Examination  malpractices: what went wrong?

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 12:43:10 +0000

By Edna Yambani

What a long day! I am exhausted but well fulfilled. My day starts early as I have to be at the Examination Centre by 07:00hrs and no excuses are allowed. Traffic jam, sickness, funerals or anything that will delay you from going to work has to be put on hold. I still remember how I felt like I had malaria at one time during invigilation and I had to negotiate with the malaria parasites to hold on until the Examination period was over and for sure I remained fit for duty!

We are outside the Examination Hall and I address the candidates: Good morning, please line up and allow me to conduct a thorough search in your pockets, shoes, socks and any other necessary places….(laughter from candidates).

I explain further: This thorough search is one of the measures taken against EXAMINATION MALPRACTICES and anyone found wanting will be disqualified.

The candidates stop laughing and I can detect small scale panic attacks from some of their faces and that gives me a clue on who to watch closely once the Examination starts. But what is an EXAM? What are MALPRACTICES? What are the effects and consequences of these MALPRACTICES? How can we curb this vice? I will explain with real life stories but will use fictitious names for obvious reasons since this article is ONLY meant for awareness purposes.



My small Oxford school dictionary defines an EXAMINATION in Education circles as a test of a person’s knowledge and/or skill. The Examination tests the capacity of someone’s knowledge and so it helps to determine a learner’s strong and weak points to be used for his future or present career. In other words, Examinations are indicative of factual knowledge acquired by a learner at a certain level. Examinations are also used to predict further education achievement. Examinations may be used for selection to another level of learning and also for certification purposes meaning that after passing an Examination, a candidate is either awarded a certificate (Diploma, Degree etc) as proof of achievement or is allowed to go up to the next level or both. I saw and heard the pupils screaming after writing an easy examination: UNZA here we come, CBU here we come….They anticipate a passage to another academic level after passing the examination.



Generally speaking, MALPRACTICE refers to a contradiction in behaviour to a laid down code of conduct. It logically follows, that EXAMINATION MALPRACTICES refer to deliberate actions taken by candidates which are contrary to the official examination rules  laid down by the relevant authority, in our case, Examination Council of Zambia.

EXAMINATION MALPRACTICE is illegal because it entails cheating on the part of learners in order to come up with good or better grades. Cheating excludes the truth, therefore cheaters in malpractices are living a lie. Please read the Bible in the book of Proverbs Chapter 11 verse 5.



  1. Impersonating

Mr Mwamba, who happens to be my tribal cousin, decided to write the Geography examination for his wife kafula who was in grade 12 because he loved her very much. He wore her uniform in form of a grey flared skirt and a white short sleeved blouse. He also wore her white socks and black Bata shoes for ladies. God help us! Mr Mwamba looked like a clown because it was so obvious that he was a man in a girl’s uniform. He was caught and arrested.

Mulenga and Bwalya are identical twin sisters who are at different study levels, Mulenga is writing her grade 12 exams but her sister wrote last year. Bwalya got a distinction in Mathematics last year and so she offered to write in place of Mulenga who had not been doing well in the same subject. It was impossible to tell by simply looking at the photograph of the school identity card displayed during Examinations that Bwalya was impersonating her sister so she got past the invigilator with ease. Bwalya confidently wrote her name on the answer script because she forgot that she had to pretend to be Mulenga. She was caught by the invigilator because the subject Examination register bore the name Mulenga and not Bwalya. That is how Mulenga missed the opportunity to write the Mathematics Examination. The sight of the pretty twin sisters was unbearable at the Police Station as their mother wept uncontrollably.

  1. Leakages

Mwenya, a grade 12 pupil was already in the family way. Her condition made it difficult for her to concentrate on her studies and she was sure of failing in all subjects due to lack of preparation. She decided to hire touts who managed to make available examination papers before the authorised date and time at a good price. In other words she was availed with the confidential material in form of the actual examination papers before time. In this context, touts refer to the people who went to source for the confidential examination paper in order to make a profit by selling it to the pupil. Oh what an offence before God and before man! Mwenya was delighted and since she had a gift of talking, she told her best friend who told her teacher to help with answers. The teacher who refused to be part of the evil scheme reported the matter to the police. Mulenga, her friend and the touts were arrested and the source of the paper was traced to an authority we least expected. Some guardians actually buy Leaked papers for their children which is unbelievably wrong.

Sources indicate that as early as 1914, a Cambridge local Examination paper had leaked in one of the African countries. Sadly, the malpractice is an old habit.

  1. Collusion

Collusion refers to a kind of agreement by people to cheat or deceive someone. In the scope of this paper, collusion is seen in the assistance of other candidates in the Examination Hall, passing round of some answers in form of notes, receiving indications of answers in form of codes using hand gestures or any body language and actual copying from each other.

  1. Aggressive behaviour

Mutale Mwaume realised that what he was writing in a Science paper 2 Examination was all wrong so he decided to let it out on the invigilator by tearing his answer script. This attracted the invigilator who decided to send him outside the Examination room to prevent further disturbances to other pupils who were already distracted. Mutale refused to go out and loudly insulted the invigilator while threatening to beat him after the examination was over. However, Mutale decided to go out but carefully attempted to sneak out the question paper. The invigilator noticed and got the question paper. Dear readers, Mutale had committed the following forms of EXAM MALPRACTICES in 10 minutes:

  • Threatening the invigilator
  • Tearing Examination materials
  • Attempting to sneak out examination materials
  • Disrupting an examination

All the above mentioned mini events constitute malpractices. What a load of offenses for a 17 year old boy committed in a very short period of 10minutes. The poor boy was a sorrowful sight at the police station!

  1. Disobeying orders/instructions

Chansa was writing a Civic Education paper 2 and suddenly, she heard the sound of the school siren, she knew what that meant and the invigilator shouted Time is up …please put down your pens. Unfortunately, Chansa was a slow writer and had not finished answering all the questions by that time. She decided to continue writing hoping the invigilator would exercise leniency. When it was time to give up her paper she just continued writing and refused to give it up causing tension and panic in the examination hall. Dear readers, Chansa had committed the following offenses:

  • Refusing to stop writing
  • Refusing to hand in her answer script
  • Disturbing the examination

All these offences amount to EXAM MALPRACTICE.

  1. Miscellaneous ways of cheating

There are so many other ways of cheating that have been detected such as:

  • Fore Knowledge of examination questions even without being in possession of the actual paper.
  • Awarding of false or undeserving marks to pupils during practical and oral examinations.
  • Handing in more than one answer script
  • Sneaking into the examination hall already written answers on different materials such as handkerchiefs, kwacha notes (money), tissue paper, palm of the hand. These are usually hidden in places you wouldn’t want to know, but within the candidate’s body.



Why would our dear pupils engage themselves in such illegal activities and risk being disqualified from the examination? Well, there are several reasons but I will only point out the main ones. It is unfortunate that a lot of value is placed on the certificate (paper) and so some pupils will do anything no matter how sinful to obtain the precious paper. This is so because of laziness to study, revise or even attend classes. Other reasons could be lack of confidence in oneself as a pupil and also peer pressure. Another common reason is pressure to perform wonders in examinations. This pressure may also be unconsciously exerted on pupils by some guardians and parents. Let us forgive them for now, but we will ask them to please take it easy. Lastly circumstances may affect the finishing of the syllabus while learning, causing panic among pupils. The panic is unnecessary.



EXAMINATION MALPRACTICES erode the trust in the education system and its products. Malpractices can lead to nullification of results, delay in announcing of results and congest the courts with long processing of cases. Candidates engaged in these malpractices have a fair or unfair advantage over the others and may proceed to the next academic level when they don’t deserve to, this discourages hard working learners. Learners who cheat are likely to be inefficient in their jobs because of fake results which may affect economic growth of an organisation and the country as a whole. What is the way forward?

During a special mass to bless grade 7, 9 and 12 Examination candidates, Fr Sydney Musonda (OMI) spoke strongly against EXAMINATION MALPRACTICES. He advised these youths to work very hard as opposed to depending on LEAKAGES. After blessing the youths, Fr Sydney explained that if a person did not study hard, they would still fail the examination even if they received a blessing from the church.

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