Politics of public examinations in Africa
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Public (external) examinations have played a major role throughout the history of modern education in Africa. They serve a number of functions, the most important of which is to select students for limited places in successive levels in the education system. Public examinations also serve an accountability function for teachers and schools. Despite their central role, many criticisms have been made of their quality and their use. While education policies especially in Africa are intended to allocate scarce educational benefits in an objective and an unbiased way, concerns have sometimes been expressed that they discriminate against some communities, rural populations, girls and students whose first language differs from that of the examination. In order to address these issues most of the examination bodies or councils resort to a number of manipulations of the examination marks in the name of adjustment, standardization, moderation, compensation or quotas. This paper will examine a myriad of issues related to manipulation of national examination results and argue instead for improvement of the quality of the public examinations and appropriate use of examination results.