THOUGH statistics are not easy to come by, it seems the ranks of quite an alarming number of professions are being contaminated by academic cheats or rather uncouth characters bogusly purporting to possess this or that academic qualification. Some of this riff-raff can only be separated from the real thing by way of a thorough professional audit and even some detective work in the various institutions. And it is true some of these people would easily slip through the net and be difficult, if not impossible, to differentiate from the bona fides because they cunningly cheated their way through the examination room in the first place, and thus are difficult to detect. Year in and year out, cases of these exam cheats are being exposed and this recurrent social evil is not only endemic to Namibia but equally a perennial headache in other developing countries and even in the so-called First World where these academic frauds have leapt several steps ahead of their developing peers by going hi-tech. Recently, an alert team of the Anti-Corruption Commission agents caught red-handed a rank-and-file member of the Special Field Force (SFF) who enlisted the services of a relative to write a distance-learning examination paper on her behalf perhaps to enhance her prospects for promotion and possibly a better pay, whatever the motivation. Since the case involves a supposedly law-enforcement official, it was referred to the specialized police unit, Complaints and Discipline, that investigates roguish members. A senior employee at the public broadcaster recently tendered his resignation in shame in the wake of a probe by ACC agents investigating allegations his CV is tainted with a dubious qualification. It is being assumed the crest-fallen ex-official deviously landed a managerial position with a doctored CV by using another person’s qualifications. True to the saying, what goes around comes around, individuals with an aptitude for cheating or ones bragging to have this or that qualification when in fact they do not, as in the case of clouds presaging a storm, are normally caught and exposed, full stop. A few years ago, up to 174 students from Angola had to be de-registered from the various faculties at the University of Namibia when Unam uncovered a racket in which the culprits used bogus grade twelve certificates to get admission to the institution. This scam was compounded by the fact that unlike in Namibia where there is a single examining board, each of the secondary schools from the various provinces in Angola could issue a grade twelve certificate , which made authenticating documents utterly difficult with some being printed on ordinary A4 paper. There was a case in which a secondary school principal was jailed for selling end-of-year exam papers to a group of dullards. It also cost him his job and the students’ results had to be nullified and their futures, save for the criminal world, irreparably ruined. In the so-called First World countries, mobile phones by way of the text messaging facility are a favourite by exam cheats though there are also other unauthorized gadgets such as calculators that are normally smuggled into exam rooms to give these cheats an upper hand. Other students are known to write a multiplicity of math formulas on their desks that they somehow hide from invigilators. It has also been discovered that others in their desperation may write the answers on their arms that they may cover with a long-sleeved shirt or blouse, which they may unroll when the invigilator is on the other side of the examination hall or if he/she is not looking. Exam cheats who claim to possess a qualification when in actual case they are blatant liars are in most instances incompetent when it comes to service delivery or executing a professionally challenging task for which they fraudulently claim to be well qualified, and in the process the public at large suffers. Take for instance this anecdotal barroom scene, when one regular looked not his usual cheerful self to which another inquisitive regular asked what the matter was. The other tippler sadly said he had just lost a beloved uncle because he had been reliably informed the sudden death occurred because a medical doctor had surgically removed a “wrong” organ in what was supposed to be a very simple operation. The high number of road accidents is also being attributed to unqualified “drivers” who buy driving licenses from corrupt officials in the employ of the examining authority. It is members of the public who suffer in the long run and the cases in which the public/consumers are being shortchanged are just too lengthy to list for lack of space. The problem of exam cheats should be eradicated. This nation cannot achieve the goals of Vision 2030 with this baggage.
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