December 10, 2022

Academic dishonesty is a widespread problem in schools and universities worldwide. It is defined as “any type of cheating that occurs concerning formal academic exercises that can include plagiarism, fabrication, deception, cheating, or sabotage.” It can occur in various academic settings and is widely regarded as an immoral act that violates and reduces academic integrity in education.
Thus, it is strongly discouraged since it degrades the quality of educational institutions, obstructs education’s essential purpose, which is to transfer knowledge, and can destroy students’ morale.
However, with the implementation of the distance learning system in the Philippines as a way to continue education despite the limitations that the Covid-19 has brought to us, reports of academic dishonesty or cheating in the country were discovered. Since teachers cannot observe students due to the remote learning setup, they are more likely to engage in dishonest behaviors such as cheating, plagiarizing, paying someone else to do requirements, and more. This was according to the news report about a Facebook group named “Online Kopyahan” with more than 600,000 members where the majority of the information shared in the said group was students’ answers to modules, notes on various topics, and answer keys included in the learning materials they received. There are also articles from Rappler revealing some students paying others to do their homework.
The issue about whether or not students are genuinely learning in a remote learning setting is concerning. The integrity of education is being affected. But why do students engage in academic dishonesty, especially at this time when distance learning is implemented?
As a student, I face many difficulties and challenges in this new learning method. With the new learning environment that we students are in right now, it is hard to cope and adjust since there are a lot of distractions and limitations, which makes it hard for us to focus on studying. Some students are just too lazy to do their requirements, resulting in plagiarized work, cheating, and paying other people to do their schoolwork; while some cheat in an attempt to obtain a higher grade. Students are under pressure and desperate to earn good grades, even if that means they will be dishonest with their work.
I understand the pressure that most students feel to obtain a high level of achievement in their school, but this does not justify engaging in dishonest behaviors. I feel very disappointed when I hear about cases of academic dishonesty in our school, especially among my classmates because it is unfair that some students are really trying their best to complete requirements and learn while others are just benefiting from the work of others without any hard work and effort.
No matter how desperate we are to finish our schoolwork or to achieve high grades, we must not lower ourselves and be dishonest in our learning journey. We are not fooling others; we are fooling ourselves.
Academic dishonesty is widespread and has been going on for a long time, making it impossible to stop, but it doesn’t mean that we should just let it happen. We, students, must make a stand that academic dishonesty should not be tolerated.
How can we then prevent academic dishonesty? I suggest that schools and universities hold seminars, programs, and school events at least every school year to discuss academic integrity among students. They should guide students, teach them the disadvantages of dishonest academic behaviors and how it can affect the essence of learning.
Schools should devise strategies that emphasize student leadership, such as organizing committees and becoming involved in the disciplinary process, or educating students about academic dishonesty.
Academic dishonesty rules and policies and an outline of the steps that can be taken when a student is accused of academic misconduct should also be published and emphasized in school handbooks to ensure students are fully aware of its consequences in their work. An honor code system through which students certify and are held accountable for their work should be implemented.
Academic dishonesty should never be allowed or justified and society should reject it. This is a significant issue that the educational system must address, and we must act immediately. (ARIANA ISABELA L. MAGNO)