The Honesty Pledge

 Barbara Wynn writes about her work for ETD in South Africa, April 14th – 16th 2014

“I pledge to uphold the principles of honesty, integrity and selflessness in the conduct of all examinations”

How would you respond to being asked to sign a pledge like that before you take exams or invigilate them?

They tried it in South Africa last year. All High School students and staff were asked to sign a comprehensive pledge including that wording on the same day, and it resulted in a welcome decrease in malpractice.

That’s just one of the fascinating things I learned when I was a keynote speaker at a conference in Johannesburg on “Combating Education Irregularities and Examination fraud”.  The conference was attended by delegates from 11 countries, and the agenda covered practical issues such as:

  •   identity checking
  • care with applications
  • digital processing to increase security

But participants and contributors were clear that the ethics of behaviour in exams is just as important as the logistics of delivering them. It’s a focus schools and colleges here might find very helpful.

Show students the benefits of an honest approach and how it reaps rewards”

The workshop I was invited to run was on “Effective Invigilation”. The organisers came to ETD because of our emphasis on practical, active invigilator training which stresses how to apply the rules and manage candidates, as well as what the rules are.

How would that approach go down on a different continent? Very well indeed! Participants were most enthusiastic about our active exercises and said how much they’d enjoyed and learned from our programme.

They especially loved all our interactive exercises. It seems people the world over like and learn best from active training.

“This is exactly what we want!” Dr Stephen Waithaka, Kenyatta University

I came away reflecting that examinations everywhere face similar problems, and that there is more that unites us than divides us. It was a privilege to meet so many dedicated African exam managers and educationalists, committed to achieving the highest standard in exams.

The appalling standard achieved by Qatar Airways, who turned our outward travel into an endless nightmare and lost our luggage, is another story …

A visit to the nature reserve

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