Exam Cheats Get Stern Warning

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK The Directorate of National Examinations and Assessment in the Ministry of Education has issued a stern warning to those cheating in examinations that they will face grave consequences. The major forms of malpractices involve impersonation, stealing papers, converting, collusion in the examination hall, copying, and mass or organised cheating involving outsiders and sometimes even teachers. This warning comes after two female Namibians were last week arrested in Windhoek for selling alleged International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) question papers. Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Vitalis Ankama, revealed that the Anti-Corruption Commission last week informed the Directorate of National Examinations and Assessment that they had received information that Grade 12 examination papers for Development Studies Papers 2 and 4, Biology 1 and 6, Physical Science 1, Mathematics 1, and Geography 1 were on sale for N$300 apiece. Following prompt investigations by the ministry, the commission and the police, the examination papers were found to be fake and confiscated from the premises of the accused. In collaboration with the Cambridge International Examinations Council, the ministry found that the question papers that were in circulation were not the same as the examination papers for October/November 2006. “The evaluation showed that all the question papers were fake documents compiled from the IGCSE question papers of the previous year,” Ankama stated. There are 31 556 fulltime and part-time Grade 12 learners expected to sit for the end-of-year examinations this year. The ministry could not provide figures with regard to how many papers were sold and to how many learners. However, Director of National Examinations and Assessment in the ministry, Cowley van der Merwe, told New Era that it is unlikely that a large number of the fake question papers were sold. He confirmed that the suspects appeared in court last Friday but could not indicate whether they were released on bail or not. Van der Merwe cautioned learners never to get involved in such deals. “Follow the noble cause and report the case. Do not get involved as the consequences are severe,” he warned. This incident, the ministry assured, was restricted to Windhoek. The ministry further assured candidates and parents that the integrity of this year’s IGCSE examinations is not endangered and neither will the incident influence the date of release of the results. Meanwhile, investigations into the identity of all individuals involved in buying and selling fake papers continue. Van de Merwe said all those who will be caught in activities that are in conflict with the core purpose of education will have their results declared null and void and will in addition be barred from writing any examination for a period of five years. Indulgence in academic dishonesty in secondary and institutions of higher learning is a common occurrence in the country. Just last week, a police constable was arrested after she fraudulently enlisted the services of a close relative to write an examination on her behalf. The arrested officer is a distance learning student enrolled at the Namibian College of Open Learning in Katutura. The officer is reported to have requested her relative enrolled at the Polytechnic of Namibia to write the examination for her. This problem is believed to be widespread, with the Anti-Corruption Commission’s office inundated with a stream of letters about the plans of some learners to corrupt the core principle of examinations. The Director of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Paulus Noa, reiterated that there will be no mercy shown towards the culprits.