An ethical evaluation of the causes and effects of examination malpractices in Zambia: A case study of selected Schools in Lusaka District
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The aim of the study was to analyse the causes and effects of examination malpractices on educational standards, the moral character of those involved and socio-economic performance from an ethical perspective. The research was a case study design using the qualitative approach with an ethical component. The study involved five secondary schools from Lusaka, these being Chunga, Matero Girls, Kabulonga Boys, Chelstone and Kamwala Secondary Schools. Primary data was collected using in-depth interviews and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), whereas the secondary data was collected from the literature related to the study, such as books, journals, newspapers and the internet. Those interviewed included guidance and counselling teachers, officials from District Education Board Secretary (DEBS) office and Examinations Council of Zambia (ECZ), school managers and some parents. Three focus group discussions were conducted in each target school with ten pupils per group. Purposive and convenience sampling techniques were used. The study had a total sample size of 190 participants. The theories used to guide the collection of relevant data and to ethically evaluate the effects of examination malpractices were, utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ethics and justice theory. The research revealed that examination malpractices were a big problem in Lusaka as they tended to virtually destroy the moral integrity of the persons involved. This results in a society with a corrupt and incompetent future workforce. By distorting the very essence of education, society tended to be more at a loss than a gain in terms of socio-economic performance because, most often, the certificates achieved did not reflect the actual capabilities of the holder. Recommendations in tackling examination malpractices therefore call for measures such as the government working with the communities and policy makers to raise public awareness on the importance of the integrity of the examination system, inclusion of morality as a subject at various stages of the curriculum, adequately equipping all public schools with relevant learning/teaching materials and the government putting in an incentive structure for teachers and others involved in the handling of examinations. In conclusion, unless the vice is reversed, and through the faculty of reason seek unrelentingly what is right, as regards conduct in examinations and manner of proceedings, the phenomenon would soon distort the developmental goals of the country. The remedy to the negative effects of examination malpractices, thus, presumably lies in the conceded analysis of its ethical implications so as to build a solid future for education and overall socio-economic development nationwide.