By Zineb Sbai El Idriss
By Zineb Sbai El Idriss
Rabat – It was a hot afternoon in June. The high school I frequented was more animated than ever. I still cannot figure out the nature of my feelings when I reached the classroom. I didn’t know most of the students there. But this was understandable as we were taking baccalaureate exams. The atmosphere in the room made me dizzy, so I hurried toward the table to which I was assigned. While I sat quietly waiting for the teachers to come, different voices were floating all around me. Effortlessly, I began to discern what was said by some: “The woman is such a nice teacher. She will allow us to ‘copy’ (cheat), I am sure!”
This sort of saying bothered me a lot, especially since I recalled how during the morning, we heard some shouting in the classroom next door. It was an angry student. He got indignant because the teacher prevented him from ‘copying’ and took the proof of his cheating. I remembered too that I needed to Xerox some papers, and when the photocopy agent asked me: “Do you need them minimized too?” I felt insulted! Students during that period were more concerned about cheating than the exams themselves.
I would be a liar if I told you I have never cheated in my life. I surely did, but in rare occasions. However, at that time I made my mind to never ever do that again, as well as to defend firmly my new conviction.
As I was waiting, the girl in front of me turned around and we exchanged some words for our first time. “You’ve left very early this morning! Had you waited a little bit, you could manage to ‘copy’. The game was unleashed at the end” she uttered.
I answered honestly that I was hopeless in physics. And as numbers and formulas were total gobbledygook to me, I could just fill the questions that needed words as answers. I also added: “But why would I cheat? If I am not good enough and do not deserve to pass, then I shall repeat the year, right?” Never in my life have I been looked at in such a manner. Not only the girl was shocked, but it seemed like she was trying hard to make sense of what I said. She stayed with her mouth open for few seconds before she asked me to whisper to her the answers of the English exam.
During that same day, when we were taking the English exam, I saw a classmate of mine kissing the professor’s hand, begging forgiveness in a pitiful way as he caught him cheating. I also heard from my friends, about parents hiring professors to communicate the right answers to the former’s sons and daughters.
For so long I have tried to be compassionate and find excuses for this tradition of ‘copying’. I thought that, maybe when my uncle used to explain mathematics to me using funny tricks and everyday life examples, I was fortunate because there were children completely abandoned to themselves. I said to myself perhaps when my father used to help me with my readings while I was resting my head on his chest, other children would have been suffering at the hands of an abusive alcoholic father. I thought that when I used to recite the same lesson for the third time with my mother listening to me patiently, there were other children whose parents were illiterate. I’ve contemplated many scenarios and tried to put myself in the shoes of their protagonists, and yet this didn’t convince my heart and mind to accept that germ of cheating!
It is indeed a dangerous germ. Cheating in exams has become almost a right that students and scholars have to be granted. Unfortunately, even the term ‘copying’ used in our Moroccan dialect, is too soft to convey the real nature of this act: CHEATING!
To justify their behaviors, ‘copiers’ always bring out their very famous sayings: “I am obliged to,” “Everyone cheats, so why not me?” or “A corrupt government asks its people not to cheat. Of course I am going to do so!” Everything is blamed on the government, and no one decides to take his own responsibilities. The phenomenon has been spreading with phenomenal speed. Now it has become a right! Yes, a right Now it’s a right that students obtain using force or supplications if it is not given willingly.
Remember the parent that used to teach their children: “whoever cheats us is not one of us”? Now they are an endangered species. I personally know parents who help prepare the ‘cheating material’ for their children. I have heard of parents cursing professors who prevent their progeny from their right to ‘copy.’
And the professors who are represented in our culture as prophets? They too, have become accustomed to this new tradition. Some let their students cheat because they fear being harmed or they fear aggression if they ever resist. Some let their students cheat because they pity their begging and supplications. Some trade their souls for money and become the cheating material of the students. And some have just given up and surrendered to the dominating trend.
The Moroccan educational system will become worthless if no one wants to take responsibility and struggle for the sake of putting an end to this fiasco. The struggle is, to some extent, hard but generates a huge self-satisfaction, for I have been leading the battle four years now. I have had to stand being seen like the selfish girl who wants good marks for herself only. Then I had to swear to my angry friends that, if I didn’t give them the answers during the tests it was because of my principles, and if I could I would have helped them with no hesitation. And I have been trying to reconcile not being able to help them cheat by offering my help for a revision before the exam. I remember also giving a presentation about the subject. A presentation that has only gained the interest of the professor!
Then I had to communicate this value to the coming generation. So I have begun with my little sister. I’ve been trying to raise in her the pride of been a righteous little girl. Therefore, I have been singing her eulogies and praising her in her presence, telling people that she is smart enough to get good marks without cheating. And on the other hand, I haven’t hesitated to remind her that if she does cheat one day, she would disgrace our family and won’t be worthy of being one of us. I knew that depriving someone from the sense of belonging could be a punishment too. And at the end, with God’s help this mission was a total success!
It is true that the Moroccan society is deeply suffering from all sorts of corruption, but the case might not be hopeless. As the society is a set of individuals, if each one of the latter makes efforts to progress, Morocco just like any other country, will be able to celebrate a true spring, because only individual contributions make the power of a nation.
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