by Chinedu Ugwu
From the east to the west, north south the menace of examination malpractice is echoed in all the nooks and crannies of my country Nigeria. The disease has eaten deep at all levels of our educational system ranging from the tertiary institution down to the primary level. The malady seems incurable because virtually all citizens in one way or the other are involved in this educational malaise. The youths believe they cannot be successful in examinations without this malpractice which they have baptized with so many esoteric aliases as “symbiosis, mgbo, help, memory backup, mercenary, missiles, giraffing, dubbing, xeroxing etc”. The scourge has become the order of the day such that it takes a high degree of courage and a deep sense of patriotism for anyone to bother him or herself discussing it.
Examination malpractice is defined as a deliberate wrong doing contrary to official examination rules designed to place a candidate at an unfair advantage or disadvantage. It comes in different forms like the leakage of examination papers prior to examinations, impersonation, external assistance, writing the answers on the blackboard dictation during examinations, illegal candidates, electronic assistance using phones, pagers etc, smuggling whitepaper into the hall, reproduction of another candidate’s work with or without permission, inadequate spacing, lax supervision and inflation or reduction of a candidate’s original mark by those who grade the scripts.
Laziness, inadequate preparation for examinations, pupils not taking their studies seriously, indolence, depending on fraudulent means to make it without any hard work, and all of this is done with the support of unscrupulous parents and a corrupt system of national life. These are the root causes of this tragedy.
The malefactors involved in this societal evil include corrupt government officials, indulgent parents, guardians, teachers, lecturers, host communities of exam centers, traditional institutions, peer groups, security agents, school administrators and the mass media.
Examination malpractice has become a prolific business enterprise branded with the name of private examination centres aided and abetted by corrupt examination officials, supported by parents who will not allow their children to be left out from the Trojan gift of malpractice. The business is such that some individuals open up offices with the emblematic names of “Brain Trust, One Sitting, A- One at a glance, Good Success, Brightest Future etc”. They collect from the students exorbitant fees which are more than a 100% increase of the normal registration fee. They connive with the unscrupulous proprietors of some private schools who register these candidates. Also these private schools, consisting of two halls and two sets of pupils(JSS 3 and SS3) receive accreditation from the examination bodies, WAEC, NECO etc the same year in which they are opened with or without inspection. The exam officials of these bodies lobby to be sent to such private schools because they know that there they will receive a share of the national cake. The police who are meant to be the watch dogs of justice, after receiving their own settlement (bribe) turn out to be the abettors of this crime. Before the commencement of the exams, pastors and Imans are called upon to invoke their gods which is either the supernatural or the examination messiah (malpractice) to guard the students in their exams so that they can come out in flying colours by hook or crook. Thus, it’s obvious that all heads are involved in the circle of evil called malpractice.
Furthermore, it happens that even the angels eat beans. The latest statistics released by JAMB for 2007 UME shows that Ibadan was rated number one in malpractice. This is a city - Ibadan - which hosts the premier university, and is flooded with a high number of elites, academicians. Thus, when the so called elites could give out money for their children to be enrolled in such private centers then what do you expect from the illiterate business men in Onitsha main market who are easily swerved by their indolent children.
The progress of exam malpractice is such that nine-tenths of all students sitting for any exam engage in malpractice. In Anambra state, thousands of SSCE students leave the state to other states like Edo, Enugu, and Rivers states etc. in search of the examination messiah. Sometimes it happens that 70% of the public schools in Anambra State record a 90% failure in SSCE prompting the question of whether all the pupils in Anambra State are dunces, which would be strange because this is the same state that produced the likes of Philip Emeagwali the computer wizard, the veteran novelist Chinua Achebe, Oby Ezekwesili, Dora Akunyili etc. Thus this leads one to question the uncorrupt nature of the examination bodies. Also most students expelled from the tertiary institutions after 100 level are usually those with the highest scores in JAMB. What a contradiction.
This rudderless ship called examination malpractice whose destination is self destruction poses a great threat to the survival and sustainability of good quality education. This hydra headed monster will facilitate the enthronement of a mediocre, half-baked, incompetent and corrupt workforce ranging from quack doctors and pharmacists, and will lead to massive fraud in banks, the collapse of buildings, and the miscarriage of justice.
This malaria parasite ravaging our educational sector can only be eradicated by a national consciousness. Students should be assiduous and develop an interest towards learning rather than being lethargic to their bookwork.
Parents should have a genuine reason for every penny spent on their children’s education because any student who goes into school through the window will also be thrown out through the window either by rustication or expulsion. The examination bodies JAMB, WAEC, NECO, should be sanitized and employ officials of unquestionable character. Finger prints and photographs should be used as a part of security for the exam papers.
The government should pay more attention to our education because intellectual capital is the brain behind economic and sociopolitical growth in a country. Effective penalties should be introduced against those who carry out malpractices.
Finally, the success of the war against corruption will remain impossible if this deadly disease is not eradicated. A step taken now goes a long way to determine the future of our country since the youths are the leaders of tomorrow. Lets work together to sanitize our educational system, lets save our country, lets save our future.
Chinedu Ugwu is a final year student of Veterinary Medicine in the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.