as follows: time pressure, hard exams, getting caught is minimal, punishment is not serious, improving one’s grades, monetary (or other) rewards, everybody does it, peer pressure, course was useless, taking a chance, not understanding questions, fear of failure, high course load, instructor vigilance is low, hard courses, haziness, competition with others, coping with stress, improving one’s grades, taking a chance, excessive Involvement in extra activities, substance addiction, and language myth.

Cheating is an ethical, moral failure that harms the individual and society enormously. It harms the individual by: rationalizing their cheating which leads to more cheating (in and out of academics) and compromises their own ethical, moral code; failing to engage in the authentic learning and mastery of academic material and thus harming their own education; harming their reputation (they are frauds, liars and intellectual thieves) and facing consequences that can be serious; lowering standards which can reduce the moral authority of school leaders; forcing cheaters to depend on authentic learners because cheaters haven’t learned or mastered their own academic work and rely on the creative work of others; requiring creative and honest students/citizens to spend time and effort protecting themselves (intellectual property, ideas, writing, exam answers) from cheaters which is non productive work; and , awarding cheaters with unearned rights/privileges and scholarships

In KP and FATA, it is alleged that both the public and private educational institutions collect a hefty amount ranging from RS 50000 to RS 80000 from students in order to buy loyalties of invigilation staff by providing them with board and lodging and expensive gifts. The former do for up gradation and developmental funds while the later do for maximizing strength and sheer accumulation of wealth and money. In case of any information,clue regarding malpractices, contact the following resources immediately:Sobai Ekhtesab Comission#091-5622269,ec@kp.gov.pk;Sobai Anti-CorruptionDirectorate#0919217278,kpkdace@yahoo.com.

As per ruling of Islam, Sheikh `Atiyya Saqr, former head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee,issued a Fitwa which reads:“It goes without saying that all kinds and forms of cheating are haram. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has made this clear in the hadith: “He who cheats us does not belong to us.”

For systematic, scientific elimination of this metastasizing social malady, the following measured, concrete steps must be taken on war footing:

Short-term Strategies

  1. Ban all Photostat machines inside and outside institutions.
  2. People of fresh blood, integrity be inducted instead of corrupt, old Trojan horses.
  3. Two or three inspection personnel daily equipped with electronic devices to monitor and report to the board timely
  4. Institutions must be evacuated before the paper starts till final consignment.
  5. Mopping of the un-used examination materials from the field.
  6. Prohibit the use of electronic devices including cellular phones and IPADS.
  7. Imposition of sanctions on the erring examination personnel.

Long-term Strategies (by DR. OLATUNDE A. AWORANTI)

This template could be replicated in Pakistan because Nigeria and Pakistan face similar crises on this front.

Tripartite Monitoring:

 This should be carried out by the Local Council Members, Officials of the Ministries of Education  and the Officials of the Board simultaneously. It be aimed at ascertaining that effective and efficient supervision, invigilation and custodianship are carried out without variances from the prescribed rules and regulation. Tripartite monitoring ensures the checking of the appropriateness or otherwise of other strategies put in place to alleviate this plague experienced before, during or after examinations.

Introduction of Station Work:

Experiences have shown that Bank Officials are usually too busy and in most cases do not even cross-check the Question Papers that the Supervisors take away. In order to make it impossible for dishonest Supervisors to go away with Question Papers that are not supposed to be released; the use of Station Officers should be introduced by the Board. The main duties of the Station Officer is to collect Question Papers from the Custodian and hand them over to the Supervisor and on return collect Answer Scripts from the Supervisor and keep them in the Security Bag with the Custodian. It has to play the dual role of Station Work and Monitoring. This method, though expensive, has been very effective, more so, when both Supervisors and Station Officers are swapped at regular intervals during examinations

Sanctioning the Affected Schools and Candidates:

 The full weight of the law and sanctions is allowed to rest on offenders irrespective of any consideration. This is because when shame, pain and imprisonment are meted out on the affected candidates or centres that aid and abet malpractice in public examinations, others are bound to be reformed. The sanction may take the form of cancellation of the entire result of the School or of particular candidates depending on the nature of malpractices. This weapon, however, has never been implemented without strong resistance and denial of the malpractice by the affected Schools or candidates. Institutional sanctions against offending Schools and Centres could be of the form of blacklisting of such names in national dailies and de-recognition of such Centres or Institutions.

Appointment/Training of Credible people as Supervisors:

 To ensure the appointment of credible, reliable and trustworthy Supervisors, the exercise is collaboratively carried out by the Board and State Ministries of Education. Hence Civil Servants, mostly Teachers and State Ministries of Education Officials form the bedrock of the Board’s Supervisors. Such Teachers are appointed based on the recommendation of their Principals. The training of these officials is done before the commencement of examinations, during which they are not only educated on the modified rules and regulation occasioned by incidence of examination malpractice/irregularities, they are also trained on ways of detecting, combating, and preventing examination irregularities and malpractices.

Commendation:

This is a positive combative strategy. The individuals, Centres or Schools seen as well-behaved and malpractice free would be commended and awarded prizes. However, modalities must put in place to scrutinize the examination activities in all  Centers before such incentives could be offered

Enlightenment Campaign:

Series of Seminars and Conferences have been organized where the consequences of examination malpractice in the individual, School, Centre, family and nation were highlighted through the effective instrument presented by some renowned educationist in our society. Recently, our Zonal and State Offices have embarked on campaign against malpractice

Progressive Distribution of Question Papers:

This implies segmentation of the examination time table such that question papers for each segment shall be distributed within the period under it. Retrieval of the answer scripts for the concluded segment is simultaneously carried out with the distribution of the next segment. This strategy is perceived as one of the ways to minimize incidence of leakages and replacement of candidates’ scripts popularly known among malpractice perpetrators as “slotting”.

The activities of Post Examinations Investigation Committee (PEIC).

Encouraging centres to establish Guidance and Counseling Units to counsel their students on choice of career and study habits.

Improvement in the logistics of administering examinations, adequate publicity of rules and regulations to guide the conduct of the candidates during examinations.

Sound moral teaching and the civil responsibility which should be inculcated into children at home, schools and the society at large.

Improvement on the condition of service for the educational sector to enhance greater dedication Commitment to duties which invariably will cause reduction of strike action by Teachers.

And last but not the least, setting an upper limit the school examination hall can accommodate which makes it difficult if not impossible for a centre to enroll candidates beyond this limit.

When it comes to all disappointment, the Messiah(the military) must take the lead in combating cheating. All is fair in Love and War.

Writer: Saeed Ullah Khan Wazir

The writer is a CSS aspirant,  social democrat and human rights activist. He can be reached at

saeedwazir41@gmail.com 

THE PASHTUN TIMES

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