CHEATING: EXAMINATION BODY LIKE EDEXCEL, AQA (UK) OR NSW BoS (AUSTRALIA) CAN IMPROVE STANDARD



2015 Legal Studies Paper  Appeared Online Before The Exam. Source: Facebook

Past and present reports have indicated students bought exam papers prior to sitting examinations. Someone along the chain of conducting national examinations (preparing, printing, storing, transporting/storing and taking exams) deliberately leaked them to sell, a serious breach of trust.


Another area where not exam papers, but exam questions are likely to be leaked is during setting (or compiling) exams. Teachers and lecturers (the exam writers) who are usually swept away to set exam questions - are they trustworthy? 

Apparently, possibilities for tempering with these important documents are many. An article here explains where exam papers are stolen, the hotspots.

You may have realised that pinpointing a hotspot is quite complicated. Many people are involved. Education secretaries and ministers have failed to sort out this mess. No wonder it has been happening (and continues to happen) for many years.

2013 and 2014 were worst years of cheating. Many schools in Highlands were alleged to have cheated. Students in Enga and Simbu were left out of selection to tertiary institutions as a result. I remember Enga governor took that matter to court. School boards from two schools in Simbu alleged to have cheated also took the matter to court.

2014 Maths A Leaked Questions Discussed on Facebook
A clear case of cheating happened last year when a teacher admitted to be given 10 Maths A questions prior to Maths  examination. He later found out that those 10 questions appeared in the actual exam, word for word including the diagrams (Here is the link https://goo.gl/z21q9L).


A recent case was also discussed in PNG teachers' Facebook group. This clearly showed legal studies exam paper (screen shot above) was circulated on the morning of Wednesday 21/10/2015.

It is obvious (AGAIN) that papers are already out there  - in students hands - before they are taking the exam this year. What is Measurement Service Division (MSD) doing about it? What can the acting Education Secretary and minister do about this serious problem? 

These examples are not intended to 'rub mud' on those responsible for examinations in the country, but to highlight their ignorance. Though there were widespread instances of cheating in successive years, nothing was DONE to stop it.

Another area exam cheaters are having an easy ride is entry to major institutions like UPNG and UNITECH. Selectors seem to have no 'filter' for identifying cheats. Leaders at tertiary institutions have to stand at the door and identify who enters their institutions. Education leaders who do not want 'rotten apples' in their establishment must play their part.

2015 exams started off with acting Education Secretary giving stern warning after newspapers reported cheating in Grade 10 Written Expression exam. So, what is going to happened when there are instances of exam papers floating around before exams?

The acting Education Secretary must act his words when he said  “If a grade 10 or 12 student is found to have cheated, all the grade 10 or 12 students in the particular  school that the student belongs to will be penalised,” warned Dr Kombra.

His words have no effect if nothing is done. In retrospect, in 2014 Enga governor and school administrators in Simbu fought tooth to nail to have their students considered for certification and selection. They knew it was unjust on other students who did not cheat. Penalising the whole school is 'just over the top'. Are we likely to see the acting secretary's words vaporise into thin air?

Individuals involved in setting examinations to storage and delivery of exam papers are, seriously, jeopardising the whole process. They cannot be trusted any more. The signs are obvious, aren't they? But, we cannot go on blaming students, teachers, invigilators, principals or other individuals. Blaming ' that someone' in the system will not SOLVE the problem. If the education department wants to halt cheating, it has to start thinking outside the box.

Measurement Service Division (formerly Measurement Service Unit and Measurement Service Board) tasked to make examination epitome shrouded in secrecy has failed on its responsibility. This division lacks the ability to safeguard exam papers. It has failed to deliver successful examinations. It has - time and time again - failed the government it is serving. The buck stops with MSD. It, surely, needs to shape up or ship out. 

Prioritising this section of education division (MSD) is the best thing the government can do going forward - give it a fresh look. How can it be done?  Our leaders in politics and education do not have to look further than counties like Australia and UK.

Establish an examination body (an agency) that is independent from and separate of the education department: yet one that is task to improve standard of examination as well as protecting it from tempering. Enable the examination body to employ and place people in strategic (full-time) positions throughout the country to make it work. 

The examination organisation has to be empowered to  perform in all areas of internal assessments and examinations from elementary to secondary schools and tertiary institutions. The body must also be given the ability to collect internal and external assessment data and make informed reports. Overall, it must be a body that focuses on effective and efficient exertion of assessments and examinations, evaluations and reports.

Edexcel and AQA in the UK, and NSW Board of Studies in Australia  are prime examples of such examination agencies. They are separate examining and awarding body focused on maintaining examination standards from setting questions to conducting, marking, evaluating, reporting and awarding merits.

I do not think money is a matter of debate. The government has allocations for exams. Last year it allocated K1 million just for marking alone. MSB is a statutory division of the education department. There is funding allocation for it to function. So, there is no question about lack of funds. What is needed is a bit of foresight and the right human resource to make it work.

Examinations are culminations of years of work from all stakeholders. Why can't PNG have a body capable of delivering successful examinations? 

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