By Micheal Atwakiire
Sheema: After the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) released timetables for Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE), Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) Examinations and Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) Examinations, a specialist in education and at the same time Kabale University lecturer Ass. Prof. Dr. Mesearch Katusiime Rwebiita, has said that cheating exams is typical corruption.
In an exclusive interview with him, Katusiime said that “In Uganda Cheating exams has become a deadly form of corruption because it is said that some schools have invested heavily in cheating to appear more superior to their counterparts. When corruption combines with increasing competition in educational institutions academic integrity is sacrificed.”
He added that “What shocks me is to see that even parents are actively involved in examination malpractice. They give money to their kids to buy leaked papers and
He noted that if cheating examinations remains at this pace, the culture of learning will be eroded from pupils or students’ minds.
“Pupils in primary schools witness their teachers and parents encouraging them to cheat. Then can a country expect to create a generation of honest, hardworking Ugandans when the young see adults treat cheating and other corrupt practices as normal? If things don’t change, the culture and acceptance of cheating and corruption in the minds of future generations will be cemented and this will be detrimental. The culture of cheating will erode the importance of learning in the minds of students and parents. Why should students and teachers pay attention in class when they are assured of exam leakage? “Dr. Katusiime said .
Katusiime said this attitude has followed students into further/higher education, especially in universities whereby most students hire mercenaries to sit for them exams.
“I have worked at a university level for more than 16 years and I have realized that some students with very good grades at lower levels of education probably cheated. If not, why would they want to be involved in exam cheating? At university, students try hard to find out the questions before the exam from lecturers or the examinations office. Those who fail try to copy from other students during the exam. Others copy from material brought into the exam room. Other students write texts on their hands, arms, thighs etc., and/or using technology (e.g. using mobile phones to obtain answers from the internet or even by sending someone else to sit the exam for them.”
He said that all these exam malpractices have made most employers suffer by spending millions of money to train their employees. “Nowadays some employers will tell you that most transcripts presented misrepresent the students’ competencies and strengths. Cheating at all levels has meant that students entering the workforce are essentially incompetent as they had not truly learnt the full body of knowledge expected of them. That is why many employers spend millions of money on training job entrants which could have been saved had honesty been the norm in schools and higher institutions of learning. In addition, those who cheat their way through school bring with them a culture of cheating everywhere. They view corruption as a legitimate tool to use in professional life. For example, those who cheated most likely are the same people who will cheat their way into becoming successful politicians and end up in parliament or other top level positions in the country. It should not surprise us that corruption has been institutionalized. The ‘mafia’ threat in government that manipulates systems for selfish interests is real and was created by a corrupt education system. Every day that passes, newspapers and other media outlets report of ‘fake’ doctors, ‘fake’ teachers, ‘fake’ parliamentarians, ‘fake’ professors, ” Katusiime said.
He warned UNEB and ministry of Education and Sports that if they can’t curb cheating, they should declare examination as a failed policy, “If UNEB and generally the Ministry of Education are not to lose further legitimacy, it must impose very strict measures to curb cheating and corruption generally in the examination system. If that is impossible, then, the Ministry of Education can declare the school national exam as a failed policy that schools, and society, would be better off without. We must treat exam malpractices especially cheating as a serious form of corruption because of the long term negative impact it has on society.” He emphasized.