Cheating in universities has gone tech in developed countries but now African countries students are fast catching up with their counterparts. In the past, cheating was unheard of and in rare cases when people were caught cheating, the stigma that followed them deterred would cheaters to do even contemplate it. A new independent researchers report by South Africa Think Tank claims that an alarming rate of students are cheating in exams and plagiarising assignments with minimal consequences not only in South Africa but other African countries as well.The researchers are concerned about how the institutions dealt with plagiarism after obtaining documents from the universities showing sickening rates of cheating.The basic finding was that a person could be found guilty of plagiarism and there was a warning given but worse than that, the person could be caught several times and nothing actually happens, report notes.The authors of the report say repeat offenders should be removed from the course and publishing their names online should be considered. Once you have been caught more than once something more drastic has to occur. Figures from the Universities in South Africa showed there were more than 3,000 students caught plagiarizing between 2015 and 2016 and over 300 were caught cheating on exams, with more than 50 students caught on more than three occasions. The latest figures were an increase on those from the past three years.In Nigeria, the researchers found students at several universities have been caught using highly sophisticated cameras linked to digital watches to cheat during exams. In most reported cases, students used wireless spycameras to capture exam questions, transmit them to associates elsewhere and receive responses through linked invisible devices some which are designed as zip and buttons.Shockingly, none of the said exams in question was cancelled after the plot was discovered and surprisingly students were allowed to continue with the exams and graduated.No doubt there are crooks who are offering highly invisible and sophisticated devices for covert cheating in exams through wireless audio transmission.Some of those devices like eye glasses appears to display nothing when switched on. But when the user looks through the glasses, the screen becomes visible and you can see any uploaded content, such as exam cheat notes.The cheating culture among universities students in Nigeria according to the report authors shows how easily high-tech devices are available to those who seek to gain an unfair advantage in educational pursuits. Unfortunately, it’s a problem that will only get worse when devices become cheaper and more readily available.
Devices available online have the capability to take photos, send information and also display information on the lens itself.The report notes that the number of students caught each year represented less than 3 per cent of the total student population in Africa.The slight increase in the numbers of confirmed incidents is roughly commensurate with the rate of increase in the number of students enrolled at the universities in Africa. The authors said universities in Africa took plagiarism and cheating very seriously and some of them have kicked out students.In Kenya, university students have often made clear to management they expect cheats to be dealt with decisively, and all students are provided with information about our policies on cheating. According to the report, penalties in Kenya range from awarding 0 per cent in a course to, in repeat cases, suspension from the university.In Uganda, universities have seen an increase in the number of cheating and plagiarism incidents but similarly maintained it reflected a rise in enrollments. At East Africa’s number one University, Makerere located in Wandegeya, a Kampala suburb, students who breach academic conventions put their degree at risk and face very serious penalties ranging from a formal reprimand through to expulsion.In some cases the student might not be permitted to reapply for a specified period of time.The report data shows cheating was most prevalent among students studying nursing, education, law and commerce.However, the exact numbers of students caught cheating in the ten countries covered by the report were not readily available but incidents had steadily ranged from 100 to 300 each year for the past six years. Year on year, authors found that about five out of ten incidents involve minor breaches such as failure to adequately reference sources of information in written submissions.In most instances, the student does not re-offend after being made aware of expectations in terms of referencing the work of others.In countries like South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, there is a very open marketplace where students can buy devices to aid cheating in exams. They are not hard to find even on local shops according to the report. Education stakeholders seems to be clueless about such gadgets. Similar devices are also being sold on shopping sites and when i checked one of the sites which is highly rated in East Africa, that owners appear to claim no ethical responsibility for what is being sold on their platforms especially on exam cheating devices. The marketing of such gadgets to students for cheating in exams is an issue that is plaguing educational institutions.As the report authors noted, the dilemma facing exam administrators is deciding which devices to ban and how.In order to eliminate the problem of differentiating between devices in an exam environment, universities in Africa need to implement bans on all gadgets from smart glasses to smart wrist watches. As new technologies emerge, African countries educational institutions need to come up with better plans to combat these new and advanced ways of cheating and devise solutions for each.