THE BREACHES during Wednesday’s CXC mathematics examination at the Tranquillity Government Secondary School were as multitudinous as they were brazen. Students were left unsupervised, some entered the room with unauthorised devices, some walked around the room, some communicated with others, some indulged in unfair and dishonest practices by sharing the exam script, some shared their answers live on social media. And that’s what we know so far.
We know enough to award a failing grade to the invigilators who allowed this to happen. Scrutiny must be placed on the selection and training of such invigilators. Their job is to ensure an orderly and fair environment and to keep an eye out for any irregularities. At no point should they be missing in action or asleep at the wheel.
The saddest part of this, however, is the lack of guilty conscience on the part of the students implicated. How could they feel such conduct was permissible? Social media and its supporting technology have become ubiquitous, yes, but a basic sense of right and wrong should push students to better behaviour. Sharing answers, and broadcasting them online to boot, can never be appropriate. Did they think this was a mock exam?
It is for CXC to determine the appropriate course of action, which includes the option of banning the students from sitting future examinations for a period of up to two years. Whatever decision is taken, it is a shame the students have disgraced themselves in this way. They have given their school and this country a bad name.
What is particularly painful is the fact that even innocent students in the room may have to bear the consequences for the actions of a few. Examinations are stressful enough. It is sad that students now have to worry about their efforts being scuttled by a few bad apples.
Something is dramatically wrong for a scandal like this to happen in the first place. Clearly, there needs to be stricter control over what enters the examination room and who does the supervision.
The Tranquillity incident should act as a reminder for all schools to review measures in place to ensure systems are watertight. The Ministry of Education also needs to take a closer look at the selection of invigilators as well as the terms and conditions governing their employment. The seasonal nature of the work belies its gravity, as this scandal all too well demonstrates.
“You have to check even the wristwatches now,” says TTUTA second vice president Kyrla Robertson-Thomas.
The breach is even more worrying coming amid intense scrutiny over security arrangements at schools in the wake of violent incidents involving parents. Though the instances of violence are far worse, we cannot help but wonder if adult misbehaviour is setting the tone for children who are now simply following in their footsteps.