One of the manifestations of moral depravity is thievery. Regardless of whether it is petty or grand, stealing is a crime. Crimes against education are particularly odious because they are no different to killing a generation. This Monday the Ministry of Education decided to cancel and defer to an unspecified date National Higher Education Entrance Examination after a leaked English examination designated Code 14 was posted on various social media. Consequently, some 254,000 students who were due to sit for the 4-day examination were victimized for no fault of their own. The individuals who collaborated in the perpetration of the crime by posting the leaked exam online are no less culpable than those who actually leaked the exam. No matter what justification aggrieved parties may tender to defend their misdeed, they should be roundly condemned for jeopardizing one of the pillars in the enlightenment of a society like Ethiopia to advance a political end.
As we have reiterated on several occasions lawlessness, corruption, and maladministration flourish in the absence of accountability. This in turn endangers the very moral fiber of the nation and the values of the society. The actions of elements that are incapable of seeing beyond and are blinded by their selfish need pose a grave threat to the entire nation. That is why it is incumbent upon the relevant authorities to launch a thorough investigation into the matter in order to determine the identity of the parties responsible for leaking the examination and the role they played with a view to bringing them to justice. If prompt measures are not taken to nip such an atrocious crime in the bud, even more egregious offences are bound to occur.
Everyone can easily empathize with the ordeal that the students who were sitting for the entrance exam and their parents are going through. Admittedly, national exams have been leaked before, albeit on a smaller scale. Given that in the age of social media any leaked exam can be accessed by anyone from one corner of the country to another, how does the decision to cancel the exam sit with the hundreds of thousands of exam candidates? What assurance do they have that future exams will not be leaked? Who is to be held responsible if they still feel jittery despite the government’s plea that they await the rescheduled exams with patience? And who shall atone for the psychological blow inflicted on them? These questions need to be addressed quickly.
It is high time that we show, as a nation, greater concern than ever before when untoward practices rampant in other sectors begin to afflict the education sector as well. It is quite appalling to see the compatriots who leaked the exam offer an unacceptable justification to defend a wrongdoing that has wreaked havoc, to see self-serving collaborators make money on the suffering of innocent students, and to see the government agency responsible for maintaining the integrity of education fail to announce the launch of an inquiry the moment the leak was discovered. The fact that the leak, which goes against centuries-old societal values of Ethiopians,transpired soon after the government called on citizens to safeguard their pride by condemning cheating on exams makes the whole affair a source of national shame and outrage.
The leak takes place at a time the government has acknowledged that the ubiquitousbad governance, miscarriage of justice and corruption cannot be countenanced and must be combated vigorously. The government is bound to be held answerable if it does not initiate an independent investigation into the reprehensible act that took place in its own backyard. In the meantime officials who are entrusted with the responsibility of seeing to it that leaks do not arise have to be relieved of their duties until the probe is completed and their innocence is established. No-one is above the law.
Aside from incurring spiraling costs to cover the cost of education, parents spare nothing to ensure that their children have a bright future. Actually they have a moral and legal obligation to do so. Children also have the duty to pursue their education with seriousness so that they accomplish their purpose in life and become productive citizens. The government and the public at large on their part are obliged to provide the required education for the leaders of the next generation. The cost associated with the preparation and administration of the exam for which 254,000 students were due to sit is covered by taxpayers. The country has no oil money while its export earning is negligible. The wastage of hundreds of millions collected from hardworking farmers and workers by those who have no love or country is infuriating. To make matters worse some individuals have openly supported on social media the leak instead of tabling suggestions that help to do away with the problems plaguing the delivery of education, a fundamental component in the shaping of a generation.
The plummeting of the quality of education, the booming business for the ‘authors’ of graduation thesis, the pervasive mismanagement and corruption evident in educational institutions, the unchecked proliferation of establishments around learning centers which expose students to various forms of addiction, etc. are all major headaches for the country. The leaking of exam papers compounds the already dire situation even further and may cause one to lose heart in facing up to it. However, for the sake of the rule of law the necessary price has to be paid in order to bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice. Though it is unclear how the government can make strides while it is reeling from all these shortcomings, it is incumbent upon it to acknowledge that despite the successes it claims to have registered there are many among its rank that are morally bankrupt. Stealing exam papers or expressing misguided support for it is an immoral act which sears the conscience of the public and is extremely detrimental to the national interest. The ultimate solution to this and similar other crimes is to uphold the rule of law and reach a consensus on the concept of national consensus. It is imperative to launch a probe into the matter and put on trial the culprits.