Price of a pass is child abuse

16th April 2004 at 01:00
Teachers in Malawi who mark exams regularly offer to pass girls in return for sex.

One student wrote on the top of her paper: "I am a very beautiful girl. If you pass me in this exam, here is my cellphone number. Please consider this request."

Elspeth Mackay, a Scottish primary teacher trainer, this week in The TES Scotland reveals the extent of "almost institutionalised sexual abuse of girls in schools".

One primary head is alleged to have offered several of his female pupils to external invigilators in an attempt to improve pass rates.

Ms Mackay, who is working through Voluntary Services Overseas at one of Malawi's six teacher training colleges, reports that students routinely offer themselves to unscrupulous teachers as a means of making the grade.

The contrast with Scotland is sharp. Around 9,000 Scottish teachers are preparing to mark thousands of exam papers over the next two months under strict guidelines set by the Scottish Qualifications Authority. They will look askance at the opportunity for corrupt practices in the southern African nation.

Teachers and invigilators are regularly bribed and cheating is endemic, Ms Mackay says.

Feature 14

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