We are approaching the examinations season once again and, as usual, the issue of exam cheating and leakages is with us.
First we should separate the two issues: Cheating is the use of unorthodox means to gain an advantage in tackling an exam and is solely the responsibility of the person being examined.
Leakage, on the other hand, is the unauthorised release of the real exam before the official time, and is solely the responsibility of the examining body.
This year we are still being treated to the same circus of warnings, threats and promises by the authorities, but the sad fact is that there will definitely be cheating and leakages. Why? Because we are not dealing with the real problem.
So what exactly is the problem? To the non-discerning eye, exams are just about competition and or doing your best, but that is not entirely true.
In my view, cheating and leakages are here with us due to the premium that has been placed on exam results.
The government is arguably the biggest employer in the country. But if you closely look at the various schemes of service in the public service, which have also sadly been borrowed by the counties, they have clauses that insist on specific grades on specific subjects at KCSE, apart from one having a Diploma or a Bachelor’s degree.
It simply means that if you had some challenge at the time you were sitting your KCSE exam, however much you rise academically, you cannot be employed by the government.
The rules have victimised those deemed “poor” performers at KCSE.
For some time, universities had been setting up programmes that can help those with “poor” KCSE results to advance according to their ability to the highest education level, but the government has re-introduced a roadblock for this group of people.
The national exams have been assumed to be some “standard” against which all the candidates in the country are tested.
But in real sense, it does not make sense at all. How do you subject poor rural children to the same “standard” as those who live in cities with water, security and electricity?
Secondly, there is the issue of teachers; some schools are overstaffed while others barely have any. Where is the fairness?
The question should be why the government is putting such a high premium on the KCSE results on one hand, yet on the other hand it doesn’t want candidates to achieve the set standard.
Just as leakages and cheating is bad, it’s equally unfair for the same government to set rules and regulations that discriminate against some of its citizens.
CORNELIUS OLIKO, Mombasa.