August 10, 2020
By Sulaiman B. Sowa
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Southern Region Office has, on the 6th August 2020, engaged educational stakeholders in Pujehun District, to foster partnership in preventing examination malpractices. The engagement took place at the district’s library hall in Pujehun Town.
Speaking during the engagement, ACC’s Southern Region Manager, Musa J.B Jawara, said partnership is key to the fight against corruption and that such an engagement seeks to educate and enlist public officers in the fight against the scourge. He spoke about the need for collaboration with key stakeholders to prevent acts of corruption, noting that examination malpractice is not an accidental occurrence, but a consequence of corruption.
Mr Jawara informed all that, there is now an expressed offence for examination malpractice in the 2008 Anti-Corruption Act as amended in 2019, which provides for a penalty of 50 million leones or 5 years imprisonment or both fine and jail term. “This is not to make any public officer feel threatened but to remind them that examination malpractice is sanctioned and punishable by law,” he noted.
Mr. Jawara opined that, during the past public examinations in 2019, the ACC arrested some pupils alleged to have been involved in examination malpractices and findings revealed that, the act is a syndicate orchestrated by teachers and students in a conspiracy to perpetuate academic fraud. He therefore urged all present at the engagement to partner with the ACC to prevent examination malpractices as it would serve the country’s developmental aspirations.
The Minister of Basic and Senior School Education, Dr David Sengeh, added voice to the partnership by noting that the engagement is timely and appropriate as it seeks to address a common threat to the free quality education programme. Dr. Sengeh said that examination malpractice is manifest in every career in the country- as there are either engineers who cannot properly construct a building, or medical doctors who cannot cure simple ailments, or lawyers who cannot show their wit in court. He concluded by admonishing students to desist from examination malpractices, as it was better to fail with integrity than to pass by cheating.
Deliberating on the Ministry’s preparedness to prevent examination malpractices in public exams, Deputy Director of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education Pujehun District, Prince Ngebeh, said that examination malpractice is not a new phenomenon but that the spate of its perpetuation and indulgence by students, aided by teachers, is unprecedented. He said the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education had organized a one-week training for principals in Pujehun District to aid their knowledge in detecting examination malpractices.
He categorically stated that a communique has been developed defining the scope and limitations of their monitoring of public examinations with stringent actions to be instituted against any school authority implicated in examination malpractices. Mr. Ngebeh cautioned all school authorities to desist from engaging in examination malpractices as anyone involved in same will be sacked.
ACC DIALOGUES WITH EDUCATION PARTNERS IN MILE 91 TO TACKLE MALPRACTICES IN PUBLIC EXAMINATIONS
Constructive engagement is one of the Anti-Corruption Commission’s (ACC) preventive drive to interface with education partners to tackle unethical academic practices and to promote the culture of integrity and patriotism in the conduct of public examinations. In this regard, the Public Education Unit of the ACC’s North-East Region has on Thursday 29th July 2020, engaged strategic education partners in Yoni Chiefdom, at the Conference Hall of Lift Salone, Dawaah Compound, Mile 91 Town, Tonkolili District.
Speaking to supervisors of the West Africa Examinations Council (WAEC), civil society activists, officers of the Sierra Leone Police and journalists, ACC Public Education Officer Abdulai Saccoh highlighted the significance of the meeting and described it as an affirmative action to work with strategic partners that will superintend the conduct of the forthcoming public examinations.
Mr Saccoh said public perceptions about the conduct of public examinations are negative because of the lack of trust in the process due to systemic corruption. The Public Education Officer admonished them not to use the call to national service as an opportunity to accord unfair advantage to undeserving candidates. He informed his audience about the ACC’s interventions to address this societal malaise through the launch of a task force on examination malpractice, sustained public awareness programmes and customized meetings with education partners across the country.
He highlighted a number of offences as enshrined in the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 as amended in 2019 such as abuse of office, abuse of position and academic malpractice. The Public Education Officer reminded the participants of the consequences that await anyone convicted of the abovementioned offences including a fine of not less than fifty million Leones or imprisonment for a term not less than five years or both fine and prison term.
In his statement, ACC Pubic Education Officer Abdul Karim Bangura said the meeting is intended to forge alliances with parties involved in the conduct of public examinations. Mr Bangura added that the engagement is not meant to vilify anyone but to remind them of the various regulations governing the conduct of public examinations. He said it is imperative on public officers to guide the country’s greatest asset -the human resource- to believe in hard work instead of cheating.
The meeting was climaxed with an interactive session where participants shared some of the factors responsible for the abysmal performance of pupils in public exams; these include low stipend to WAEC invigilators and supervisors and delay in payment of same, poor preparation of pupils in examination classes, inadequate number of qualified teachers in remote communities, poor conditions of service of teachers, lack of integrity exhibited by some parents and guardians, delays in the disbursement of fee subsidies, overcrowded classrooms and the proliferation of community schools without recourse to laid down procedures.