Continuous Examinations Leakage in Malawi: Who is to Blame?

Examination leakage has been a song of every year whenever National Examinations are taking place especially Malawi School Certificate of Examination (MSCE). This has not been good news to both the government and the Private sector even outside Malawi.  Since 2003 or even before, the exam papers are found in possession by the candidate before the examination day. One wonders, whether that still remains an examination or not. Examinations are meant to test candidate’s knowledge and mastery of a particular subject as to how much s/he remembers and be able to apply answers accordingly. If one has examination papers before an examination day, s/he is no longer being examined because s/he only mugs up for the sake of passing the examination, and after that, everything vanishes. If one can’t remember anything after just few hours of examination, of what use will that person be in academia. Such people are always feckless. The fatal part of this examination leakage saga is that teachers are involved. What is the problem? Who is to blame?

Main Stakeholders in an Examination Leakage

In my analysis, I see three main players in an examination leakage of which a candidate is not one of them. To me a candidate is just a consumer who is the final beneficially of a leaked exam but plays a little role or even none in leaking it because it leaks to her/him.  Examination centres where exams are being taken are like the retail shops of which the invigilators and teachers are the in charge. The police stations where exams are being kept before being taken to different centres are like wholesales because they are kept in bulks. Malawi National Examinations Board is the manufacturer of the examination where exams are being set. Now here is my analysis. Before the examinations papers reach a candidate they have to pass through this process, thus MANEB, police, examination centres and lastly the candidate seats for it. If this process is breached, that is when we say the examinations have leaked, meaning the candidate has gotten hold of a paper before the day for its writing. My analysis is that for exams to be leaked, it should be either, some MANEB officials, some police officers and invigilators and teachers in terms of practical exams responsible and not a candidate. Just like when prices of goods go up on market, the consumer is the most affected because he sells to no one but uses the goods, so too the candidate in an examination leakage. S/he is easily caught and many have been arrested on this account but the people who have benefited from these candidates financially are somehow safe.

What Causes Examination Leakage?

English: Examination

English: Examination

The question to be answered is what causes examinations leakage and why? Somehow examinations leakage is perpetuated by poverty due to poor salaries of the examination stakeholders, lack of morals and laziness. Some MANEB officials or some police officers or some invigilators and teachers may leak examination because of financial benefit knowing that they will get some extra tambalas from the candidate who would wish to have the paper before seating for it. This is mostly induced by poor salaries. It may also be stimulated by moral decadence to some teachers and police officers who sleep with some female candidates by promising to leak exam to them. I am assuming this because; the lager number of candidates in possession of leaked examinations is girls as compared to boys. This is because they either give money or their bodies to get the leaked papers while a boy has one thing to offer which is money. If he doesn’t have it he has no other way to have the papers. It may also be as a result of laziness on the part of the candidate who may approach an invigilator, a teacher or even a police officer for examination papers with the promise of giving them money or even their bodies in case of some immoral girls for them to pass. This is because they have weighed themselves and anticipate failure. In terms of practical examinations, the teacher may leak examination because after looking at the questions, s/he realises that, s/he has bodged a lot in what he has been teaching. The papers prove to the contrary to the teacher’s preparatory exercise towards an examination. He wants to prove that, he is a good teacher by making sure that all candidates pass by leaking the paper. Sometimes the teacher can leak the exams because the school doesn’t have enough science apparatus for experiments during class works, giving a teacher no opportunity to test some problems before examination day. So the only choice for such a teacher to make sure that his students pass is to leak an exam. In this case, the government and the owners of some private schools share the blame.

Effects of Examinations Leakages

Examination leakages have a very disastrous impact to the candidate, the teacher/invigilator, the police, examination board, the government and the nation as a whole. Once candidates are assured that whichever year they will seat for their exams, they will get exam papers on the market place, they do not work hard as a result the nation produces incompetent graduates. In some instances they are disqualified or arrested when they are caught which drugs them backwards. Examination leakage is a very sad story to students who did not have a chance of this evil act because they do have sleepless nights to make sure that they pass while their friends are just sleeping on examination papers. As a result, hard working students are taken as dull and in most cases miss a chance to tertiary studies. The cheating students are the very ones who are troubling the government in the university demanding allowances hike because after all, they are not interested in studies. The same students fail to perform in the university education but just make unnecessary noise and engage in immorality. The school which is known for leaking exams get discredited and sometimes innocent students get disqualified along side the culprits. When some teachers, invigilators, police officers and MANEB officials are arrested, their families suffer because many of them are bread winners. When exams leak while in the hands of the police people loose trust in it because it has failed to protect property. Some police officers get arrested also as a result of such act. Examination leakage by MANEB official is even worse, because it tarnishes the government and the nation’s image. People think that the government is not doing enough when the government has entrusted MANEB on examination. Malawi has been placed on position 28 on literacy rate in Africa, which is very poor. Examination leakage may be the contributing factor. Examination leakage devalues the quality of education and authenticity of the certificate both within and outside the country. Some companies do not employ people who wrote their exams during the year exams leaked which affects innocent job seekers. Examination leakage also results to having incompetent graduates as a result retarding development because the graduates are not idealistic but consumers only. In case of examination cancellation, the government looses a lot of money through the repeat of examinations process. Stationary has to be purchased again; the invigilators and police officers who may have been part of the leakage saga get rehired. It is also tiring on the part of a student who has been faithfully studying and hoping to rest to go through the same process again. In many instances, the parents/guardians have to bear extra costs. These and others are negative effects of examination leakage.

What can be done then?

My suggestions on what can be done are very brief. First and for most, the government should pay examination stakeholders such as teachers, police officers and examination board officials well so that they can work hard and be content in order to maintain confidentiality of examinations. Let the government and private schools owners buy enough materials for their schools so that they become competent. In case of examination leakage, let the probe be traced back to the manufacturer, the MANEB itself so that proper action can be taken to stop the act. Let the government put up the syllabus that will allow students take the subjects of their preference which they think will help what they want to become other than overloading them with subjects which may be irrelevant to their future preference. Let’s also intensify moral education in our schools and encourage hard working spirit in our students. Let us avoid examinations leakage at all cost, Let us develop Malawi.

May God Bless Malawi!


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