Examination malpractice: who is to blame?
By Nwaorgu Faustinus
The is one ill which has bedevilled the educational system and if honestly confronted head-on and eliminated will change the perception which the comity of nations do have about Nigeria certificates and thus make our certificates acceptable and by extension Nigeria good place where honesty and transparency is venerated.
This ill that has eaten so deep into the bone marrow of our educational system is examination malpractice. Examination malpractice can be defined as any illegal and unlawful help, aid and or assistance extended to any candidate or group of candidates in an examination hall, room or auditorium. It is seen as illegal, unlawful and unauthorized because it is not permitted by examination agency.
At present, hardly can you see candidates who are preparing for the SSCE, WASEC and NECO burning the midnight oil or having sleepless night and exam fever. Till Day Breaks (TDB’s) is no longer the norm for candidates who are preparing for their exams. It is no longer a thing of disgrace to be caught cheating in exam hall or talking to a fellow candidate to aid exam fraud. The graveyard tranquillity which characterized exam halls in the good old days has suddenly disappeared and has been replaced by “hullabaloo” as teachers read out answers to the questions asked and the inability of a greater percentage of candidates who cannot spell words, ask teachers to spell it for them, thus compelling the teacher to write the answers on the board.
These days there are no obvious signs that tell you a candidate for GCE, SSCE or NECO is preparing for it. What most candidates have imbibed is the habit to watch Nigerian Home Videos till late hours, going to parties, chatting on the internet and watching English Premiership or European Champions league. The above features have taken over the burning of midnight oil.
Most candidates especially in private secondary and even in public schools know beforehand that they will be helped or assisted during the examination by their teachers. This justifies their nonchalant attitude towards taking their studies seriously. I was appalled by the revelation of a secondary leaver who took part in the 2009 SSCE as an external candidate in one of the private schools here in Rivers state. She said they were compelled by the school authority to pay #500 per subject so that answers to the questions will be made available to them or risk the rejection of their answer script.
No doubt, most private and handful of public schools have turned into “Miracle Centre or Commercial Outfits where SSCE, NECO and GCE candidates pass their papers with ease. This accounts for the sudden upsurge in the number of candidates in such private schools who register as external candidates for the exam.
Today, the phrase “everyone has a price”, in the Nigeria context is not in doubt. This is why invigilators, supervisors and teachers appointed to conduct exam compromise their integrity by corruptly enriching themselves while aiding and abetting exam fraud. Some candidates and teachers do connive to bribe supervisors to look the other way as they unleash unprecedented fraud in the exam hall. As a result one can easily see candidates using textbook and key points freely to supply answers to questions asked. What an unfortunate state of affairs!
The apportioning of blame should not only be meted out to parents and their wards, the Miracle Centres and their teachers but also to examination agency who are not ignorant of sitting capacity of single hall facility and sitting arrangement between one seat and the other during SSCE, NECO and so on. It is not in doubt that May/June SSCE and NECO are for internal students but one wonders why examination bodies pretend and allow the schools to register out-of-school especially students who are in the universities battling to make up their papers.
Spouses who have prior knowledge of their children academic deficiencies do not only embrace the Miracle Centres by paying outrageous sums of money to have their wards registered but also go extra miles to contract the service of mercenaries. The reasons given by parent are that, they will not be able to pay such amount the following year for the same exam. As regrettable as this wisdom is, parents do not seem to look beyond their nose as to the future this fraud could usher in or portend to humanity if it is not nipped in the bud. These products of Miracle Centres are the ones finding it difficult to pass the not long post UME tests which has generated criticisms.
It therefore behoves the various actors in this fraud to re-examine themselves as unexamined life is not life and turn over a new leaf. Teachers, invigilators, students among others who collaborate to orchestrate examination malpractice should be adequately punished to serve as inhibition to would-be or prospective examination fraudsters. Students of public and private schools as well as those who aid them in this ignoble act should be reoriented on the dangers of such acts. It is when this is done that there could be some level of integrity in our examination halls.
Nwaorgu Faustinus writes from Port Harcourt, Rivers State