There is a Swahili saying that goes like “when elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers”. This saying came to my mind today as I was reading articles and comments related to the release of the 2011 Standard Seven Examination results in Tanzania. A total of 983,545 students sat for Standard Seven Examination in 2011. It is true that some gains have been made on the pass rate of standard seven graduates from 2010 to 2011. There has been a 4.76% jump over the one year period from 53.52% in 2010 to 58.28% in 2011. That in itself is commendable.
On the flip-side, cheating incidents have increased 78.5 times over the same period. From 124 cancelled student’s results in 2010 to 9,736 cancelled student’s results in 2011. Student cheating during examination in the Tanzanian education system is not a new phenomenon. Leaking of examination papers goes way back since the time I was in primary school.
The question is “who is leaking exams at the Ministry, the regional, and the school levels?.” There is no need to be complacent. Leaked examination papers always shows up each year close to the testing period. It is a huge business and almost everyone in the education field in Tanzania knows this. At times, three to five exam papers maybe circulating all over the country. Do we also blame the pupils for that? I also find the mass punishment of the pupils and parents caught up in this mess is excessive. Adults need to be held accountable here and not children. However, I do agree with the suggestions to establish a “Form One” entrance exam to all incoming Form One students to assess their abilities in reading, writing, and mathematics.