At my workplace Ashesi University we aim to educate the future leaders for Africa.Part of that goal is worked on through discussing ethics with the students and practising it on campus.
After much debate, it was decided that students should themselves take responsibility for fair procedure and take exams without proctoring lecturers. Instead, they monitor each other and sign a slip to certify that no violations of the rules have taken place. Or they do not sign and are invited for a meeting to discuss what they have seen or heard and the case is taken before the Ashesi Judicial Committee. This also means all our students are well aware on our policies on academic misconduct. This is the Honour System. Similar systems are practiced at other higher education institutions notably Princeton University and Dartmouth College.
However, not everybody thinks this is a good idea. The National Accreditation Board of Ghana (NAB) recently gave us the directive of suspending the Honour System, read more about it here. It seems that the main objection towards the system is the Ghanaian environment.
The Senior Assistant Secretary at the NAB Richard Agyei told Joy News that he thinks the Ashesi Honour System is
“market copying of what happens in other systems without taking into consideration what your own circumstances are.”
You can listen to the interview on Joy FM here .
Yesterday, we decided to go public with the decision to respectfully question their deciscion. From the press statement here is the appeal to the NAB and the general public:
“We believe that the National Accreditation Board’s decision regarding Ashesi’s Honour System was hasty and was made with insufficient discussion and debate. We ask the National Accreditation Board to listen to the wisdom of our arguments and our logic. We ask the National Accreditation Board to heed the counsel of our forbearers and to remember the proverb: “the one who climbs a good tree must be given a helping hand.” We ask the National Accreditation Board to remember the national anthem of this Republic, which urges each of us to “cherish fearless honesty.”
We also come before the public to ask for support. We ask corporations who have hired Ashesi students, and who appreciate the calibre of the Ashesi Education, to help us make our case to the NAB and to the public. Finally, we ask academics around the world who are familiar with Honour Systems, to share their views with the National Accreditation Board of Ghana.
For our part, we humbly declare by unanimous consent of the Ashesi Student Council, the faculty, the administration, and the Executive Committee, that we are committed to maintaining Ashesi’s Honour System for the conduct of exams. We have the full support of the student body, the Alumni Council, and parents. Whatever the eventual outcome of this debate, let it be said that, “Here are women and men who stand for what is right; who honour the ideals of this Republic; and who believe in a brighter future for Africa”.
You can read the press statement from Ashesi University in full here.
Former Ashesi students Sugar n Spice write:
“The whole idea is simple, write your examination independently, and make sure you reference your work (do it right and you’re safe). Personally, I wrote exams in both situations (with and without proctors) and it feels much more better when you’re left alone without having one or two people walking around the room making you feel much more tensed. Every student is ‘policing’ the other, you don’t know who’s watching you and might not sign the honour sheet after exam.
It’s such a nice feeling when you’re trusted.”
Read their full piece on the Honor System here.
Is Ghana and its “circumstances” so different from other parts of the world that Ghanaian university students can not learn ethics the same way as students in other countries?
What do you think?