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How teachers were used, abused and made fools of themselves

By Catherine Amayi | January 13th 2016

“They told us to check out for irregularities in this year’s exams,” my aunt, a Deputy Center Coordinator for High School Exams said this at a recent family gathering. “How Ironical!” She stated as she served us tea, leading to heavy laughter’s flying around the room. “Why?” I asked, bewildered, frantically searching with a toothpick for the irony or the ‘joke’ because clearly there was one. There had to be if everyone was laughing like that.

A large part of me also wondered why my aunt or anyone else would bother to prematurely end a conversation without caring to know whether or not I had understood it. This was evidenced by the way she immediately moved on to the subject of her new plants in the garden. I dearly hoped it was not too late to revisit the exam irregularities issue. “Isn’t it obvious?” she declared, placing the thermos on the brown wooden table as she tightened the lid. “On one hand, they brand us worthless. They say no to our demands unblinkingly.

They disrespect the courts. But then turn on the other and ask us to supervise and mark the very exams and check if they are regular. Makes you wonder how exactly, how that’s supposed to play out.” She said, explaining that the cheating in the year 2015 was worse than any time in the history of her marking career that has been spanning for 29 years.

 “They shouldn’t have asked us to check out for irregularities. They should have asked us to check out for the ‘regularities’ instead, the former was rampant. Only a handful of students didn’t steal exams, a reverse of the norm. Those are the ones we should have reported back, right?” Everyone laughed again, except me. “What do you mean? Exactly?” “All I’m saying is this Kate, it would have been a lot easier for us to tell who hadn’t cheated in the exams this year since they were the minority. They were approaching the problem from the reverse.” All of us had since placed our cups down not to miss a point of this juicy story, or ‘not so juicy’ considering the far reaching consequences.

She further explained that teachers in most schools deliberately leaked exams to students by either directly feeding them with answers at night or letting by them look up for answers in their note books. “It also goes without saying that we, at the marking centers, deliberately chose not to report the irregularities. We teachers are disillusioned after being used, abused, and made fools by the same people who expect us to perform.” She concluded, sadly. Now I understood it all. No one laughed anymore.

It was sad and disappointing. In case you’ve just emerged from under a rock, ‘they’ is the government of Kenya, and ‘we’ are the Kenyan teachers. So yes, I was in shock over the level of apathy among our teachers who are supposed to be the motivators and the moral authority for our kids or the society at large. I felt/ feel sorry for the kids who are paying the ultimate price. I don’t want to imagine the future crop, I don’t. I don’t want to imagine what kind of ‘future’ that awaits kids who have known no honesty right from the classroom. I can’t begin to imagine how we, as a culture or a nation will ever solve the menace of stealing and corruption, our very own teenagers haven’t even experienced even a tinge of the innocence that comes with honesty in the exam room.

Good God! You know what this means? It means that say in the next one or two years, mediocre people (and I say this with the all due respect to all professions) will be studying human anatomy in our universities. After that, they’ll proceed ?through cheating? to the subsequent classes and several years later, they will be doing open heart surgeries on you and me. Or constructing our buildings. Or being captains of industry. Or whatever! And you still wonder why we have to be fundraising every fortnight for treatment in India or why buildings are collapsing every now and then. It is a sad state of affairs people, and it’s only bound to get worse. This is what it translates to besides the obvious loss of lives. It means that our taxes with be used to pay each and every one of those individuals doing their job badly. We will spend billions working on cleaning up the mess they’ll be leaving behind in the wake of their destruction. All this will just be a tip of the iceberg because nothing will come close to the high-tech stealing that will be in place owing to years and years of practice! And yet you thought that the teachers’ pay was a standalone problem! You better think again.


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