The effects of cheating in our Schools

The effects of cheating in our Schools

If you live in Kenya, you obviously followed the recent news about Exam cheating.

That we long became a man-eat-man society is no secret. It was disheartening, to see that the exam cheating fiasco, had within its value chain, a Team of Policemen, who opened sealed envelopes, took photographs of the exams, and re-sealed the envelopes. These policemen then sent the exam papers to a middle man, who promoted the leaks, by granting access to school administrators and willing candidates at a fee. It was a well-oiled machine. Individuals who went to every length, to enrich themselves at immense costs, to a National Examination and even worse, a whole cohort of candidates across the country. But we digress.

We have as a society been overtaken by a, “the end justifies the means” philosophy. This is evident in our parenting and we shall dwell on that later, including what has been perpetuated by societies role models. As a result, we are now breeding a culture among'st our youth, which preaches that “it’s not what you do that's important, as long as you live the dream.” Nothing says this more clearly than our leadership. If the trend is anything to go by, we have recently seen the collapse of Two Banks in Kenya in the recent past and near collapse of a Third a week or so ago, where Bank executives enriched themselves at the cost of their depositors. Unfortunately for the very impressionable minds of our youth, what they see is the person driving the latest, very expensive, luxury 4X4, with a house in one of Nairobi’s posh suburbs no matter how that wealth was acquired. You wonder what this has to do with cheating I am sure. It is about our value systems and general moral compass.

With the advent of technology, cheating has been made easy. Most students now have access to a Cell phone. It is now very easy, to quickly “send answers or even ask for help, via text,” from candidate to candidate. To pretend that this is a new phenomenon would be careless, cheating is as old as exams. That said, 10 years ago, we walked into an exam room, with what we assumed would be examined. Now, students walk into an exam room, with answers to what shall be examined. The difference here is that cheating 10 years ago, was a “hit or miss.” You carried answers to questions that would hopefully be a part of the exam and even if answers to your imagined questions were included, the phrasing of a question sometimes rendered your response immaterial.  Now we have exact copies, in addition to having the ability to cut and paste essays and exam papers from the Internet.

Back to what this does for our youth. We are teaching them that, it is okay to step on other people’s feet, to get to your objective. Remember the leadership and stealing from the masses earlier? Even worse, we are now teaching them that failure, is no longer an integral part of learning. I remember growing up, when parents warned you about a fall, then let you fall, so that you learnt from the experience and you picked yourself up again. Therein was the lesson; the getting up was more important than the fall itself and the knowledge that when faced with similar circumstances, you remembered the past experience.

We are now so busy playing protective “superheroes,” we have lost our place. We are no longer instilling important life lessons and moral values, like honesty, patience, diligence, integrity, or even asking our children to do their best. We have become a society bent on pushing our kids to be No. 1 in class, No. 1 in sports, we are pushing them to excel at everything we want them to be and not giving them the space, to grow and be their own persons. Because we are busy teaching them that they cannot lose, we play the part of putting the proverbial “last nail in the coffin,” by working with them, to water down the value system. Teaching them that they cannot lose, means that they will cheat to get better grades, all their lives. This will just graduate into cheating at bigger exams and go on and on, making them bigger cheats or thieves.

But even worse is, the more we do nothing about it, we condone the vice. Not making it punitive for the ones that get caught or just “letting it slide,” we pass the message along to the youth, that this is okay to cheat and steal.

In Five Year’s we shall have a society low in self-esteem, from the current crop of KCSE leavers, who graduate with little knowledge but with “great grades,” through no effort of their own. Well, except for the effort of paying for exam leaks and cheating. They will quickly believe that education has no value. Didn’t they cheat, get away with it, and end up with great grades after all? This is already evident, in the quality of graduates being churned from institutions of higher learning. A very large majority of these graduates, cannot construct a sentence, lacking in grammatical errors, short messaging text language, and or the occasional phrase in “bastardized” English or “slang and sheng.” Once out of campus, they will get employed, look for an opportunity that lets them steal from the Employer and Viola, the same old trend. Good Luxury 4X4 with a house in the posh suburbs, what more can a “man need.” It's what our leaders have been doing for years.

Unless this is arrested now, our Primary school kids will be the beneficiaries of the rot in the system. They are already learning that you can cheat and it is ok. It is up to us as parents to reach out to our children and preach the value of ethical behavior, the effects of cheating in the long term and most of all, remember the more pressure we exert on our children, the easier we make it for them to want to succeed by any means necessary to please us.   

Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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