Editor's Comment

We need to nip leakages in the bud

LAST week Tuesday, the country woke up to a rude shock of examination malpractice after a Grade 9 Mathematics paper 2 leaked and was published on social media a day before it was supposed to be written.
This prompted the Ministry of General Education to suspend the Grade 7, 9 and 12 examinations to pave way for investigations.
The Minister of Education, David Mabumba ordered for a probe to ascertain the extent of the alleged malpractice before allowing affected candidates to sit for their examinations.
Education officers were therefore dispatched to various examination centres across the country to do spot checks on the state of the examination papers delivered to those areas.
As anyone’s guess would be; the expose of leaked examinations last Tuesday was just a tip of an iceberg.
The probe revealed that 77 centres out of the 3000 had tampered with the examination papers.
It was also discovered that apart from Mathematics paper 2, five other Grade 9 examination papers were tempered with.
“The highest numbers are in Central, Southern, Western and Copperbelt provinces,” Mr Mabumba said.
While one may be quick to trivialise the number of centres involved in examination leakages as a mere 2.3 percent further investigations will probably reveal that the reach and impact is beyond what meets the eye.
While the probe concentrated more on the storage of the examination materials the reality is that examinations can leak at preliminary stages when they are being set and printed.
We cannot rule out the possibility of deviant elements in the process of examination setting who may not go for the printed copies because of their access to the electronic version.
In whatever aggregates and at whatever point these leakages are accessed in the education system, the daunting truth is that the reach is certainly much higher than one can imagine.
This is because leakages maybe sold and accessed by a wider network. The individual who accesses the leakages first may sell to one person who also sells to another or many others and the network grows wider and wider.
The advent of technology has compounded the challenge by allowing examinations leakages to move faster and wider.
If not nipped in the bud, leakages have potential to erode our education system and consequently undermine our development processes.
This is for the simple reason that we will have undeserving people sailing through the education system and getting jobs for which they are clueless.
This is catastrophic for a country like ours which still has long way to go in its development journey.
Research has indicated that qualified and skilled human resource is the major driver of development in the 21st century.
This is why as a country we need deal with examination malpractices in a more resolute manner because the vice deprives the country of the much needed quality human capital.
While it is heartening that the suspended examinations have resumed today, there is certainly need to ensure that loopholes are sealed to avoid a recurrence of leaked examinations now and in future.
Those charged with the responsibility to secure examination materials must do so vigilantly knowing that it is the future of the country at stake.
It is commendable that so far arrests have been made in connection to the leaked examinations.
Law enforcers should therefore ensure that anyone found wanting faces the full wrath of the law.
There is also need to consider stiffening the law to send a strong message and deter would be offenders.
Above all the growing trend of cheating in examinations is a strong indicator of the corrosion of morals in our society.
The Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs has a daunting task to promote and entrench integrity among citizens.
If we are to resolutely deal with examination malpractice, we need to get to the root of the problem otherwise we will continue moving in circles by only treating symptoms.

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