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Cheating in Examinations; My Advice to 2017 Candidates from The Region

By Mohamed Abdinoor

The author addressing students of Mandera Secondary School in July 2017.

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, wrote this letter to his son’s teacher when his son joined school.

“My son starts school today. It is all going to be strange and new to him for a while and I wish you would treat him gently.
It is an adventure that might take him across continents. All adventures that probably include wars, tragedy and sorrow. To live this life will require faith, love and courage. So, dear Teacher, will you please take him by his hand and teach him things he will have to know,
teaching him – but gently, if you can, teach him that for every enemy, there is a friend.
He will have to know that all men are not just, that all men are not true. But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero; that for every crooked politician, there is a dedicated leader.
Teach him if you can that 10 cents earned is of far more value than a dollar found.
In school, teacher, it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat. Teach him to learn how to gracefully lose, and enjoy winning when he does win.
Teach him to be gentle with people.
Steer him away from envy if you can
and teach him the secret of quiet laughter.
Teach him, if you can, how to laugh when he is sad; teach him there is no shame in tears.
Teach him there can be glory in failure and despair in success.
Teach him to scoff at cynics.
Teach him if you can the wonders of books, but also give time to ponder the extreme mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun and flowers on a green hill.
Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong.
Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone else is doing it. Teach him to listen to everyone, but teach him also to filter all that he hears on a screen of truth and take only
the good that comes through.
Teach him to sell his talents and brains to the highest bidder but never to put a price tag on his heart and soul.
Let him have the courage to be impatient; let him have the patience to be brave.
Teach him to have sublime faith in himself because then he will always have sublime faith in God.
This is a tall order, teacher, but see what best you can do. He is such a nice little boy; he is my

The Ministry of Education in Kenya needs to distribute this letter to all schools.

The phrase “Teach him that, it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat…” will form the basis of my discussion. The Ministry of Education in Kenya needs to distribute this letter to all schools. Have a look at the letter!

Cheating in examinations in many parts of the world has resulted in serious consequences for the student who cheat. In the United States and UK, if you are caught cheating, you may be banned from the university for a year, you may be denied the right to take the exam at other universities and university colleges, and your exam from the course in which you cheated will be annulled.

Children, parents, guardians and sponsors waste invaluable time and resources that have been spent over the years when results of are candidates are cancelled.

Subsequently, the suffering and sometimes trauma associated with repeating school or having to completely fail to repeat to take exams or dropping completely out of school makes the situation worse and painful indeed.  In addition, cheating in examinations gives undue advantage to those who are involved in the malpractice over honest and hardworking classmates. This makes the act not only illegal but immoral at the same time.

In Kenya and most other countries, copying or even presenting work done by someone else, as yours without acknowledging the work for academic purposes, amounts to cheating or its best poor scholarship and at worst, plagiarism; hence may lead to prosecution.

Examination cheating has several ramifications, some that have far and wide reaching including consequences including cancellation of results and total loss of credibility in the system among others. Invariably, the vice has become rampant over the years, with examination officials, police officers and teachers being accused of engaging in the vice. If this malady is not controlled and stern measures taken against anyone involved in cheating, no doubt the credibility of certificates, diploma and degrees obtained from our schools and institutions of higher learning will be doubted internationally.

In our country, we live in truly sad times with regards to examination malpractice. Cheating in National examinations has become widespread and rampant such that more than 7,700 candidates who sat KCPE and KCSE examinations in 2015 had their examinations results completely cancelled. Some of this student might near have a second chance to seat exams again, thus many wasted years.  In the same year a total of 171 persons were arrested and charged in a Court of law for committing various offences related to the 2015 KCSE examination.

Furthermore, A recent report presented to the Cabinet Secretary (CS) of Education as revealed on the Standard Newspaper, alludes to existence of cartels within the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) a porous examinations security system, tribalism and cronyism, all which, the CS says, contribute to the rot at the national examinations body and the unprecedented levels of cheating witnessed in 2015.

The 2016 examinations marked a new beginning of “honesty” in national examinations after years of exam cheating in Kenya.  Thanks to the radical measures instituted by CS Dr Fred Matiangi. We need to maintain this as we prepare for examinations in 2017 so that we have a cheating free examination in our county.

Whilst everyone must be concerned about the rot in the system and the wider social malaise among the society, it’s important to note that cheating in examinations whether national or local (like the school end of term examinations) is unacceptable, illegal within the law and completely haraam in Islam.

What does Islam say about Cheating

In a famous hadith, Prophet (pbuh) said, “Whoever cheats is not one of us.”  What this means, is that cheating is wrongdoing and it is a haraam means of attaining a degree or certificate, etc., that you have no right to. The consensus is that cheating is a kind of cooperation in sin and transgression. So, do without that which is haraam, and Allah will suffice you from His bounty.

Muslim students must therefore always, reject all offers of haraam things that comes from others.

Whoever gives up a thing for the sake of Allah, will be compensated something better by Allah. You must denounce and resist evil, and tell the authorities about any such thing that you see during the exam, before or after it. This is not the forbidden kind of slander rather, it is denouncing evil!

What is our responsibility as a Muslim

Islam encourages hard work in our daily work as well in school/ studies. It encourages hard work and lawful earnings as opposed to easy/ shortcuts that are unlawful.  This is the same message that teachers remind our students all the time. I have no doubt, if we cultivate the culture of hard work all the way from the time a student is admitted to form one until, when they sit for KCSE, no one will be tempted to cheat.

The 2016 examinations marked a new beginning of “honesty” in national examinations after years of exam cheating in Kenya.  Thanks to the radical measures instituted by CS Dr Fred Matiangi. We must maintain this spirit in the future and support the examination council so that we have credible examinations.

We must as a Muslim community this vice always. People who cheat are either ill prepared or are enticed by unscrupulous individuals who are running exam cartels and want to make fortunes out of vulnerable parents and candidates. They don’t care about the repercussions that innocent kids and their parents suffer after their results are cancelled. They are unscrupulous, dishonest and sadistic par excellence!

At no time should anyone accept cheating this but instead, we should challenge and advise those who buy or sell questions or post them on social media (WhatsApp like in 2015) etc. or who prepare cheat notes or collude to cheat and remind them, to fear Allah, and tell them of the ruling on what they are doing and on the money, they earn from that. Tell them that the time they are spending in preparing these haraam things, if they spent it in studying, or answering previous exams, or helping one another to understand the subject before the exam, or consult their teachers, that would be better for them than doing these Haraam things. I recently visited my daughter’s school- the Nairobi Muslim Academy and what the teachers tell the students is that, if they cheat, they are not one of us.

Finally, please remember that some people are just sick and have very negative mindsets, that unless they cheat they will not do well. By the way, they say the sickness of the mind, is as undesirable as that of the body, it’s a sickness and weakness that we must pray against.  Let us work hard and be contented with the fruits of our labour all the time- This way, we shall remain proud citizens of the world and a just and fair society at home. It’s more honorable and decent to fail that to cheat in examinations.

I wish all the students from the region the best of luck and success in their 2017 examinations and a life free of cheating.

The Author is a Former Secondary School Teacher, Director at the Boarder Point Secondary School in Mandera, Member of the Board of Management of Machakos and Wajir Schools for the Deaf and a Humanitarian Worker.


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