One of the objectives of education in Nigeria is to prepare the young ones to face future challenges and develop them to meet the nationâ€™s manpower requirements.
Schools need to conduct examinations as yardstick for assessment.
Examination is a formal test of somebodyâ€™s knowledge or ability in a particular subject, especially by means of answering questions or practical exercises. It is also seen as the process through which students are evaluated or tested to find out the quality of knowledge they have acquired within a specified period.
Examinations could be internal or external. It could be oral, written or both. Examples of internal examinations are Continuous Assessment Scores (CAS), terminal, semester and annual or promotion examination. Examples of external (public) examinations common in Nigerian schools are Common Entrance Examination for admission into secondary schools, school certificate examination are conducted by West African Examination Councils (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO).
The Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and National Teachers Istitute (NTI), National Business and Technical Examination Board (NABTEB) conduct professional examinations for teachers and technicians respectively.
Nigeriaâ€™s education system like any other country has its problems, lapses, controversies and issues. Many problems confront Nigeria educational system and institutions. Prominent among them is the issue of examination malpractice.
Public campaigns and enlightenment programmes embarked on by government and non-government organizations on the need for elimination of examination malpractice have not yielded the desired results, not even the introduction of jail terms for culprits.
Examination malpractice is a kind of conduct that violates the acceptable laid down rules and regulations of Nigerian institutions. On the other hand, examination malpractice is any wrong doing before, during or after any examination. Although this problem has been there long ago, the current trend is alarming and calls for urgent and pragmatic solutions to save the nationâ€™s most important sector.
Whereas, in the past, students tended to hide the acts, now, they advertise them with reckless abandon.
From the history, examination malpractice was traced back to 1914. In the University of Maiduguri, at least 25% of the students interviewed admitted to have engaged in one form of examination malpractice or another. Examination malpractice occurs in both internal and external examinations.
Examination malpractice in Nigeria has attained a frightening proportion and it has been institutionalized. Government and stakeholders efforts at curbing the ugly trend have not yielded any fruit.
It is saddening to note that examination bodies, government functionaries, school authorities, invigilators, parents and students all participate in the nefarious act. The resultant effect of the despicable act is the overwhelming number of half-baked graduates our institutions of higher learning chun out yearly.
The situation became embarrassing to the nation that the Federal Military Government in 1984 had to promulgate Decree 20 to deal with it. Part of the provisions of the Decree reads thus:
â€œAny person who fraudulently or with intent to cheat or secure any unfair advantage to himself or any other person or in abuse of his office, produces, sells or buys or otherwise deals with any question paper intended for the examination of persons at any examination or commits any of the offences specified in section 3 (27)(c) of this Decree, shall be guilty of an offence and on conviction be sentenced to 21 years imprisonment.â€
However, Examination Malpractice Act 33 of 1999 reversed the above Decree but stipulates punishment ranging from a fine of N50,000 to N100,000 and imprisonment for a term of 3-4 years with or without option of fine.
This new development is due to the inability of appropriate authorities to enforce the old Decree 20 of 1985. Despite the provision of this law, examination malpractice has been on the increase and this is partly due to non-implementation of the laws.
Reasons for indulging in examination malpractice, investigations reveal, include low moral standard in schools, candidatesâ€™ fear of failure, lack of confidence in themselves, inadequate preparation, laziness and â€˜419â€™ syndrome that has eaten deep into the life of the society.
Other reasons include inadequate teaching and learning facilities, poor conditions of service of teachers, admission of unqualified candidates into universities, etc.
The overemphasis on certificates over skills and competence has led to â€œmad rushâ€ for certificate acquisition through any possible means. This messy situation is having a negative effect on the nationâ€™s quality of education and certificates because it is unfortunately found out that so many of our certificate holders today cannot defend the credentials they brandish around.
Year-in, year-out, students come up with new dimensions of examination malpractices. The Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), in 2001, introduced variations in question numerations, from candidate to candidate sitting for the same matriculation examination. That year, candidatesâ€™ performance in JAMB examination was very poor. But it did not take long for the syndicates to devise another means to beat JAMBâ€™s innovation and that, without gain saying, was with effective collaboration and active connivance of JAMB officials.
Some other dimensions of examination malpractice are: bringing of â€˜foreign materialsâ€™ into examination halls, assistance from educational stakeholders, irregular activities inside and outside the examination halls, impersonation, harassment of examination officials, electronically assisted malpractices, mass cheating, inscription, and personality connection.
What is the way out?
Moral Teachings: Moral instruction is detailed information, which concerns the principles of right and wrong behaviours. Human morality springs from emotional disposition that are hardwired into our species. Man is a complete entity, and there is no emphasis on the development of the whole individual that can play out morals.
All children are born with a running start on the path to moral development. These children grow up to become adults in the society. This is more reasons why children should be trained in self-discipline and fed with useful instructions.
Efficient Examination Management: Education is expected to provide full training for children and training involves examination and other forms of assessment from time to time to ascertain their level of knowledge and skills acquired. This is the more reason examinations must be well managed.
Examination bodies, school administrators and government should encourage individuals and groups towards prevention of examination malpractices.
Effective Security: Secret cameras should always be planted in examination halls to monitor examinees. Invigilators, school authorities, police personnel, and other examination officials should be put under surveillance as they are major actors in the business of examination malpractice. Their remunerations also need to be reviewed and promptly paid.
Full Implementation Of The Law: Government and its agencies should henceforth stop handling cases of examination malpractices with kid gloves. The law should be implemented without fear or favour. There should not be sacred cows. Anyone caught cheating should be made to face the full wrath of the law and in addition, the names of such culprits should be published in newspapers and magazines to serve as deterrent.
In conclusion, to make the fight against examination malpractice very effective, all the agents of civilization and socialization must participate actively in orienting Nigerian children to work and study harder – that hard work pays and cheating ruins.
If we fail to do all these, the ugly trend would continue with greater proportion, and in no time, our education sector will totally collapse, rendering the workforce completely incompetent and unproductive. Any certificates issued by the nationâ€™s institutions will also become useless, losing recognition both locally and internationally.
â€¢Sulaimon, is a teacher at Taqwa Private School, Ifako-Ijaiye, Iju Road, Agege, Lagos