Sierra Leone investigates varsity exams malpractice

Sierra Leonean authorities have mounted an investigation into alleged examination malpractice in one of the country’s most prominent universities – Njala.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the police were investigating the allegations which include conferment of fake degrees illegal admission of students and promotion of ghost teachers.

Several arrests have reportedly been effected since June 12 when the investigations started.

Njala, situated in the south with campuses in other regions, is one of Sierra Leone's top universities, known particularly for the sciences. It has a student population of about 10,000.

The death

Sources say all of the institution’s students have been requested to submit their school-leaving [West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Exams (WASSCE)] results as part of efforts to authenticate their admission requirements.

The investigation coincides with a lecturers' strike over working conditions.

Njala was the subject of a nationwide strike by students in March leading to the death of a student and several arrests and prosecutions. Those protests were sparked by a prolonged lecturers’ strike over similar grievances of pay and working condition.

Sierra Leone has been battling an epidemic of examination malpractice which education and human resource experts have warned bodes dangerously for the country’s future.

The arrest

News about the investigation on Njala comes less than a week after reports of the arrest of three teachers serving as examiners for the regional examination body – WAEC.

A sting operation by officials from ACC on a compound in the east end of Freetown led to the arrest of the teachers alongside several students. The students were alleged to be sitting for the West African Senior Secondary Certificate papers which had been conducted about two months earlier.

The ACC officials also confiscated a ‘huge pile’ of examination papers from the scene.

Petty corruption

That incident followed another one involving several people, including a lecturer at the University of Sierra Leone, who were allegedly caught cheating on a law exam.

ACC boss Ade Macauley said the Commission was currently investigating malpractice involving different institutions and examination bodies.

“When a teacher takes money from pupils for exams malpractice it is petty corruption, and it is petty corruption with a devastating effect on the country,” he lamented.

“If the human resource of this country won’t be able to take the country further due to poor skills created by this kind of practice, then we are doomed.”

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