Official Examinations : Seeking Premium Standards

News on the media has highlighted a deep concern about the handling of public exams in Cameroon. The exam boards this year meted out extensive sanctions on some examiners, writing centres and candidates who messed up with assessment ethics. Even the respectable college of Catholic Bishops in Anglophone Cameroon has raised worries about what they termed “The Upward Surge in Examination Malpractices”. The Prelates who are also proprietors of renowned educational institutions were meeting in Kumba, Meme Division, South West Region of Cameroon. The occasion from August 17-22, 2023 was their 75th Ordinary meeting of the Bamenda Provincial Episcopal Conference.  Cristal in the Bishop’s Kumba final communiqué was their assertion of what they described as: “Alarming increase in the number and types of examination malpractices registered in the 2023 session of the GCE Examination”.
As a gist of solution, the spiritual authorities summoned the “Collective efforts of teachers, parents, religious denominations, and the Ministries in charge of Education for the reinforcement of education in integrity, the establishment of discipline, and a culture of hard work, and merit”.  The bishops did not end at the general indictment, they went specific making a strong appeal to the Cameroon General Certificate of Education Board (GCE Board) to better organise the examination and to adopt measures to reduce exam malpractices.
The GCE Board itself had frowned at exam offenses during the 2023 session by sanctioning examiners, candidates and centres for unorthodox conduct. Their salvo was also directed towards some catholic schools whose candidates were mercilessly sanctioned for having colluded in exam fraud. However disgraceful that was for denominational exam centres, it is clear that cheating has gained a wide spectre of society irrespective of the cloak.
Pertaining to education, teaching, evaluating and certifying are the prerogatives of schooling or learning institutions under State supervision. The threefold societal mission, also called education, operates in harmony to build citizens and classify them for various functions in the city. Educational experts agree that the purpose of education is to acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes useful for the individual and the society. Educational systems can be likened to a ladder. At the base is teaching. When the necessary teaching is done, the next rung of the ladder is examinations, which can also be called evaluation or assessment. The third stage is certifying, which is purely a domain of the State used to place citizens in various categories, levels and functions. Yet, certifying can only come through examination.
Dwelling particularly on Exams and their standards, purpose of this outing, it is important to underscore its usefulness to test or assess knowledge, skills, and abilities of learners. However, as educational practices evolve and new assessment methods emerge, the need to preserve and uphold the standards of official or public examinations becomes increasingly important.
That is why State Governments may create specialized institutions to handle some official exams. In the case of Cameroon and for Secondary Education, the Government erected the Cameroon General Certificate of Education Board (CGCEB) by decree of 1st July, 1993. In the same vein, the “Office du Baccalauréat” in French or the Bacc Board in English was instituted on 28 September, 1993. Both examination bodies are specialised agencies of the State meant to conduct the evaluation and certification of learning at the intermediate level of education in Cameroon.
In the wake of current examination sanctions by Exam Boards, many questions are moving the lips as to whether stakeholders have lived up to expectation in playing their rolls? The GCE Board does not stand alone to be questioned. Other investors in education are guilty of falling standards. Such include candidates in their zeal to pass exams, teachers and school proprietors in their fervour to make results, fame seeking parents defending their lazy children, and some authorities thriving in laxity. The mainstream and social media are awash with exam sanctions, malpractices, leakages, and even poor exam question printing. Where to hide the head? Standards must be maintained in official examinations to ensure fairness, credibility, equality among candidates and assurance of capable citizens. It is a matter of having a level playing field with transparent rules and regulations and a firm hand to sanction derailment. By adhering to established standards, educational institutions can ensure that all learners are graded...



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