States, nations, and continents are usually termed underdeveloped using key human development benchmarks. Among these benchmarks are health, education, macroeconomic growth, poverty, the standard of living and many more. Education, as identified above, is critical because it affects other benchmarks. When it is mixed with examination malpractice, it adversely affects the overall development of a nation.
One beautiful morning as I was preparing for work, I received a call from an unknown person. He introduced himself and asked if we could meet in my office. I gave him an appointment for 10.00am. At about 10.15am he was already in my office with his son and we exchanged pleasantries. He started; “Someone directed me to you, with the assurance that my son will get the best of computer training. I want him to be good at it so he can pass his JAMB UTME examination.” Since it’s our business, we registered his son and he made part payment and left.
Over time, I became fond of the young man because of his humility and zeal to learn. Subsequently, I asked him how he has been preparing for his forthcoming exam, and if he has registered. The answer he gave me shocked me. He said; “My dad has registered with someone who assured him that he will assist me to pass the exam.” My next question was, why? If he brought his son to be trained so he could be equipped to sit for the CBT, then why? Why, didn’t I encourage you to read and practice consistently? He said; “I told him, but that is how he does, he does not have confidence in me.”
Examination Malpractice and the Law
Examination malpractice refers to cheating, dishonesty, fraud, and impersonation of any kind during the examination. People who are engaged in such dishonesty adopt measures such as impersonation, copying, bribery, plagiarism, sabotage, and others. Nigeria has an established law that governs the conduct of exams and the penalty of involving oneself in examination malpractice.
According to the law known as, “The Examination Malpractice Act (1999)”, a person is considered to have involved in examination malpractice if such person:
“By any fraudulent trick or device or in abuse of his office or with intent to unjustly enrich himself or any other person procures any question paper produced or intended for use at any examination of persons, whether or not the question paper concerned is proved to be false, not genuine or not related to the examination in question; OR
“By any false pretense or with intent to cheat or secure any unfair advantage for himself or any other person, procures from or induces any other person to deliver to himself or another person any question paper intended for use at any examination; OR
“By any false pretense or with intent to cheat or unjustly enrich himself or any other person buys, sells, procures or otherwise deals with any question paper intended for use or represented as a genuine question paper in respect of any particular examination; OR
“Fraudulently or with intent to cheat or secure any unfair advantage for himself or any other person or in abuse of his office, procures, sells, buys or otherwise deals with any question paper intended for the examination of persons at any examination, commits an offense.”
The consequence of getting involved in exam malpractice is spelled out in Section 1(2) as follow:
If an offender is “a principal, a teacher an invigilator, a supervisor, an examiner…”, he is liable on conviction to four years imprisonment without the option of a fine.
If the offender is a teacher or a school owner, the law recommends a five-year jail term without an option of fine.
Nigeria is hugely underdeveloped, yet there have been incessant cases of malpractice within her education system. Premium times reported of the involvement of parents in examination malpractice in the primary school in Lagos State. The paper identified parent’s involvement to include kid mercenaries, purchase of certificate and contracting teachers to do the dirty job.
To buttress the report made by Premium Times, Punch newspaper reported that parents are the major causes of exam malpractice. According to Dada, in the Punch, a child’s development is divided into four stages as follow: intellectual/ academic, emotional, social, and physical developments. During these stages, both parents and teachers have roles to play. The paper, through Mr. Ormskirk, advised on the need for parents not to rush their wards through school or be overly eager for the certificate.
Moreover, it has been reported of the intention of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) to cancel the results of candidates involved in examination malpractice. The examination body, based on recommendations, is willing to publish the names of candidates, schools, invigilators and supervisors caught aiding and abetting examination malpractice.
These are few of the numerous reports on examination malpractice in the education system of the country. This is in spite of the measures put in place to control this menace as well as the law guiding the conduct of examinations. One thing is certain, if we continue like this, this nation may continually remain underdeveloped. What shall we do?
Family at the Root
There are millions of parents out there who want the best for their children. Yet, they follow the wrong path. We parent always want the best for our children, but the means of reaching this goal is equally important. If we fail to let them understand the difference between right and wrong, they will grow with it. In fact, wrong will automatically become right and will find root in the customs and traditions of our society. This is the foundation of all kinds of vices in our society today, especially, examination malpractice.
Examination malpractice has eaten deep into our education that it has become part of the system. It has grown from the point of holding cheat sheets in the examination hall to the point of being approved and encouraged by the school administration.
Why must it be so? To most schools, everything is money. It is all business. The fact is this, if a school ensures that her candidates make good grades, they will have more candidates. Schools whose candidates made poor grades in external examinations will register fewer candidates by next session.
Therefore, to maintain the flow, schools will do everything possible not to lose revenue. I remember when I first went for WAEC biometric capture in a school at Aba, Nigeria. One of the school administrators told me that the reason they had fewer candidates that year was that they made poor results the previous year.
The Money Game
It is obvious that most things done in our society are directed towards making money. This should not be our paramount goal. Our goal should be directed towards bringing solutions to problems. The end result of any product should be, first, to solve problems, then to earn revenue, not the reverse. If I may ask, to what extent has solutions proffered curbed the problems in focus?
People are expected to be ends to means, not means to an end. When our primary objective is centered on making money and acquiring wealth, how can we solve societal problems? The government is chasing money, politicians are there for the money, the private sector and individuals are pursuing money. As a result, products and programs developed today to solve problems create more problems for tomorrow. How would you explain a skin care product that ended up burning someone’s skin? How would you explain a traditional drug that cures all diseases but ends up causing another sickness? Therefore, our focus should be finding the root causes of a problem and tackling them. If we end up tackling a problem at the top or at the middle, we will create more problems. For example, a man who treats malaria with drugs, but lives in a dirty and water-logged environment.
Target the Right Solution
Our society is battling with corruption, moral decadence, and love for money. In addition, examination malpractice is climbing higher by the day. Though there have been technological proffered solutions, yet they do not target the root causes of the problem. Corruption is being fought at the top, yet it has no impact on society. Most of these problems found their way from the bottom to the top in our society. Every problem has a foundation; hence, the solution should begin at the foundation. But we have ended up chasing shadows in the name of the solution, in the end, we waste resources. Solutions to our social problems should begin in our homes. If every parent would train their children with the right moral standard, our society will be better. If our families are better, society will become better and the world will be a better place to live in. This solution will climb upwards starting from the base.
What were you thought as a child? What can you boast of as a lesson your parents taught you? Are you still living by this lesson? What are you teaching your children? Are your children following your steps? As a person, what footmarks are you setting for others? What will you teach your children tomorrow? Our future as a people depends on what we think concerning tomorrow. Seek a solution to that problem, think creatively, start from the root to the peak. No one climbs the ladder from the top but from the base.
Examination malpractice cannot be easily curbed when the stakeholders have a different opinion. As noted above, every nation seeking to be named as ‘developed’ must first develop their education sector. This is far-fetched in our great nation, as can easily be seen through the increasing rate of examination malpractice. Yet there is the solution to the problem we set our heart on. This is one of them, to root out examination malpractice in our education system. How can we do this? You have a role to play beginning with your family first.
Think of it for a second! How best can we curb this menace of examination malpractice eating up our education system, and destroying the future of our nation?
Should we focus on the law? Of course, the answer is no, because the law has failed. The existence of law has no impact on the rising trend in examination malpractice in our nation.
Ok, should we concentrate on developing electronic and mechanical measures to curb this problem? Yet another no! It is a fact that measures put in place have not yielded the required results. This is because each measure comes with it a countermeasure to ruin the efforts of authorities and institutions in-charge.
Then, what measure do I propose?
I propose mind transformation, less dependence on certificates as a basis for employment. I propose rewarding creativity more than frivolity.
You will agree with me that we are gradually killing our education and the future development of our nation because we have failed to do the right thing. Let us redirect our focus to what is right.
What do you propose? Your comment can help restore the falling standard of education in our dear country. Your opinion matters.