Malawi national examiner says corruption shouldn’t destroy once admired education system

The country must not allow its education system to crumble due to corruption, says Malawi National Examination Board (Maneb) Executive Director, Roy Hauya.

Hauya says examination malpractice is a form of corruption, a social cancer “eating into the national education system.”

He says Maneb facilitated a national conference for stakeholders in education to examine the challenge of examination malpractices and seek short-term and long-term solutions.

“We have a national challenge which requires a national coordinated response,” says Hauya. “Blame shifting, lamentations or politicization of examinations will not solve the problem.”

Hauya  on the left and Maneb officials
Hauya on the left and Maneb officials

The conference re-defined the roles of various stakeholders before, during and after examinations and stressed the need for coordinated monitoring, communication and on-going education of the public and students regarding the folly of cheating and sabotaging examinations.

“The major resolution of the conference was that examination malpractices is a national cross-cutting challenge which calls for a multi-sector response and collective responsibility, with Maneb taking the lead in planning and technical support,” says Hauya.

Cheating during national school examinations was seldom heard during the one party era of the Malawi Congress Party, but things changed when the country embraced political pluralism.

Reports of malpractices began to emerge after the country became a multiparty state in 1994. The malpractices ranged from leakages of examination papers to cheating during exams.

The malpractices continue today, but on a much smaller scale, thanks to Maneb’s relentless effort over the years to fight the social ill that threatened to weaken the country’s education system.

Hauya says as Maneb gets close to administer 2013 examinations beginning with Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education, the board has had planning and strategic review meetings with education divisions and all districts.

“A public education campaign on radio, print media and community drama is also underway,” he says.

The Maneb chief admits that there was a partial leakage in 2012, but explains that it was concentrated in the central parts of the country.

Hauya says the board appreciates the fact that this time around, the media behaved “maturely”.

“As agreed at the national conference last March, the media is a major partner and its role is not to create sensation, but rather to raise the alarm for Maneb and all stakeholders, including the media itself to respond to any leakage,” he says.

There’ve been fears that because some police officers take MSCE examinations and Maneb keeps examination papers at police stations, police officers take advantage to leak the exams.

He says a good number of serving police officers take examinations every year, adding “this is to be commended.”

However, all police officers or teachers who are taking the examination should declare and shouldn’t take part of its examination administration, nor should they have access to any materials relating to examinations.  This is what the policy says, according to Hauya.

Hauya says the police are a major partner in the administration of examinations in this country and that cases of malpractices have been declining since the board started engaging them in securing examinations and safeguarding examination centers.

“Maneb will continue to work closely with the security sector and together seek better ways of preventing all forms of malpractices. We have had several meetings so far and there is great commitment to improve from year to year.

“Maneb believes that the fact that one or two police officers are affected in malpractices cannot condemn a national security organization of 11,000 well-meaning professionals.”

On punishment for offenders, he says the penalties for people who indulge in examination malpractices are stipulated in the Malawi National Examinations Act (1987).

“[But] the bottom line is that perpetrators are criminals and must be punished according to the law,” stresses Hauya.—Malawi News Agency

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