Open Letter to Education Minister, Janet Museveni; Online Examination, at whatever level of instruction, is broad-day examination malpractice

The whole arrangement of online examination will not get us anywhere, for eventually we shall have to pay heavily, both in the short- and long-term, since the job market will be flooded with many FAKE graduates.

Online Examination

Education Minister Janet Museveni

Examination has been generally accepted as the best means of assessment. It involves formal testing of knowledge, skills, and abilities, among the other competencies.

Arguably, in a typical school setting, examination is a means through which teachers and/or educators, in general, are able to evaluate and/or determine the extent to which the student has mastered the content of a given discipline within a specific period of time. Precisely, examination is considered to be an ideal tool used in the assessment of individual skills and knowledge-content, both in general and specific area of study.

The teaching-learning process becomes significantly effective and productive after subjecting the student to an authentic, valid, and reliable examination arrangement, aimed at determining the extent to which they (students) have assimilated the content of the instruction given. Similarly, the teacher/educator also uses the administered examination to assess him/herself basing on the learners’ performance.

Unfortunately, this all essential means of assessment has become ineffective, largely because of the advent of all forms of examination malpractice into the system, the latest being online examination. Though with reservations, I strongly support the advent of e-learning, more so at the higher level of instruction. Like David Wasike, a lecturer in International University of East Africa, puts it, “CoViD-19 has reminded us (educators) that we need to redefine the classroom.

With COViD-19, the world will never be the same again”. “We should accept this change, and live with it. We can no longer insist on the traditional face-to-face class, if continuity of the teaching-learning process is to be ascertained”, says Wasike. While it is okay for us as a country to embrace e-learning, or blended learning, we should be mindful of the likely dangers and repercussions of online examinations. After involving the Police and of recent the army, in the management of UNEB examinations, we cannot again give a lee-way to tertiary institutions and universities to administer online examinations. In fact, if students at the higher level of the can be subjected to online examinations, I personally see no reason as to why government should continually waste taxpayers’ money of funding UNEB and all those other numerous examining bodies. Let P.7, S.4, and S.6 students of 2020, and the years to come, sit for their examinations online, as well. In fact, let me pose a few questions to those universities administering online examinations, which some have described as “take-home examinations”. First, do you actually know the meaning of the term “examination?” And how different is an examination from a course work? According to you, is it appropriate for students to do both course works and examinations, under the take-home arrangement? If so, who supervises this student during the time of doing the examination while at home? A typical examination at the higher level of instruction takes three hours, and recall timing is among the principal requirements of assessment: So, in this case, who checks on the time taken by the student while writing out his/her exam? How valid are online examinations?

How authentic are they? According to you, can online examinations be conducted in a transparent manner, aware of the fact that transparency is one of the core princples and practices of good assessment? Where is the fairness when it comes to administering online examinations?

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Do online examinations take into account the principle of construct relevance, another yet key principle of good assessment? For what reasons are students given examinations? Now that both course work and examinations are done online, how do you counter the malpractice, which is, of course, evident in course works? Have you laboured to find out the reasons why the people who designed the mode of assessment at the higher instruction level, specifically university, came up with the two forms of assessment-course work (which can either be conducted as a test, or take-home assignment) and examination (which must be conducted within the confines of the examining institution)? Unless convincing answers to the questions are found, I still insist that administration of online examinations, regardless of the level of instruction, is broad-day examination malpractice, and should, therefore, be halted, forthwith. However, for purposes of confidently, I will not mention the universities conducting online examinations.

But if the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) is behind this arrangement, then, there is no doubt, they (NCHE), were/are wrong in their decision. Education is a lifetime investment; at least, I can guarantee with certainty that it (education) is not ending with CoViD-19. We cannot afford to have FAKE graduates, all in the name of CoViD-19. By and large, as already mentioned, conducting online examination is akin to examination malpractice. The whole arrangement of online examination will not get us anywhere, for eventually we shall have to pay heavily, both in the short- and long-term, since the job market will be flooded with many FAKE graduates.

Jonathan Kivumbi, Educationist, communication and language skills analyst. 0702303190/0770880185. [email protected]

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