Last year’s October/November general exam session was somewhat messy. Besides the confusion over the ‘new curriculum’ there were several allegations of papers having leaked and that such papers had found a good transmission medium in WhatsApp. Sad stories…
There was then a proclamation that students had to resit for one of the papers at the time when the results were supposed to come out. The notice was too short and it was not going to be feasible. The High Court had to make a ruling barring the resit. Some students, a great number actually had their results withheld for cheating. There was an outcry and at that time I asked if we had any sincerity in raising such outcries including the one against a certain Dr Grace Mugabe’s doctorate.
My argument was that we were being very hypocritical when a good number of people ‘graduating’ from universities and other places would have cheated their way. Exams leak, lecturers are bribed, assignments are copied, projects and dissertations are outsourced at a very high scale. We need to fix this.
I argued again that the outcry towards ZIMSEC’s leaked exams was probably coming from you and I who have no kids writing exams. I went further to almost bet that some very holy prayer warrior could without a flinch forward a ‘leaked paper’ to a WhatsApp group for their church intercession team and everyone there would say Hallelujah God has answered Brother Fred’s prayers for his son to pass.
Our conscience as a nation has eroded to ridiculous levels. This is why I was not surprised to see a communication from ZIMSEC concerning the May/June exam session. Again there were allegations of leaked papers circulating on WhatsApp. This time ZIMSEC said the supposed leaked papers were not the actual ones but fake ones designed to fleece some desperate parents without integrity who think helping their child cheat is the ultimate act of love.
Fake or not we have a problem
To be honest I think much of this conversation is lost in pointing fingers at ZIMSEC and advising what measures to make exam administration better. Yes this is important but if we have to solve the problem of how to stop parents buying leaked exams then we have a bigger problem than the soundness or lack thereof of our examinations set up.
The bigger exam is failed
Don’t parents realise that even if they help their kids cheat an exam and the kids get straight A’s those kids have failed ultimately and it is their parents who would have failed them? Is that the nation we want? People who want what they haven’t earned? People who are entitled and don’t have boundaries? No wonder our politicians rape us in broad daylight. They are doing exactly what we are teaching our kids to do.
Our view of education has to change
We view education as this necessary evil that has to be endured on one’s way to a successful life. As long as we hold that metaphor in our minds then learning and subsequent exams are mere events that have to be ‘passed’ however way possible. This is why we have individuals who have succeeded at education, career and business but have failed at life.
Cheaters, sorry teachers are not exempt too. They are measured and measure themselves on metrics such as number of A’s students get etc. Kids are then taught to pass exams and not to learn. We must actually be thinking beyond teaching so kids learn but we must be teaching kids to learn to learn. The less conscientious teachers of course leak the papers.
The change starts with you
I know some are reading this and saying I am naive. I am of course, but I don’t think naive is a bad thing if we are all naive together. Let’s just choose to be innocent and good people. Let’s care more about the moral lessons we pass on to our kids above the number of A’s they get. That way the kids themselves won’t be pressured to cheat and we won’t help them to.
Let’s be a people who want to earn what they earn. A people that value how ‘success’ was achieved more than the mere showcasing of it. Let’s be a people who genuinely want our kids to be better people than we are and to live in a better world than we do. When we become such, leaked exam papers on WhatsApp (fake or otherwise) are the not as important and magically the incidence of such will go down: what incentive would there be to leak an exam
Zvimwe hazvidi tech solution izvi (some things don’t need tech) but unfortunately people being as we are, ZIMSEC will have to deploy secure technology and processes in their examination administration.