MUTUA: Blame parents, not learners, for exam leakage

When Jean got home, her parents knew something was wrong. “Do you know what happened in school today?” she started when she had composed herself.

“Someone offered to let us know what will be examined next week. Can you imagine that? They wanted us to cheat in the exams.” her voice trailed off as she sat there in disbelief.

This is a rare reaction when comparing it with the recent claims that exams were leaked.

The Kenya National Examinations Council CEO and the Education Cabinet Secretary initially dismissed the allegations of leakage as a hoax, urging students and teachers to ignore media reports of leaked exams.

They later blamed the police, then teachers and finally technology.

What was not mentioned either by the officialdom or media is the matter of values and the erosion of Kenya’s moral foundation that makes it possible for officers to leak exams by selling these to gullible learners and parents.

Jean’s shock arose because cheating is unacceptable in her home. Tim and wife Mary have made it clear to their children that they would rather fail an honest attempt instead of cheat and pass with flying colours.

It’s not just talk in Tim’s household when he was a student in engineering, he encountered a challenge. An experiment they were required to do involved a machine in the university lab that had not worked for almost a decade. The technician, wanting to be helpful, offered to give the students the results obtained when it last worked.

He was caught in a dilemma to either attempt the experiment on a dysfunctional machine or copy the results.

He chose the first option for which the lecturer rewarded him with very low marks. Fortunately, that did not stop him from attaining a First Class Honours in mechanical engineering. This stand, along with other choices he, Mary and their children have made over the course of their lives gives fraud no place in their lives.

Parents, especially those who are Leaders of Family Business who accept, or worse, celebrate results produced by their children through fraud are solely to blame for exam leaks and the moral degradation strangling Kenya.

Leaders of Family Businesses ought to realise that children only cheat if they feel that examination results matter more to their parents than the manner in which they are obtained.

Courage to speak

No child who is assured of a guardian’s support and acceptance regardless of examination outcome will stoop to cheating.

Children who have a family-enforced moral compass will not take aantage of opportunities to cheat they will have the courage to stand up and speak out against such evil.

Children’s actions reflect the values at the family and community level. While there may be a few whose behaviour is in direct contrast to what their parents hold dear in private and in public, majority are guided by what is acceptable in their own homes.

Cheating in exams ought to be blamed on parents, not children.

Strong convictions
It is possible to bring up children to have strong convictions regarding what is right or wrong.

This is only possible when parents live as examples of virtuous behaviour rather than just giving lip service with regard to desirable traits. This does not mean that parents have to be perfect they just have to establish and enforce a moral foundation upon which the family’s bases its behaviour.

No examination at county, national or international level should be presented to children as a life-and-death struggle whose outcome determines their place in the family.

Leaders of Family Business ought to encourage their children to prepare, perform to the best of their ability and to stand up against unethical behaviour in examinations. This is more important than applauding fraud.

Mutua is a Humphrey Fellow, leadership development consultant and author of the book ‘The African Prince’. E-mail address: