Council probes exams scam

Council probes exams scam

MASERU – THE Examinations Council of Lesotho (ECOL) is investigating five schools where teachers are suspected to have helped students cheat in their Junior Certificate (JC) examinations last year, thepost can reveal.

The ECOL director, Dr Litšabako Ntoi, told thepost yesterday the incidents under investigation are “particularly shocking” because the suspects were brazen in their cheating.
“It’s a new way of cheating we have never seen before,” Ntoi said.
The ECOL suspects that the teachers gave students answers or actually wrote the exams. In some cases, the council suspects, some of the students wrote the exams in the comfort of their homes.

Exam results for the schools have been withheld pending finalisation of the investigations, said Ntoi. The names of the schools have not been released.   “We have seen instances where there is a mix-up of papers or that papers have been leaked, but these (cases of suspected cheating at these schools) are not common,” she said. “This kind (of cheating) where students could have been helped (during) their exam is new to us.” Ntoi said the council has asked the police to help in the investigation. She said in the past some schools were prosecuted in courts for examination related crimes and some teachers were sentenced to jail.

“If it is established that they really copied, these schools will face the consequences.”
Ntoi said the council is worried about the cases of cheating. The JC results released this month show that three in very ten students who sat for the exams failed. That failure rate is almost the same as recorded in 2014 and 2015. Those who fail JC have to repeat. In some schools it means going a grade back and writing your JC again in two years’ time. For some it means leaving school for good.

The Ministry of Social Development and other development partners that assist children through education grants and scholarships say those sponsored need to keep passing to be eligible for scholarships in the following year. According to a research by the Ministry of Education for the launch of the Lesotho Education Quality for Equality Project (LEQE), the retention rate in secondary education is 75 percent. In October last year the ministry launched a M375 million project to improve the quality of education in Lesotho’s schools.

The project is being run by the Ministry of Education with assistance from the World Bank.
There are some schools that are so bad that they don’t produce a single JC pass.
Jone Marole, the Regional Inspector at Ministry of Education, said although some might want to blame teachers and parents for the dismal performance it is important to understand that the problem is much broader.  The three-year LEQE project aims at improving the quality of education and decrease the number of dropouts in 300 worst performing primary schools and 65 secondary schools. The selected schools will have training of the School Improvement Plan that has four stages of reflection, planning, action and monitoring.

Rose Moremoholo

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