Ochan Robert Leomoi, Graduate of the Master of Education, York University

Borderless Higher Education for Refugees Program

Executive summary:

This paper is a modified version of a Major Research Paper for the Master of Education degree at York University as part of the Borderless Higher Education for Refugees project, which provides virtual education to refugees in the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya. Across the globe, education remains the track which everyone follows in search for success in life socially, economically and politically. Many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa design their curricula to include academic assessment at the end of a planned period to measure how much learning has been achieved. My research project studied the Kenyan national examinations to find out why students in secondary schools in the Dadaab refugee camps engage in examination dishonesty. I asked questions about those who organize such dishonesties and whether study participants had ideas about ways to reduce such dishonesties in secondary schools within refugee camps. Interviews were conducted with five participants: three teachers and two students. The research found that due to anxiety, students in secondary schools engage in unethical practices during examination sessions. Further, exam invigilators together with security personnel who are in control of examination centers receive bribes, which are commonly termed “pocket money.” Consequently, students freely gain access to examination questions prior to the official scheduled date or students are permitted to freely discuss the questions and share answers. Interview data also shows that exam dishonesty happens because students want to further their studies and gain entry into higher education institutions. Participants also claimed that there is marginalization of their region by the national examination council and dishonesty is seen as one solution. The research also found that the security of national examinations is at risk because the information about examinations is normally released by the same examining body then the beneficiaries spread it. Such unethical advancement has become a classic behaviour and every candidate perceives that it is part of a normal culture that should be practiced at every grade level. In view of these findings, this paper makes several recommendations. I propose that education stakeholders have to consider allocating sufficient money for examinations so that the people responsible, including security personnel, are well paid to avoid receiving pocket money from the field. In relation to teacher salaries for both refugee and host communities, UNHCR and the government should increase teachers’ salaries so that they can concentrate on instilling into learners the required knowledge which is stipulated in the syllabus.

Read the full working paper here.