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2023 BECE results: Cheating cancer metastasised badly

Upon reading the headlines, something just didn’t sound right: “WAEC releases BECE results: Over 22,000 candidates’ scripts under scrutiny”.

This prompted me to delve deeper into the statistics.

A total of 599,312 candidates sat for the 2023 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).

Results of 653 in the examination were either cancelled or being withheld due to malpractices. 

If that were not concerning enough, an additional 22,270 results were under investigation for various examination offences.

This is a perplexing situation! 

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Revisiting the records from 2021, what I discovered was not entirely surprising, except, the figures this time around were truly staggering.

In January 2023, publicly available information showed a total of 583 instances of examination offenses in the 2022 BECE Examination.

In the same year, the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) recorded a whopping 4,659 cases of examination offenses.

Back in 2021, 465 malpractices in BECE and an astounding 5,374 cases in WASSCE were recorded. 

Cheating

A troubling issue looms! Cheating, in any form, at any educational level, is simply unacceptable.

It's crucial to bear in mind that the average age of a BECE candidate is around 15 years old.

Let's consider the 2021― 2022 and previous cases as early warning signs, comparable to a diagnosis of cancer.

Fast forward in 2023, a depressing record of over 22,000 instances of examination offenses are documented among BECE candidates. 

This cancer has been allowed to spread unchecked.

How did it proliferate so rapidly?

If we were to break it down to the individual level, the malpractices reported in this year's BECE account for nearly four per cent of the total number of candidates who took the exam.

This is utterly unacceptable.

Our society faces a bleak future with such staggering numbers of young individuals with a proclivity to cheat.

What has become of integrity?

Where does it fit into our purportedly modern and civilised society?

If we fail to instil a sense of moral uprightness in our youth, then it's safe to say that we are navigating treacherous waters as a nation.  

Questions on institutional morality

Why do these acts of dishonesty and cheating persist in our society?

Why has this behaviour become so ingrained in the Ghanaian child?

Who are the role models of these culprits? 

What values are parents instilling in their children?

What kind of character is being nurtured in school-going youth?

Why do schoolchildren suddenly feel so at ease and entitled to cheat?  

It’s time to return to the basics.

We must guide our children in the right path so that as they mature, they will not stray from it (Proverbs 22:6).

Scripture reminds us, “Whoever walks with integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known” (Proverbs 10:9).

A child of integrity abhors cheating, lying, coveting and all forms of unrighteousness and indiscipline.

Home

The initial and most vital place of education is the home.

Parents must themselves uphold integrity and, through their own conduct, lead their children to espouse same.

Two women in the Bible, Lois and Eunice, serve as inspiring examples of child-rearing.

Their faith and conduct played a pivotal role in nurturing young Timothy in the ways of the Lord (2 Timothy 1:5).

 This is the calling of parents and guardians.

Parents should neither encourage nor entertain discussions about obtaining “apɔ”(leaked examination questions) for their children, and this message must be crystal clear to their young dependents.

Adults should teach children to embrace failure and work diligently for their success.

From a young age, children must learn that unruly behaviours, including cheating and lying, have consequences and punishments.

Conversely, good conduct merits rewards. 

Discipline

Our institutions also bear a critical responsibility in upholding discipline for continuity.

Schools and religious bodies must rise to this challenge.

Schools should not be agents of moral decadence.

Teachers and staff must neither condone nor abet dishonesty among students.

 It is inexcusable for an entire institution to facilitate cheating in any form for its students.

An institution that does so should not go unpunished, to serve as a deterrent to others and the children themselves.

Churches also have a pivotal role in nurturing young souls for Christ.

We understand that anyone who surrenders their life to Christ becomes a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and adopts the mindset of Christ in their earthly journey.

Such individuals naturally detest cheating and all wrongdoing.

If, at the tender ages of 14-15, over 22,000 children aspire to cheat and comfortably embrace dishonesty, what does this portend for our society when this same cohort assumes leadership roles in the next two decades?

Let us focus on whatever is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of good report (Philippians 4:8).

Cheating is neither noble nor lovely. Instead, it is integrity that holds true nobility and beauty!

The writer is a Sunday School Teacher/Founder/President of Kid Patriot Club-Ghana.

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