The Observer today carried a thought-invoking story about how pre-entry exams for Law students at Makerere University (it has been done before at, in my opinion, the better university, UCU), showed that national school leaving examinations for High School bare little relevance in telling capable students from the rest.
It showed that although the johnny-come-lately breed of private schools that usually has a huge number of A-students has been providing many entrants to the course, once this basic exam was given, most of their students struggled to even get past the pass mark.
The story was basically saying the case of Uganda’s education system of modern times - that private schools simply teach to pass exams, and nothing more. Worse, they probably simply cheat their way past the exams.
And that has been the moral dilemma...that our schools give us half-baked products that are not good enough because they simply cheated. But maybe we have waved these cheaters off too soon. I think we may have over-looked a key point here.
But we should ask ourselves what exactly the job market wants out of students/graduates. We are here insisting on honesty at school and yet we are not very sure the market wants honest graduates.
Students who are able to cheat and pass their exams possess very strong qualities that i am sure most employers want in their staff. It is a quality of thinking on your feet. All employers want that. While an honest student/school, while staring right in the face of failure, for one reason or another, will choose to go “live” into the exams, the cheater however will take extra ordinary measures...like taking the risk of carrying notes into the exam room, or in the case of a school, getting copies of the exam questions before hand. Such people will not hesitate to pull even under-hand methods just to save the company, like electronic firm, Olympics’ former executives.
Cheaters are risk takers, once again, a key quality that employers want in staff.
The big issue here is honesty and morality and all that crap. We need to ask ourselves here, just how much does the job market want honesty? Very very very little, if you ask me. The marketing firm that is trying to sell a beer will make its profits from singing the false praises of a certain beer, even when they know the thing is a plague to human health.
Out there as I write this, one sales-executive after another is knocking upon doors with a well packaged piece of deceit, trying to encourage a business executive to either buy media space, or insurance or whatever. Some of the finest lawyers in the land are going to make a living by telling big lies, in open court, the temple of justice. The richest journalists in the land will cut it by choosing which lies are more profitable to tell over others.
When it comes to procurement, the most successful firms, those that will land all the right contracts, are those who will have the guts to step up and offer a fine incentive, aka bribe. If you are a firm with strong moral obligations, you will watch on as the rest win every single tender on offer. And if you are in an office of influence, you will likely only get rich if you can make a massive kick back off a tender or two.
This is the case in every sector of the economy, even religion, and that is part of the economy too.
I believe in the theory of evolution by natural selection. And i know, nothing can survive on this planet except if there is a need that has sustained it. And that includes all manners of vice. So as we complain about students that cheat exams, we may want to remember that some parts of the economy need these very type of workers to survive.