The Milton Margai College of Education and Technology (MMCET) polytechnic on Tuesday 19th April 2016 organized a general staff meeting and workshop for lecturers and administrative staff “to critically examine themselves to end examination malpractices.”
Held at the Great Hall of the Goderich campus, topics discussed included the link between the Examinations Office and the recently-established Examinations Task Force Committee headed by Mrs. Elizabeth Taylor-Morgan, the Strengths and Weaknesses of the First Term Examinations, Drawing and Types of Questions, Allocation of Marks, Marking Scheme, Harmonization of Examination Papers Per Program and Per Level, Grading System and Course Code.
In his keynote address and PowerPoint presentation, the Principal of MMCET, Dr. Saidu Kanu stated that the day is very important for the college as examination malpractices have become alarming not only in Sierra Leone but worldwide which he maintained he cannot shy away from, that the credibility of the college is at stake and that some lecturers confuse modules with programs and courses.
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He went on to disclose that some of the examination malpractices are leakages of examination questions, impersonation by hiring someone to take examinations on behalf of the right students, sometime their fellow students, smuggling of foreign materials into examination halls, external assistance, spying, prearrangement with invigilators, intimidation, extortion of students by lecturers, cultism, inducement of lecturers and examiners as well as fake presentation of credentials.
Other malpractices are changing of grades, uncompleted syllabuses, not conducting examinations on time, that students have nowhere to seek redress for which the examinations now go through checks and balances that have helped to improve the process for which students now study hard with improved performance.
According to Dr. Kanu, who was visibly angry, the clarion call now is quality education which he underlined is dwindling reiterating that examination malpractices are a threat to education if the administration succumbs as it would mortgage the integrity of the country since some people are determined to derail quality education.
The principal who furthered that examination is a value chain, cautioned that it is no more business as usual, that lecturers must take their responsibilities seriously and revealed that a Resource Center and a printing press would soon be established to help lecturers produce their pamphlets and that there is an harmonized code of conduct for lecturers.
Clad in a grey suit and white shirt, Dr. Kanu went on to state that Sierra Leone was known for quality education and noted that no country can develop with a weak human resource base, that his administration is sincerely determined to improve the standard of education and appealed to his colleagues to be genuine in proffering salient recommendations.
He went on to intimate that some students who gave money to lecturers have been given warning letters and that next time the full force of the law would fall on them.
The Registrar of the college, Mr. David Kai Rogers informed that the Anti-Corruption Commission on 18th April 2016 visited the college during which it was disclosed that after the police, educational institutions, teachers and lecturers are the most corrupt and appealed to participants to remove shame from the college, revealing that on 2nd February this year, the Examinations Task Force Committee was established.
In her welcome statement, the head of the Examinations Task Force Committee, Mrs. Elizabeth Taylor-Morgan, asserted that the workshop was long overdue, stating that plans must be actualized to create impact and underscored the continued support of participants that is key to curb examination malpractices.
Highlighting some of the challenges of the Task Force, Mrs. Elizabeth Taylor-Morgan mentioned late submission of questions; that sometimes they worked till midnight and urged colleagues to collaborate in the interest of students, the college and the country, guaranteeing that examination questions would now be ready on time and that the first term examinations were successful.
She also called for constructive criticisms from participants and not praise-singing underscoring that the Task Force is a novelty from a communiqué signed by the principals of all polytechnics and teacher training colleges in the country at a meeting in Kenema.
According to Mrs. Taylor-Morgan, establishment of the Task Force generated a lot of discussions among lecturers with some supporting the idea, others against while some indecisive.
Cataloging the objectives of the workshop, the Vice Principal, Dr. Mohamed T. Kamarasaid the meeting was to inform participants why the Examinations Task Force Committee was formed, to assess the first term examinations, proffer recommendations, how to construct questions, that marks are not properly awarded, that staff are now being categorized for which they must present their credentials by Thursday 21st April this year and assured all that their comments would be taken in good faith as the exercise is not a witch-hunt.