By Wachira Kigotho
In the last year's Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education, about 3,000 students had their results cancelled or withheld for cheating.
Nonetheless, there are concerns that examination dishonesty is not just perpetrated by students but the integrity of public examinations has been compromised by many actors, including education officials. While releasing KCSE results, Education Minister Sam Ongeri said education officials might be involved in the unending incidents of examination fraud.
Unless the academic fraud is severely punished, it is going to graduate from merely a nagging educational issue to national crisis like in Nigeria where universities have petitioned the Government to be allowed to set their own admission tests instead of relying on the West African Senior School Certificate Examination, which is characterised by massive malpractices.
The crux of the matter is that success in academic life has great value and examinations are the means of selecting candidates for higher education and employment. Success in KCSE optimally opens doors for admission to the best degree programmes in public universities.
Academic fraud appears to be on the increase worldwide according to United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
"Education has opened new avenues of advancement to growing number of citizens but many complex forms of misconduct have developed, amounting to a wide range of academic fraud," says Muriel Poisson, a programme specialist at Unesco.
But whereas academic fraud can take many forms examination dishonesty can occur at any stage of the examinations. Basically, students or their agents arrive at the venue prepared to use various methods. The most common is known as Â¡Â®giraffingÂ¡Â¯ where a student sticks out one the neck to see another studentÂ¡Â¯s answer sheet and it is often coordinated by examiners and teachers. It is related to Â¡Â®lateral connectionÂ¡Â¯ implemented through a sitting arrangement, whereby the bright candidate is flanked on both sides by weaker candidates. The bights ones are then asked by teachers to let others peep on his work.
Alice Arinlade Jekayinfa, a professor of Social Education Studies at the University of Ilorin in Nigeria, says a common cheating method in Sub-Saharan Africa is known as Â¡Â®nothing-nothing.Â¡Â¯ "This involves the use of empty biro pen to trace information on a blank white piece of paper. Seeing this on the table, one would think there is nothing on the paper, but closer observation reveals well loaded with facts about the examination," says Jekayinfa.