EXAMINATION MALPRACTICES, WHO IS TO BLAME?
Education is no doubt an integral part of a nation’s development, be it economically, socially and in the human development. That is why countries who are desirous to keep pace with developments at global level, place education at the top in priority of its agenda
The main purpose of examination is to access the skill of an individual and knowledge content, that is to say it measures how much knowledge an individual in an institution of learning has acquired over the period under tutelage. It also helps to guide the teachers/lecturers in evaluating their own work in other to ascertain how much knowledge they have inculcated into their students. If the student’s performance in examination is encouraging, then it indicates that the teacher’s/lecturer’s methods of teaching are appropriate and efficient.
However examination malpractice has been described to be any illegal act committed by a student single handedly or in collaboration with others like fellow students, parents, teachers, supervisors, invigilators, printers and anybody or group of people before, during or after examination in order to obtain undeserved marks or grades. This is usually characterized by ‘leakage’ of question papers to copying, changing answer booklets, impersonation, misconduct in examination centre, approaching invigilators/examiners, making false entries in award list/ examination registers and issuing fake certificate/degrees etc.
The first major incidence of Examination malpractice is dated back to 1914, when the Senior Cambridge local examinations ‘leaked’. This scenario took an unprecedented surge in 1963 when two public examinations of 1967, 1977, 1981 and 1987 ‘leaked’. These ‘leakages’ then attracted the attention of the Federal Government, which led to the promulgation of Decree 27 of 1973, and miscellaneous decree 20 of 1984 to curb Examination Malpractices, and the latter decree prescribed 21 years jail term for offenders. However Examination Malpractice Act 33 of 1999 revised the above decree but now stipulates punishment ranging from a fine of N50, 000.00 to N100, 000.00 and imprisonment for a term of 3-4 years with or without option of fine. These have neither mitigated or achieved any significant improvement nor deterred people from engaging in examination malpractice. In the WAEC conducted examination in 1991, 30,982 students were involved in examination malpractices while 35,479 were reported in 1992. Most recently 51, 876 candidates were involved in various allegations of examination malpractice at the November/December 2010 West African Senior School Certificate Examination.
What could be responsible for the rising rate of examination malpractice? Some students on their part have been known to exhibit traits of laziness, and are not well prepared for examinations. The fear of failure, desperation, panic, “exam fever” and over populated classrooms results into a do or die approach to achieve success. Moreover they view it as less stress and headaches to pay their way through everything not knowing that knowledge is power and the key to succeed in life.
On the flip side, some parents go to any length in buying question papers for their children while some others even buy certificates. Most parents engage the services of teachers/lecturers privately to teach their children during examination period in the guise of “extra moral classes” and induce them financially to favour their wards.
In recent times, the introduction of “special centers” where student are organized to write their exams have been known to contribute to the increase in examination misconduct. The Nigerian Examination Committee which is the highest decision-making organ of WAEC, however, attributed the increasing rate of examination malpractice to proliferation of private schools as a business venture rather than a social service, poor infrastructure in public schools, lack of well trained and qualified teachers.
The society has also played its role; cheats are viewed as being smart, and nobody wants to know how an individual achieves success, they applaud and accord undeserved encomium on them.
Who is to be blamed? Who is fooling who? Is it the examination bodies that have little or no resources or funds to carry out their roles and responsibility to the educational sector, the parents who wants their kids to be the envy of everyone else and does everything possible to make sure they come out with flying colours by helping their kids bribe their way through, the students who view reading and preparing for examination as a waste of time when there are options (shortcuts), the teachers/lecturers who are not even qualified enough and are too busy to go through the bulky syllabus, and as such have fashioned out a way of earning more by helping the students cheat, or the society who have accepted it as normal, being smart and do not see anything wrong in it.
Mrs. Nneka Okolo, a parent says students resolve to examination malpractice because of the fear of failure which is very bad. They don’t read instead they pay lecturers to manipulate the results, they even go as far as where the papers are being printed and the question will be released to them. Who is really at fault? Firstly parents are involved because some parents encourage their children to cheat, which is not good, instead of encouraging them to read their books, get them past questions papers and get private teachers to teach them at home, so that they will be more knowledgeable and equipped to go into the examination with confidence, that fear will not be there. Some parents are too busy to pay attention to their children’s education. The examiners or invigilators are also to be blamed because of their quest to get quick money, collect money from students and parents and at times even in the examination they give these children answers to the questions which is terrible, what are they impacting into these children and when they finally pass these examination, when they get to higher institutions they become a problem, they will not be able to read because they like to have quick success and even when they graduate e.g. as a medical doctor they are not able to practice because they have no knowledge of what they have learnt, they don’t know what to do. This is why most parents send their children abroad because all these things are not there. Let’s encourage the children here to read and be hardworking. The Government too is not innocent in this issue. Why should they allow these lecturers gain access to the examination papers?
“Everybody has a role to play; the government, parents and the students themselves. The government indulges in malpractices from rigging of elections so how can they contain examination malpractice, so the children learn these things. The money they pay is given to them by their parents, the parents pay the money because everybody wants their child to be in school, they are ready to pay any amount of money and they inculcate these things into the children”, said mrs Okolo.
According to Richard Joseph, everybody has their fault. The government provides bulky syllabus and no trained teacher, the students are not taught well, inadequate learning materials. The students are lazy, the teachers and examiners who take money from students, the parents who pay the money.
Also Sunday Inyang told Specials International that Examination malpractice is going contrary to the rules and regulations of the standard of educational board. In this issue, it is important to look at the basic foundation of what the parents inculcated into the child. Charity begins at home, these children mix up with others from various backgrounds that influence them. How was the child brought up? What educational background did he have? The society, even in higher authority is saddle with bribery and corruption. Basically everybody is involved.
Mrs. Vivian Osemeke is a school teacher of many years. She says the issue of examination malpractice didn’t just start. It’s a wonder how everyone wants to be on the fast lane. Students have become lazy, they no longer read, it’s very painful that after so much effort we put to teach, most parents don’t help matters as they are too busy to monitor their children at home. We are teachers, we only impact our knowledge to them, and we can’t do all by ourselves. No doubt some teachers have been found wanting but the truth is that they are still misled by the parents who want everything easy for their children, though it’s not an excuse, it’s just greed.
She laments the poor infrastructure. She also stressed the fact that teachers are being relegated to the background, forgetting they are the bedrock of every profession.