Lack Of Exam Integrity Dents Students’ Future Careers 

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Lack Of Exam Integrity Dents Students’ Future Careers 
KCSE Candidates Sitting For Their Exams Photo Credits/Courtesy

BY VICTOR OCHIENG’

Based on what went round after the release of KCSE 2021, it was like to some extent: the integrity of exams was compromised in some centres. Arguably, the monster of exam cheating that was slain by Dr. Fred Matiang’i and his dream team, is back with all its ferocious fangs and callous claws. Results of some schools being withheld was a credible evidence to this proposition. The whole thing casts aspersion on this exercise steered by the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC). No wonder, some people lost faith in the 8-4-4 System, and are impressively poised to welcome the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) with all arms. 

By and large, schools that cheat and get stellar results they do not deserve, put other schools in a difficult situation. Being a game of mean scores, when results are out, we are swift to celebrate those who get impressive mean scores. But we hardly question the means they use to prop up themselves to the epic peak. Principals who are prone to this troglodyte culture of cheating are lionised for no good reason. While principled Principals who try their best to post genuine results, sometimes are seen not to be working when their peers who are cheats are far much ahead of them. It should never be lost on us, that when results are massaged hence some students attain peak performance under questionable circumstances, we become so unfair to students who work hard to get authentic results. This brings out the disparities that exists in the society, which in Animal Farm by George Orwell we are told: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” 

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Somehow, it may not be easy to establish which schools cheat in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE). Albeit, those who cheat know it so well. In case their conscience is alive, guilt and regret gnaws their conscience when they cut intricate corners. It is a sad state of affairs, that there are school arrowheads that choose to throw integrity to the winds hence condone cheating in exams. Also, in some schools, wayward teachers are the ones who choose to become blatantly dubious by choosing to cheat. The wonder of wonders, there are schools with impudent students who attempt to sneak phones into schools in order to get leakages from some farcical sources. 

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Just to be blunt about it. In case secondary schools focus on Best Academic Practices, they will see no need to focus on cheating. There is no need to rely on leakage when schools have stupendous syllabus coverage strategies put in place. It is pointless to compromise the integrity of KCSE in examination centres if in case plenty of practice and preparation were given their pride of place. 

Again, allow me to steer clear here: When students cheat in exams, they put their future careers in precarious positions. Somewhat, a student can cheat, and score a good grade like A (plain), and be called to study an alpha course like Medicine. In such a scenario, the glaring question that stares us like Medusa’s face is: Does this ilk of student wield the wherewithal to pursue such a profession? 

In actual sense, it should never be lost on us: that aptitude as a natural inclination towards a particular profession; has a close connection with academic performance. No wonder, every year after KCSE, the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) comes up with the university and college cut-off points. In the final analysis, category of grades – first, middle, low and lowest grades – play a pivotal role in matters varsity and college placements. 

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Therefore, it is advisable to let students garner grades they deserve. Based on how they have prepared for KCSE, let them get grades which are in tandem with their attitudes, aptitudes and abilities. For in case we encourage them to cheat on their way to the top, they will drop out of tertiary institutions due to dearth of mental strength. This is not healthy for mental health of students. Sometimes, it takes a toll on them. In some situations, things go south as we see them sink into depression, or even commit suicide in a mysterious manner. 

Finally, when the head honchos in schools encourage cheating in exams, they raise children who lack useful virtues and values like integrity, honesty and trustworthiness – which are quite key in the world of work. People who lack integrity also suffer from scarcity and paucity of soft skills like dependability and reliability – which are very important when it comes to job placement and employment that brings enjoyment. Lack of exam integrity plant weeds of corruption in the hearts and minds of learners. When schools nurture the culture of cheating, they train young people to be prone to cutting corners. Yet, in actual sense, short cuts are often wrong cuts.   

The writer rolls out talks and training services in schools. [email protected]

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