By PETER WARI
EDUCATION officials have sacked nine teachers, and imposed other disciplinary measures on three others including a headmaster, for allegedly helping students cheat during a grade 10 national examinations.
Western Highlands provincial education board chairman Lawrence Pena and the Teaching Service Commission adviser for the highlands region Basil Murian yesterday announced the disciplinary action taken on the 12 teachers at a school in the province, saying it was the worst case yet in the province of teachers exhibiting a lack of professionalism and discipline.
They said in a joint statement that some of the teachers, including the headmaster and his deputy, had been teaching for between 15 and 20 years. The incident happened during the 2019 national examination.
“An inquiry (in 2020) subsequently exposed a coordinated act where the teachers provided students with answers while they were supervising the examinations,” he said.
“Many of the teachers later admitted being involved one way or another when they were called to defend themselves before the provincial education board disciplinary committee.
“The revelation stunned education authorities as the nature and scale of the offence were serious and unprecedented.
“It disrupted the education of the students affected.”
Murian said they had to deal with the matter administratively as employers of the teachers. When asked why they did not report it to the police, Murian said “none of the criminal codes (can) prosecute teachers assisting students to cheat in examinations”.
The school is located outside Mt Hagen.
The deputy headmaster and eight other teachers were dismissed.
The headmaster and two others were found guilty of lesser offences.
Their punishment is the removal of their salary increments.
All were notified early this month. Pena said they exposed the scandal after weeks of investigation by education authorities interviewing students and teachers.
Murian said it was the first time he had come across such a case in the Highlands provinces.
He only knew of teachers being sacked for sex-related offences.
He said as a deterrent, the provincial education board recommended to the commission as the employer of the teachers to impose the maximum penalty.
“The students were innocent and were told to repeat grade 10 in 2020 and went through the selection process to continue to grade 11 this year,” he said.
“There had been complaints of loopholes in the education system in the Highlands provinces due to such practices and the tough penalties should be the red signal against the repeat of the same in future.”
Meanwhile, three other teachers were removed from the same school after it was discovered they did not have proper teaching certificates.
By PETER WARI