By Miriam Zarriga in Port Moresby
For the first time in the life of school exams in Papua New Guinea, police will monitor the national grades 8, 10 and 12 exams over the next three weeks.
The engagement of the police is to provide security for invigilators (teachers who supervise exams) and to crack down on cheating and bribery.
Education Minister Jimmy Uguro announced the extraordinary intervention, saying that more than 200,000 students were expected to sit for the exams cross the country.
Several policemen from the Special Services Division (SSD) are now travelling into several provinces around the country — including Morobe, Madang, Eastern Highlands, Southern Highlands and Hela — as they assist the invigilators and other Education officials to carry out their duties during the three weeks of examinations.
In recent years, PNG has experienced an unprecedented rise in cheating scandals from several schools across the country and as such the inclusion of police is a way to deter such activities from being carried out.
Uguro said that cheating during the examinations would not be tolerated with students warned to be mindful as they sat for the exams.
“While we do not wish to include police officers in such activities, the safety of the invigilators and education staff is of paramount importance. People will do anything to ensure their child goes into university, however we want it to be done the right way and not through bribery and cheating,” he said.
Western Highlands cheating
The warning comes after several schools in Western Highlands in 2019 saw more than 400 students not certified because of cheating.
And several more schools in the years that have followed have seen students cheating in schools across the country.
All of the students in the three grades have been warned to not cheat during the examination with the National Education Board implementing strict rules while students are sitting for the exams.
Uguro said that while he wished the students the best of luck in their examinations, he wanted all them to know that cheating would not be tolerated and there would be severe consequences for such actions being taken by any student.
“If anyone is found to be cheating, they will be severely penalised and cheating is an attitude that is unfair, and cannot be allowed to continue,” he said.
“Those found to be cheating on any of the days for the three grades will be banned from continuing the exams, and we will be reporting any illegal activities and practices found to be carried out during the examination processes.”
Uguro said the warning was not only for the students but for the teachers and other help around the schools who were assisting with cheating.
Cheats ‘will not be certified’
“They will be dealt with by police,” he added. “If you are found cheating, the only penalty we will give is you are not going to be certified. No student and school will be certified if they are caught cheating.”
Teachers would be terminated and would never teach again, said Minister Uguro.
If teachers had been found to have assisted in cheating and bribery, they would also face not teaching again he reiterated.
For the students, those found to be cheating would be referred to the National Education Board (NEB) and appropriate action would be taken, Uguro said.
Minister Uguro also took the time to wish the students the best of luck and urged them to do their best.
“I want to wish all students the best in the exams today and I challenge them to do their best for themselves and their families and for the country.”
200,000 students start exams
Today the 200,000 students from more than 3000 schools in the country will sit for the papers with the Grade 10s commencing the start of examination.
The examination will conclude on Friday.
On October 17 the Grade 12s start their exams and end on Friday, October 21.
The third and final week will see grade 8s commence their exams on Monday, October 24, and end on Friday, October 27.
Miriam Zarriga is a PNG Post-Courier reporter. Republished with permission.