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Revealed: Kenya a hotbed of academic cheating

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Only days after Kenya made the headlines for producing the world’s best teacher, it is in the news again, this time for the wrong reason.

It is described as a hotbed of academic dishonesty, where jobless graduates are minting millions of shillings writing thesis and term papers for students in the United Kingdom.

According to the British media, doctorate candidates pay £2,000 (Sh264,000) to £6,000 for dissertations. “Kenya is the hotbed where the writing happens. There is high unemployment and a job working from home is coveted. They have good English and low overheads,” Dr Thomas Lancaster, a senior fellow at Imperial College, London, was quoted by the British press as saying.

“There are thousands of people in Kenya whose job is to write essays for cheating students. There are several writers in every apartment block,” he added.

A motion is set to be introduced in the UK parliament to ban all forms of advertising for any assistance in academic work.

Initially, the business was done entirely through outsourcing websites run from Europe and hiring people with an ability to write academic material on a freelance basis and then floating jobs for them.

The jobs are usually academic papers given as assignments to students in Europe or the US, but are too lazy to do them. The pay is per page and can be as high as $15 (Sh1,500).

READ ALSO:   Uhuru told to keep off schools during KCSE exams

A Nation investigation on Monday found that several young people in Nairobi are engaged in the practice full-time.

In a shared office on Moi Avenue, the clicking of keyboards fuses with the noise from the street below to create the impression of an industry on a roll. The office, just a stone’s throw from the University of Nairobi, is illustrative of the booming underground industry that is helping thousands of students cheat their way to PhDs and Masters degrees.

For Sh30,000 to Sh50,000, depending on the course, one can get a research project done in two weeks to a month for work that is supposed to take an entire semester for a Masters student. And for Sh200,000, a PhD thesis can be done.

An assignment costs as little as Sh500, while a term paper sets you back about Sh2,000.

The company is just one of the dozens, if not hundreds, of such outfits spread across the country that are helping universities churn out graduates who have not met all the requirements.

Assignments and term papers contribute to the overall grade of a student. Masters and PhD students are required to undertake research project or thesis and defend it before they are cleared to graduate.

Dr Nancy Booker, the director of academic affairs at the Aga Khan University Graduate School of Mass Communication, says it is the only way for a graduate student to show that he or she has mastered a particular subject. “It shows you have mastered a discipline and you can execute a project from start to finish. It is what makes you an authority in a certain area,” she says.

READ ALSO:   Uhuru told to keep off schools during KCSE exams

However, with a simple search online or through referrals, students can get academic research papers done for them, which they present as their own without detection. Fuelled by access to cheap Internet, high unemployment rates among graduates and the commercialisation of university education, academic cheating continues to boom.

The “research writers”, as they are known, are not only helping Kenyan students cheat, but their work is being felt globally through the outsourcing websites.

source:nation.co.ke

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Health

Cancer reminded me why I wanted to live

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In 1999 a young, tall, beautiful girl made news when she became M-Net’s Face of Africa, winning the Kenyan tittle. This win was only the beginning of her modeling career. Bidanya Barassa who was the second Kenyan to win this title made a career out of something she did not intend to be.

“My mum convinced me to go to a place called Kelu Modeling School that she had heard of, and since it was after high school, she convinced me to do it because I didn’t like computer classes.

“I was admitted to the school because I was about 5’10’’ tall. They said I could be a runway model and advised that I wear high heels (three inches) because of my height, and that is how it started,” she says.

She started immediately and within a week, she was already getting modeling contracts. But despite her success in the modeling space, Bidanya never thought modeling was a career or something she could do. At least not until she got onto the runway, started traveling around the world and started making money from it.

“I always saw people on TV modeling and I wondered what they were doing. I always thought it was not a career. I started enjoying it later on. Getting (into) M-Net face of Africa was a breakthrough for me as I traveled to the Caribbean and many exotic places.

“What I loved most about it was I didn’t have to go to my mum for money because I could now buy my own stuff and books as I loved reading,” she says.

Bidanya describes herself as passionate, lover of life, family-oriented, confident, pusher, leader and “multipotentialite”.

Battle with cancer

All was going well, then in 2010 she was diagnosed with Stage Two colon cancer. What started as a stomach ache with traces of blood in her stool, ended up as cancer which she battled for about a year.

READ ALSO:   Uhuru told to keep off schools during KCSE exams

“I was diagnosed in 2010. I was having stomach aches and there was blood in my stool, so I went to hospital for tests. We did a blood test, an X-ray and an ultra sound but they didn’t see much.

“The doctor said we needed to do more tests. We did an endoscopy and a colonoscopy and that’s when they found a growth on the left of my colon,” she says.

Bidanya remembers waking up from her colonoscopy wondering what the problem was. At the doctor’s office, she was told she did not have stomach cancer but had Stage Two colon cancer. She was not surprised as she had called her mum earlier before the doctor’s visit and told her that she was certain she had colon cancer.

“Before the final diagnosis, I was driving to my office and I remember thinking everything in my life was going very well. My career was doing fine, my boyfriend was perfect at that time and I thought maybe God was leading me down this path for a reason.

“I was shocked when the doctor confirmed my fears but I was not too surprised. I didn’t go through the denial stages, probably because I had already prepared myself mentally for the news by telling myself that I had cancer.

“I booked an appointment with a surgeon on January 3, 2010 and asked what I need to do. I was booked for the surgery and I started my treatment,” remembers Bidanya.

After her surgery on January 5, 2010, she believed she was done with her treatment but was advised to start chemotherapy after recovering from the surgery.

“I started chemotherapy after two weeks. This is when I got scared and it hit me that I had cancer. I had read that at Stage Two one doesn’t need chemotherapy but the doctor advised that I do it so that we can kill the cancer cells and not have it reoccur after three years or so.

READ ALSO:   Uhuru told to keep off schools during KCSE exams

“When I talked to my mum about it, she only had one question: Do I want to die? This had me thinking about all the things I wanted to do and all the plans I had and decided to have the chemotherapy,” she says.

After eight weeks in recovery, Bidanya started her chemotherapy, which lasted eight months. She says she prayed to God and told Him about her plans, and told Him that she did not want to lose her life.

“I was afraid that I would lose my hair due to chemotherapy. My biggest fear at that time was dying. I did not want to lose my life.

“After every three weeks, I would go for the chemo treatment and I would be in bed for about five days, get back to work then go back for my treatment in another three weeks.

“It was long and hard. I was nauseated, weak, food tasted like metal and I always had to force myself to eat so that I could recover faster. It was a long journey as chemotherapy is not easy,” she says.

After her chemotherapy, Bidanya went for another colonoscopy a year later and found no sign of cancer. Two years after her diagnosis, she went to India to do a pet scan, after which she was declared cancer-free.

“I already knew deep in my heart that I was healed. There is this verse in the Bible that says we are healed by Jesus’ stripes and I believed I was healed. The first thing I did after I was healed was pray and just thank God for the gift of life. It had been a long journey,” she says.

No more modeling

As the managing director of Top Image Africa, Bidanya has no plans of getting back on the runway.

READ ALSO:   Uhuru told to keep off schools during KCSE exams

“People always ask me this but I only did this part-time. I think it has served its purpose. Modeling is tough because you are relying on someone for your looks. It’s hard. It’s basically you going for auditions and if they like your face, height, hands and smile, you’re hired for the job.

“At that time, I was in campus and my goal was to do my undergraduate and masters degrees. I remember once when I was in South Africa, I was asked what would happen to my education if I was selected to go to New York.

“I told them I would transfer my credits and continue with my studies in New York, and they thought I was crazy. My goal has always been to be in the corporate world and run a successful business, so modeling played a purpose because it gave me my confidence.

“My height was an issue for me because I’m 5’10 but now I love my height and I wear heels that are four inches. I can’t wear flat shoes anymore unless I am going to the mall or travelling,” she says.

When it comes to love, Bidanya blushes and giggles when giving hints that she is in a relationship.

“I’m dating someone, even though I won’t give you a lot of information. He is an amazing man and we met in Ivory Coast when I was there for business. That’s all I can say,” she says laughing.

The former model is currently creating awareness about cancer, giving back to society and managing a modeling company.

She has an awareness programme on living healthy and eating healthy, and encouraging women to get screened for cancer. She runs it every Wednesday on her Instagram account.

By standardmedia.com

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The after-effects of COVID-19 pandemic to cancer patients Rosa Agutu

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Corletta Mwende discovered she had a lump in her left breast in November 2019, and in January doctors confirmed it was Stage Two cancer. However, her plans to go to India for treatment were halted after all international flights were suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Since I was unable to go to India, my doctor gave me some medicine to manage the pain. However, after three months the lump had increased in size from 1.8cm to 2.7cm and also moved to my right breast,” says Mwende.

In August, Mwende’s doctor advised her to do a positron emission tomography (PET) scan that confirmed the disease had spread to her bones.

She adds, “I am now on chemotherapy. My doctor told me that I will go through treatment for two years. It was hard during the inter-county lockdown, and the report that cancer patients were vulnerable also demoralised most patients to visit health facilities. So getting treatment was quite a challenge.”

Catherine Wanjiru, a Stage Four colon cancer survivor, talks about the challenges she underwent to get permits to travel during the inter-county lockdown to assist patients who underwent colorectal cancer surgery and needed assistance on how to use colostomy bags.

READ ALSO:   Uhuru told to keep off schools during KCSE exams

A colostomy bag is used if your bowel needs to heal or part of your colon needs to be taken out following a severe disease.

During the surgery, the end of your stomach is brought through an opening in your abdomen to form a stoma, a hole where your stool will come out instead of the normal outlet. Your stoma does not have muscles to control when your stool can come out so a bag is used to collect your stool.

Colostomy bags

“After my surgery, I used the colostomy bag for two years. Then I went back to India to get training so that I could assist and sensitise colon cancer patients after realising that there was a lot of stigma around usage of the bag. I get calls from hospitals and I train nurses on what to do,” says Wanjiru.

However, Wanjiru says during the inter-county lockdown some patients were unable to get the bags and that some even died.

“Two patients died during the lockdown because they could not access the bag. I had to do something, so I went to the chief and the DO to get the permit; it was a whole process and a file full of papers. But finally, I was able to travel and assisted some of the patients,” says Wanjiru.

READ ALSO:   Uhuru told to keep off schools during KCSE exams

Wanjiru says people often feel uncomfortable when she talks about assisting patients on how to use and clean the colostomy bags.

“I always tell people poop is processed food, so there is nothing to be uncomfortable about. I always clean and show patients how to use the bags until they are confident enough to do it themselves,” says the cancer survivor.

Prisca Githuka, a breast cancer survivor and chairperson of The Cancer Survivors Association of Kenya, while addressing cancer patients and survivors at St Paul’s University Chapel yesterday during their first meeting since the first Covid-19 case was reported in the country, encouraged them to reach out for help.

“We have a WhatsApp platform and we made sure all members are active. Times are tough but we helped where we could, but sadly lost some patients during the lockdown,” says Githuka.

She adds, “The association is a psycho-social group, we call our members and sometimes have virtual meetings to encourage them as they go through their treatment.”

During the annual global week for action on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), the Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance of Kenya talked about the wave of later-stage diagnoses and dire complications following disruptions in routine people living with NCDs underwent.

The biggest was difficulty in accessing medication and treatment and postponement of appointments. For example in Mwende’s case, her earlier diagnosis indicated that she had Stage Two cancer, and a few months later the disease had progressed to Stage Four and spread to other parts of her body.

READ ALSO:   Uhuru told to keep off schools during KCSE exams

by STandardmedia.co.ke

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Here dad: Secret to being a good father

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Past child development research often ignored fathers. But new studies are finding that non-maternal caregivers play a crucial role in children’s behaviour, happiness, even cognitive skills.

Today, many dads are celebrated for being sensitive, caring and hands-on. A growing body of research is transforming our understanding of how they can shape their children’s lives from the start, challenging conventional ideas of parenthood and gender.

This is striking given that until the 1970s, the role of fathers in their children’s development was not much studied. Their most important job was seen as economically supporting the mother, who would in turn be the emotional anchor for the child.

“There was a lot of focus on how relationships with mothers were very important, and there was very little thought about other social relationships,” says Michael Lamb, a psychologist at the University of Cambridge who has been studying fathers since the 1970s. “The most obvious of those was the father-child relationship — a relationship that was viewed as more important as children grow older, but was always viewed as secondary to the mother-child relationship.”

Now, new research is showing that the social world of children is much richer, and more complex, than previously thought.

It is not just dads who have moved into the spotlight. Grandparents, same-sex parents, step-parents and single parents have also helped researchers understand what really makes a child thrive — and that it’s not just about one caregiver.

Benefits

A range of recent studies show how flexible parenting roles can be. Psychologist Ruth Feldman of Israel’s Bar-Ilan University has found that, just like mothers, fathers experience a hormonal boost when caring for their babies, which helps the bonding process. When dads are the main caregivers, their brains adapt to the task.

And emotional involvement matters. Babies with emotionally engaged dads show better mental development as toddlers and are less likely to have behavioural problems later on, compared to babies whose dads behave in a more detached way. Older children benefit, too. Those whose fathers, or father figures, are more emotionally supportive, tend to be more satisfied with life and have better relationships with teachers and other children.

READ ALSO:   Uhuru told to keep off schools during KCSE exams

“The factors that lead to the formation of relationships are exactly the same for mother and father,” Lamb says.

Past research has found that mothers and fathers do tend to interact differently with small children: mothers bond more through gentle caretaking, while fathers typically bond through play. But that, Lamb says, has less to do with gender and more with the division of childcare.

Studies of same-sex couples and stay-at-home dads have shown that regardless of gender, it is the parent who works during the day, and comes home in the evening, who tends to play wilder games, like picking up their baby and swinging them around. The parent who looks after the baby all day is likely to interact with them more calmly.

In heterosexual couples, the parent who takes on most of the care during the day is often still the mother for a range of social and economic reasons. But involving dads more from the start can have many benefits, research has shown. And play, regardless of whether it’s calm or boisterous, is particularly beneficial.

“Play is the language of childhood: it’s the way children explore the world, it’s how they build relationships with other children,” says Paul Ramchandani, who studies play in education, development and learning at the University of Cambridge. He and his team observed fathers playing with their babies in the first months of life, then tracked the children’s development. They found that early father-baby interactions are much more important than previously assumed.

READ ALSO:   Uhuru told to keep off schools during KCSE exams

Babies whose dads were more active and engaged during play had fewer behavioural difficulties at age one compared to those with more distant or detached dads. They also did better in cognitive tests at two, for example in their ability to recognise shapes. These outcomes were independent of the mother’s relationship with the child.

Ramchandani cautions that the results should not be interpreted as a clear causal link. Instead of directly affecting their children’s development, the distant dads’ behaviour could, for example, be a sign of other problems in the family. Still, he sees the study as an encouragement to play with your child long before they can crawl and talk: “Some dads don’t do that when the babies are young because they’re unsure about what they should do, or unsure if they’re doing the right things.” Of course, new mothers may feel similarly hesitant.

But Ramchandani says it can be as simple as sitting the baby on your lap, making eye contact, and observing what they enjoy.

“It’s the getting involved that’s the most important thing, because you’ll get better at it if you practice it. It’s not something that comes naturally to everybody. Some people are really good at it, but for most people it takes practice,” he says.

In many ways, fathers are more involved than ever. But the bulk of parenting still seems to fall to women. Around the world, women spend up to 10 times more time on unpaid care work – including childcare – than men.

“I think we’re at a crossroads in terms of how we view fathers,” says Anna Machin, an anthropologist and author of The Life of Dad, a book on modern fathering.

Machin argues that while most dads want to be more active at home, the workplace has not really adapted to this. “That’s where the tension is for men at the moment: between needing and wanting to care, and also needing to still provide,” she says.

READ ALSO:   Uhuru told to keep off schools during KCSE exams

Reversal of roles

Given the financial pressures many families face, Machin fears there could actually be a reversal to more traditional roles: “If you’re a dad now, if you want to be involved, you have to be a bit of a pioneer in the workplace. You have to go against all that culture of, ‘men go back to work’. You have to be the one to go, ‘Actually, I want to assert my rights’.

“And that’s quite a hard thing to do.”

A more equal division can have many long-term benefits. Researchers led by sociologists Helen Norman and Colette Fagan at the University of Manchester found that fathers were more likely to be involved when the child was aged three if they shared childcare equally when the child was nine months old.

In Scotland, a study of more than 2,500 families showed that supportive father-child relationships matter as much as mother-child relationships for children’s wellbeing.

“One of the points we’ve learned is that there isn’t a model of the ideal father. There isn’t a recipe for what the father needs to do or what sorts of behaviour he needs to emulate,” says Lamb. Ultimately, he says, it’s about being emotionally available, and meeting the child’s needs. “Different people do that in different ways. There’s been a lot of talk about, ‘do dads need to do that in a masculine way?’ And the answer is no, they don’t need to.

“They need to do it in a way that makes sense for them, that feels authentic, that allows them to be fully and coherently engaged in the relationship with their child.”

by Standardmedia.co.ke

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