Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Examination Hall – Irking moments

Finally, I would briefly touch on some irking moments in the examination hall. The Oxford English and the Merriam-Webster’s dictionaries both describe an invigilator as an individual who supervises students/candidates in an examination. Students have however turned invigilators into ‘errand boys/girls’.
As a general rule, you (as a student) are supposed to enter the examination hall with all needed materials: pen, pencil, erasers, sharpener, ruler, calculator, ID cards and what have you. More often than not, you find students calling the attention of the invigilator to collect one item or the other from a colleague of theirs.
You also have individuals who would like to visit the washroom countless number of times! They are generally not allowed though, but it is annoying.
Others write on question papers, when they have been instructed not to do so.
Sometimes you have students just getting up from their seats – without any prompting from an invigilator – and walking out of the examination hall – to urinate! Argh!
Another irking moment is when the invigilator is ready to distribute answer booklets/question papers for the examination to begin, only to find students now busily skimming through their notes and discussing ‘possible’ questions.
Other times, students tend to fidget and talk amongst themselves in the presence of an invigilator even though he/she has cautioned them not to. Why do we as students test the paws of invigilators? It beats my mind.
Another irking scenario – an announcement has been made, probably to correct the mistake in a question, or even an instruction. Moments later, a student asks the invigilator what announcement was made or even a question pertaining to the correction that has already been rectified. Very disheartening.
Let us as students, follow examination rules and regulations and stop annoying and frustrating invigilators.

The Examination Hall – Modus operandi?

Remember I already spoke of the intimidating nature of the examination hall? Well, the presence of invigilators adds to the ‘misery’ of students.
However, some students overcome their fear and write their papers in peace – positively – or negatively.
Positively because, they take their time to read over instructions and questions carefully, understand what is required of them, and confidently answer the questions being posed.
The negative factor is when some students try (and often succeed) outwitting invigilators – by cheating.
A critical point to note here is that all sin is sin, no matter the gravity assigned to it by society.
What therefore is the modus operandi (mode of operation) of such deviants in the examination hall? These include, but not limited to:

  •  The bringing of foreign materials into the examination hall. They prepare ‘small notes’ (a.k.a ‘ginger’) on pieces of papers, handkerchiefs, pencil erasers, their skin (thighs, palms), calculators. I wonder why an individual would spend hours preparing such notes and not learn. It’s silly.
  •  The holding of scripts at angles that permit friends to steal glances and copy from them
  •  The hiding of notes in washrooms and visiting them under the pretence of going to urinate
  •  The swapping of question sheets on which answers have been written
  • Whispering to one another
  • The soliciting of help from invigilators : asking for the spelling of a word, seeking the explanation of a question et cetera
Other means are employed by such ‘cheating’ students who have no shame.
I personally believe that appealing to the conscience of individuals is one way to go about this problem other than the vindictive and forceful approach that is being applied.
Authorities should bear in mind that, if you treat an individual as a child, he/she behaves and thinks like one. Respect students and you are sure to get it back. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Examination Hall – Distractions

Pens communicate with paper vigorously as students write answers to the questions that have been posed by their instructors. Some frantically chew on their pen covers/tops, others fidget ceaselessly. Some stare into the ceiling and some still look for opportunities to have a glance at what their supposed ‘Messiahs’ – sitting by them – have written.
The tension in the examination hall is very great.
Amidst all these, there are other factors at play that make it difficult for the student to fully concentrate. These factors include (but not limited to):
-          Intermittent announcement of the time left on the clock by invigilators

  •           A lady’s beads/thong provocatively signaling one’s eyes for attention (applies to guys)
  •           The thighs of a lady shooting out of her skimpy skirt
  •           Invigilators dragging their feet as they move about (not forgetting the noise made by their shoes)
  •           Some students whistling for attention from friends
  •           Sometimes, some students (girls especially) are distracted by the dresses, hairstyles, nail polishes being worn by their friends
  •           Some students ‘admire’ or even ‘have crushes’ on some invigilators and therefore spend quite an amount of time watching them as they move about the examination hall.
As can be rightly observed, distractions during examinations are essential to the study of human behaviour and how effective people are, under pressure.

The Examination Hall – Setting

So you have been able to learn all you are supposed to before taking the examination. At certain times in your studies, you even doubt your notes and have to confer with friends. It is a normal feeling. You wonder if really what you are studying is even relevant or not. Your adrenaline level fluctuates.
Then it is time to take the examination. Good Heavens! You suddenly turn to God for strength, and prayer becomes the order of the day. If you don’t know how to pray, the sign of the cross is enough. I can only imagine God sitting calmly on His throne and smiling at us – earthlings!
You enter the examination hall and the arrangement is intimidating, not forgetting the thorough search you are subjected to. The desks are three feet apart on all sides. You see invigilators with bloodshot eyes; with hawk-like demeanours, ready to pounce on any chick (student) who goes astray – by not following orders, and more importantly -- cheating. Of course you can’t blame them, when some students, no matter what, are hell-bent on cheating – even if the examination demands them writing the 25 alphabets of the English Language! Absurd!
In our day, we had our index numbers already placed on the desks and so you had to walk to yours quietly and sit down. You and your course mates occupied one entire row. The next row was occupied by another class, and so a row sits in-between you and your mates.  You are not even allowed to rotate your neck to an angle of 45 degrees!
You enter the hall sometimes and you feel like a condemned soul who’s just there to redeem him/herself from bondage.
You get seated and the examinations begin in earnest.
Good luck to us all!

The Examination Hall -- Examinations?

Examination as defined by the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary is an exercise designed to examine progress or test qualification or knowledge.
The Oxford English dictionary defines it as a formal test of knowledge or ability in a subject or skill.
However, it a word most students – if not all – dread to hear. It sends shivers down the spine of some, others just want to take it and get it over and done with, while still others wish they have alternatives to choose from, other than taking the examinations.  I remember a friend who once suggested that, instead of every student writing examinations, a system could be put in place where students are billed for examinations, without actually writing it. I wonder if that is ever feasible in any institution.
If you ask me, I’d say it all comes down to one thing – your perception of examinations.  That influences your approach to this exercise.
Our educational system is such that, students have been, and are being brought up to believe that passing examinations is the surest way to make it in life – as if you life depended on it! Society therefore tags those who get good grades as being intelligent and the unfortunate ones as dullards.
No wonder a lot of examination malpractices go on these days. Who’s to blame?
Personally, I see examinations as platforms to see if students really got the concepts of what they have been taught in class. It’s a form of feedback. Once, as students, we begin to see exams a as a feedback mechanism, other than the perceived punishment, we should be fine.

Please share your views by commenting on this post. Thanks

You may also be interesting in the following articles:
The Examination Hall – Setting
The Examination Hall – Distractions
The Examination Hall – Modus operandi?
The Examination Hall – Irking moments

Monday, November 8, 2010

Library time

            "Our children are no longer having a good command of the English language", "The spate of 'pidgin-English' among the youth is now alarming", "Young Ghanaians these days don't read books" -- these are some comments you hear people pass nowadays.
            Yes, it is true, but what/who is to be blamed for this development; what steps are being taken to remedy the situation?
            We have individuals blaming the Internet (which is quite ridiculous). Others blame mobile technology (i.e. Short Messaging System [SMS]).
             Personally, I believe it has to do with the fact that young people don't read extensively anymore. I don't recommend reading just as an act, but reading very informative, resource-enriched books/articles.
            This brings to mind my Junior high School days in 'saito' (a local government-funded school). Every week, we had 40 minutes of class time, dedicated to what was termed 'library time'. It was a time for the class to read any book at all. We had boxes full of books in the head-teacher's office -- arranged according to the various classes. It was a cherishable moment. Some of us even went further to discuss our books with others.
            Of course, back then we didn't know we were building our vocabulary. We thought we were reading for the fun of it (not forgetting the colourful pictures in the books). Truth, however, is that it did a lot to improve not just our vocabulary in terms of writing, but also in speaking the English language.
             I advocate strongly that this item in our time-tables (for schools), is brought back and sustained.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Politics of traffic & street lights?

        So I have been living in the Sunyani Municipality (of Ghana's Brong-Ahafo Region) for the past 6 years -- and counting. It is a lovely town I must confess, well-planned and a far cry from the country's capital, Accra, in terms of congestion. The region is known as the 'breadbasket of Ghana'.
        One would have thought that the first-class streets, adorned with streetlights and traffic lights, would not just serve as monuments -- as the case is now. More often than not, these streetlights fail to function, and they can be off for over a fortnight with no one (especially the metropolitan assembly) attending to them. You only see the streetlights working again after a lot of 'noise' has been made on the FM Stations.
        Quite recently, we began having traffic wardens (police) directing traffic whenever the traffic lights go off -- which is commendable -- but doesn't solve the problem.
        However, an incident I saw a couple of days ago worried me greatly.
        It was about eight minutes to six in the evening and the traffic was really heavy. Drivers were tooting their horns at one another -- in short, it was chaotic. I wondered where the warden was (as were the other passengers), only to see him at a distance -- on phone! His countenance was one of an individual oblivious to his immediate surroundings.
       But he is not to blamed entirely. What are our leaders doing about such mishaps in our communities? Next to nothing, if you ask me. They spend copious amounts of time on the airwaves talking politics! Discussing issues that are so trivial (sometimes) that, they need not over-hype them.
      Someone calls another a palm-wine tapper -- and so what?
      Another calls his opponent 'kokoase kurasini' (a villager from a cocoa-farming community) -- and so what?
We really need to up our game and stop this 'disgusting' approach to addressing societal issues.
Drivers doing their own thing -- Chaos!
Find your own way?