We are a country that when not voraciously consuming politics, are hung up on examination results. For all the talk around abolishing ranking of schools and students, we still want to know who came up tops, who beat who, and who cheated.
We want to read and watch the stories and features of hard work, dedication and sacrifice from excelling students. Why? Because when exam season is upon us, that is probably the one time as a country we can believe that hard work and not patronage pays.
Which is why it is disheartening to hear that examination cheating is up by 70 per cent.
Corruption is not just institutionalised across all sectors, it has now become a national epidemic that is invading the minds and hearts of the young.
When children, parents and teachers believe that it is expedient to pay for an exam paper in the quest for the highest marks in KCPE or KCSE, we are truly at our lowest. As much as I like to be optimistic, I concede that such news brings me to utter despair
and hopelessness. Because when we lose these young souls to the demon called, ‘cheat, kill, pay your way to the top’, a generation has been blighted with what now appears to be an incurable disease.
We are wont to point fingers at the highly competitive 8-4-4 syllabus but perhaps we need to look at the other four pointing right back at us. At the heart of exam cheating is not just the desire to attain the top marks possible in an exam, but greed that is
fuelled by examination officials who leak papers, ego driven teachers and parents. It is about someone wanting to make money out of the desperation of students. And that person deserves the same vitriol we are meting out to corrupt NYS officials,
politicians, police officers, judges and doctors.
Once the results were out, I called a young girl I know who had scored a B plain, to congratulate her. She was disappointed that she had not attained her target of A. However, she said something that led me to believe that all is not lost, there is a remnant that
can still save this country. “I may not have gotten the marks I wanted, but at least I know that I got the marks I worked for because I did not cheat.” She talked of classmates who had the exam papers beforehand, but her integrity led her to steer clear of the
temptation. When I had visited with her in boarding school, during the run up to the exams, I noticed bags under her eyes, “We only sleep about 5 hours every day,” she had told me. She gave that exam everything she had, and that gave her the confidence to
sleep at night.
So this article today is dedicated to the thousands of students, like her, who worked tirelessly and earned an honest result. We know you are there, and we upload you. You represent what is possible for this nation. You are proof that not ‘everyone is doing
it’. Regardless of what mark you attained, you have passed a more important test. The test of integrity. And that test was, I believe, much harder than KCSE.
This article is dedicated to head-teachers and teachers who refused to engage in the rampant vice of purchasing exam papers. We know you are there and we upload you for caring more about the character of a child than using ill gotten exam results as a
marketing tool for the school.
Finally, this article is for parents who want the best for their child but who are unwilling to pay ‘any price’ to get it. Parents who understand that a child is a complex, wonderful gift and not just an examination grade.
In the end, Kenya will be saved by such men, women and children, if they continue to uphold the values of honesty and fair play. So three cheers for all those who won and those who didn’t, as long as they did so clean, fair and square.