Columnists

Exam leakages eroding professionalism

CATHERINE Mumba.

Analysis: CATHERINE MUMBA
EXAMINATION malpractices and the use of leakages seem to be a growing trend among both general learners and those pursuing tertiary education.

Just recently, the General Nursing Council (GNC) cancelled final examinations affecting over 1,700 student nurses countrywide due to rampant leakages.
GNC president Lonia Mwape said this was done to protect the public from unscrupulous medical practitioners who do not have proper qualifications to treat patients.
She said the examinations were cancelled after investigations revealed malpractices, prompting the council to nullify them and call for fresh ones.
“It is our mandate to produce quality nurses and it is our duty to protect the public from unscrupulous medical practitioners. We want to ensure that the person who graduates is competent to treat patients and not put anyone’s life in danger” Dr Mwape said.
She stressed that allowing student nurses to graduate despite knowing that the examinations were leaked would pose a danger to the public.
This is indeed a commendable move which other bodies in charge of education should emulate.
There is nothing as dangerous as releasing to society a crop of unqualified graduates who also lack integrity.
These are the same individuals who find themselves with papers but fail to perform because they did not study in the first place.
We need more of such strict bodies as GNC which do not entertain dishonesty.
It is high time our education institutions moved their concentration away from just recording high pass rates and graduating many students to ensuring that only those who have proved to be professional are released to society.
During my final examinations at Evelyn Hone College in 2015, I remember an embarrassing occurrence where a teaching student was caught with an A4 paper of answers written in pencil.
I was in my third year pursuing a Diploma in Journalism and Public Relations and that was the first time management combined us with students who were doing different programmes to prevent copying.
The student used pencil and a very small font size because she wanted to be erasing the answers after writing them on the original examination answer sheet to ensure that no-one became suspicious.
She was, however, unlucky that day because she didn’t realise that one of the invigilators had his eyes fixed on every student to ensure that nobody was cheating.
It was shocking for her to realise that he had actually been watching her and was just waiting for the right moment to expose her in front of everyone.
When the invigilator pulled out the paper which had answers, I was astonished and couldn’t believe that someone could take such a risk as to enter an examination room with answers written on a relatively large piece of paper.
Not that I was not aware of such happenings, but I have always known ladies to be more afraid of taking such risks compared to men.
She was such an innocent-looking lady who messed up at the last minute as she was disqualified and barred from writing any other subject.
The rule was that she could only be allowed to sit for examinations after three years.
And as she walked out of the examination room in shame, the invigilator expressed his disappointment, especially that she was an aspiring teacher and was not expected to engage herself in such demeaning activities.
“You have let me down, especially that you desire to be a teacher, yet you do not even understand what integrity means. How will you be an inspiration to the pupils who will be placed under your charge if you do not understand the value of honesty and reliability?” he castigated her.
She pleaded with him to pardon her on grounds that her family was not going to spare her or send her back to school, but it was too late and nothing could be done about it.
Like the invigilator said, integrity should indeed be a norm that students must learn while still studying as it determines whether or not they will add value to the nation.
Why should the country have graduates who simply obtain papers yet lack skill and professionalism?
This policy should be adopted in both private and public entities to ensure that graduates produced in all fields are indeed qualified even in conduct and not just on paper.
Malpractices should be curtailed from primary and secondary school levels so that the need for people to work hard to get good results is learnt at a tender age.
I have heard of situations where a student with very good points at Grade 12 completely fails to perform in university, which brings us back to the need for hard work and honesty to be a norm from lower grades so that studying and acquiring skills genuinely does not become a challenge at higher levels.
After all there wouldn’t be a need to cheat in an exam when one has prepared themselves adequately.
Moreover, people should always remember that no matter how much deceit one uses to get an academic qualification, they still need professionalism to keep a job or reach greater heights.
The author is correspondent for Zambia Daily Mail.

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