The room is so quiet save for the noise from the flipping of papers. Examination fever has engulfed the entire room. All eyes are fixed on the movements of the supervisor and the invigilator. The other sound piercing through this stillness is the ticking of the wall clock placed above the chalkboard.
Amidst the distribution of question and answer sheets, almost every candidate is seen slightly bowing their heads down, no doubt, reciting prayers to God and seeking blessings to pass the examinations.
“Each and every candidate walks into the examination room hoping for success. In fact, this is what drives candidates to use all available means whether legal or illegal to achieve their exam dreams. However, the latter leads to disqualification, thereby spoiling one’s future,” explains Don Chauma, a Form 4 student at Limbe Community Day Secondary School in Blantyre.
Chauma quotes John 17 verse 1 which says, “After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: ‘Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you”.
“Even Jesus knew the importance and power of prayer. I always pray before taking every exam since my primary school days. I do this in quest of wisdom from God to help me recall whatever examinable academic materials I have studied prior to exams. But a candidate who does not study cannot pass exams even if he or she prays,” adds Chauma, a staunch Presbyterian.
The prospective Malawi School Certificate of Education examination candidate further says prayer also helps to exorcise evil spirits during exams.
“The devil is a liar and he cannot surpass God, the creator. A lot of stories have been told about mysterious things that happen during exams. Some reports indicate that some candidates have shed incessant tears during examinations to the point of seeing nothing on the question paper. Other reports say some candidates just see pitch black on question papers,” explains Chauma.
Asked about what he would do if he fails exam, Chauma says: “I would simply praise and thank God, Almighty for giving me the opportunity of sitting for exams and life goes on.”
He cements his stand by citing Hebrews 13 verse 15 which says,` Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise the fruit of lips that confess his name.”
A former Polytechnic student who asked for anonymity disagrees with the notion of praying in exams.
“God does not answer exams prayers. Praying and passing exams are two different things. A student should work hard by studying to pass exams. This should be done before exams.
“Students who do not study and later on pray in exam room cannot pass. Even God wants students to study hard because success does not come on a silver platter. If God wanted, He could just have dropped certificates and degrees for us without studying hard for them. But He made us to sweat for these academic qualifications. I have seen people who spent all their time on prayers, only to fail exams and I have also seen people who hardly pray, pass the exams,” argues the former Unima student
Though he holds such views, he concedes the importance of prayers in students’ lives.
“In general, prayers are good and students should pray for good health during exams so that they should not fall sick during exams. I know students who fell sick during exams and were forced to sit for deferred exams. My stand remains unchanged; pray for good health and not success in exams,” he says.
However Pastor Luckson Sosten Nangoma of Bible Faith Ministries of Chiwembe in Blantyre agrees with the views that candidates should pray before taking exams.
“Yes people should pray tirelessly all the time. This includes candidates because prayers put man closer to God.” says Nangoma.
He says: “The Bible, in Matthews 7 verse 7 says,’ Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you; hence, candidates should pray during their studies, during exams and even after exams to seek God’s intervention,” he explains.
The pastor further quotes John 14 verse13-14 which says, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.”
“Candidates should wholeheartedly ask their wants in Jesus’ name at all times and they shall be given,” explains Nangoma.
He further adds that Jeremiah 33 verse 3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
Asked if candidates have to thank God despite failing in examinations, he quotes 1 Thessalonians 5 verse 18 which says, Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
“Yes, students should thank God for giving them the opportunity to sit for examinations and further ask for guidance when repeating. It is just the same with what parents do when their siblings fail exams. Children are compelled to repeat classes with hope that they will do well in their next attempt,” Nangoma clarifies.
Nangoma adds, “Hebrews 13 verse 6 says, ‘So we say with confidence, the Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
“Students should not be hopeless or demoralised if they fail exams because in God there is success and Satan is the one who makes people fail in life.” explains Nangoma. n