According to an article by Standard Media Group Reporter,Allan Mungai, appearing in the Standard Newspaper of Wednesday, 21st September 2016, 3 DeKUT Students had sued DeKUT after they were suspended for an academic year each after they were allegedly caught cheating in examinations.
A committee that had been set up to look into the examination malpractices allegations rendered a guilty verdict on Simon Ombollo,a sophomore Mechatronic Engineering Student,Isaack Hussein and Wycliffe Agutu.They were consequently,immediately suspended for an academic year beginning May 2016.It therefore means that they would report in January 2017.
The University’s Registrar of Academic Affairs in her sworn affidavit said that they students were caught with condensed notes (“Mwakenya” in our Slang) in the examination room,which were of interest to the examination they were taking,which would have given them unfair advantage over students.
Section 3.3 A (v) of The Dedan Kimathi University Of Technology Students Rules and Regulations on Academic Conduct expressly states v)All students shall apply themselves diligently to the courses of study approved by the Senate and for which they are registered and, in particular shall: not engage in plagiarism, cheating or any other academic irregularity which may undermine the academic standing of the University;In case of any academic irregularities, the same shall be referred to the Senate through the Deans Committee for appropriate action.
Section 6 highlights matters on the discipline of students.Under Section 6.2 (ii)(m)involvement in cheating in academic matters, examination leakages or impersonation in University examinations is acknowledged as a disciplinary offence.
Under Section 6.3.1 on Displinary Procedure on Academic Matters,The decision of the DeKUT Senate Board of Examiners is binding subject only to appeal for review on the basis of fresh evidence to the Chairperson of the University Senate.
In Section 6.5.6 (iv) The Students Disciplinary Committee shall have power to suspend the student from the University for a specific period depending on the nature and gravity of the offences
committed and the evidence called in support thereof.
In Section 6.6.8,In arriving at an appropriate penalty, acknowledging the sovereignty of the State, together with the State security machinery it shall safeguard that sovereignty embraced by the entire Republic, within which the University falls. Accordingly, the provisions of these regulations and any decisions made by the disciplinary Committee and the University shall not derogate and/or be construed as derogating from the right of the Police or any member of the public so entitled, to bring any action or to institute criminal proceedings in respect of the same set of facts against any student in a Court of Law, nor shall anything herein preclude the State from taking any action which it may deem necessary against any student in the interest of security and public order.
In Section 6.6.8 (iv) Students have the right to appeal to the Vice Chancellor against the decision
of the Disciplinary Committee if he considers himself aggrieved by the said decision and such appeals will be made in writing within fourteen (14) days ofthe date of communication of the Committee’s decision.
In Section 6.3.4 (iv) The Committee shall hold an enquiry but shall not be required to adhere to
the rules of evidence or procedures as applied in a Court of Law. However, the Committee shall ensure that both sides are heard and that persons required to be witnesses do not sit as members of the Committee.
Every Student on Admission Day appended their signature to commit and abide by the above students rules and regulations.If my 3 friends who faced disciplinary action had read through these clauses with keenness,they wouldn’t have instituted legal action against the University.I wish they had paid a courtesy call to the University’s Legal Officer to get acquainted with what they were getting themselves into before suing the University.
However,all is not lost.
In 2014,Justice Weldon Korir of the Nairobi High Court, in quashing a decision by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture And Technology (JKUAT) to expel an engineering student found guilty of exam malpractice in 2013 noted:
“I am alive to the fact that cheating in examinations is a serious indiscretion which should be discouraged. On the other hand, universities should learn to temper justice with mercy. It would be advisable to give the least severe sentence to first offenders,”
He ordered the University’s examination disciplinary committee to hold fresh hearing within 60 days. The university had accused Peter Kungu Muraya of having unauthorised material inside the exam room and leaving the exam room with the answer booklet on April 22, 2013 in contravention with university exam regulations. Muraya told the court after long holiday he received all his examination results signed by Faculty Dean Deputy Registry examination including Physics Code 2171, the unit in which the alleged malpractice had occurred. He further told the court that on November 12, 2013, he received a letter from the University informing him that his entire results had been cancelled and further expelled from the University.
He added that his appeal against the university’s drastic actions was dismissed forcing him to move to court to seek review. He argued before the court that the university erred in cancelling all his examination results while he had committed the irregularity in one unit. However, the university in its response through Prof. Romanus Odhiambo, the Deputy Vice- Chancellor Academic Affairs, told the court that Muraya was duly informed of the charges before the disciplinary proceedings and was given an opportunity to appeal the decision by disciplinary committee.
The judge noted that the university had not accorded Muraya fair administrative action though the university followed the laid down disciplinary process.
The legal gods could be on their side if there above precedent is anything to go by.However,the axe of justice could fall on them.
Our education system has become so perverted that our academic success is heavily reliant on cheating.Is there a point to fighting the trend and doing something to make cheating be the unacceptable exception, rather than the norm?