Examination Malpractice and our future as a Nation
There is one problem which if well tackled and eradicated Nigeria will become a better place again where credibility and integrity is respected: That problem is actually the topic of this write up.
What is this examination malpractice? It is any form of illegal and unauthorized assistance given to a single candidate or group of candidates in an examination. Illegal and unauthorized in the sense that these actions are prohibited by examination bodies concerned.
Gone are the days when candidates that are preparing either for their SSCE or JAMB examinations had sleepless nights and exam fever cringe with fear at the mere thought that an examination awaits them. Gone are the days when students embarked on TDBs (Till Day Breaks) reading for their exams. Gone are the days when students dreaded examination halls more than they would a prison yard cell. Gone are the days when examination halls were as quite as grave yards just because every student was concentrating on his or her own work and will not dare allow a pencil drop or turn a head around. Gone are the days when it will be a thing of shame for you to be caught cheating in an examination. All of these are shamefully (?) missing today and our leaders and lawmakers dont seem to be bothered about it.
What we have today are pictures of a miserable society that is digging its grave with its own hands. It has even gone shamelessly beyond that for the society is not only digging its own grave but is even writing the script for the burial rites. The students that are preparing (?) for examinations are no longer identifiable in the society because these supposed candidates show no obvious sign like reading or positive concern for the task ahead. TDBs are no longer the order of the day. When it is done, it is either for partying or watching the ever increasing Nigerian Home videos. All of these is because the examinations are always been seen before the examinations or even when they are not gotten prior to the examination, answers are read out, written on the board or better still, solved and photocopied for easy handling. Examinations are now usually like market places with candidates looking over their shoulders into the books of others is as less a crime as breathing air. Today, if you dont cheat in an exam or go in with chokes, you are a jew guy.
The reason for this trend is not far- fetched and I stand to be challenged and corrected: the proliferation of private schools at the end of the eighties and early nineties. If you disagree with me, go back along memory lane if you are old enough to remember. Cases of malpractice existed right from time but those who partook were always at their own. Let me explain this a little: since most schools were either owned by government or run by missions, there were high level of discipline and morality. The advent of the private schools which I refer to as business centres, with reasons which I will explicate on more shortly, things started to deteriorate. Because their main aims of setting up such schools were for profit purposes, morality and disciple were thrown to the wind. Profits and gains were now high up in the cards.
My reason for calling them business centres is that most of these schools have nothing to offer except the business which is the topic of discussion here. You will sometimes hear to management of such schools say (when they have a project to undertake), lets wait until after WAEC/ NECO registration. This actually is their season of harvest. Private schools it is that perfected and refined the techniques of examination fraud that it has left many convincingly saying it cannot be stopped in Nigeria. They even compete to out do each other in the act by doing so well in their effort to get wonderful results as an advert to get more students to their school for the next registration session.
Now let me talk about the key players that are responsible for this dastardly practice. You might be expecting me to start with condemning the students for their role in the examination fraud syndicate. My first port of call however is at the house of the examination bodies. As a supervisor to WAEC and NECO examinations, I am normally left in awe at why a school whose total student population from JS 1 SS 2 is less than two hundred should have over four hundred students registered for these examinations. It shows immediately that something is not just right.
These examination bodies give a description of the required sitting arrangement distance for it exams but go ahead to allow the schools more than five hundred students. I stand to be corrected; I think there is no secondary school in Nigeria that has a single hall facility that can conveniently and reliably take more than four hundred students with the original prescribed sitting arrangement and spacing distance of WAEC and NECO. Most government and missionary schools do no have these facilities let alone mushroom business centres called private schools. Furthermore, some officials of the examination bodies have those they take to these school calling them my candidates and so connive with such schools to allow malpractice take place by sending supervisors of like- mind to such schools. We have always known that May/ June and June? July SSCE are for in- school students but these examination bodies have closed their eyes to that fact and the schools are having a field day registering even pregnant women, old men and other secondary school graduates. These categories of people are actually responsible for the worsening malpractice problems in school exams. Lets be frank with ourselves, are these indices not pointers that the examination bodies want to allow malpractice to take place?
The next on my list of culprits is very regrettably those in charge of our ivory towers, the starting point for a career in life. They are actually worse off in my criticism because they play the role of the chief host by providing an un-level playing field for these crimes to be perpetrated. Their major concern is an increase in their bank accounts. For most of these private schools, sorry, business centres, no form of dedicated teaching is done. Nothing of a commitment to the building up of the young souls entrusted to them is even considered which is why at the end of six years under their tutelage, answers are either read to or written on the board for them. If you are a proprietor of a private school that does this, I challenge you to confront me and tell me that you were actually putting in your best for those six years to build the children, the same way you were built; or probably you were not. Please tell me that what you are doing is right and I will apologize for this write- up. The schools are as indicted as the examination bodies for all I care because the moment you arrive as a supervisor, they will begin to negotiate the price to allow his teachers assist the students. As for the teachers in such schools, consider this fact: if you were brought up this way you wouldnt have had anything in your head to offer to these students. Writing for them on examination day is exploitation and deprivation of what they should have known. One last thing for school authorities and teachers, they students know that you assistance to them is wrong which is why they have to pay you in advance to do the dirty work for them.
Supervisors that condone this act I consider to be the most insincere set of humans and my reasons are these. They are supposed to be custodians of the examinations that determine the fate of a nation yet they throw away the trust for a few thousands of naira. Some supervisors even shamelessly negotiate the amount to be paid him before assistance is offered while some even demand that the students gather money right there in the hall for them. The importance of the paper determines the amount to be paid and so Mathematics and English Language normally attract the highest payment. I have often asked my colleagues that of all these years of collecting money from schools and students, what changes it has brought to them. I use to want to find out if they would gladly employ such students in their self owned company. The truth remains that if supervisors do not compromise; to a great extent the integrity of the exam will be retained.
Parents who have fore-knowledge of their childrens academic abilities have found solace in these prominent Business centers by always paying heavy sums of money to register them for exams. Some reasons they give are that they will not be able to afford such a sum the following year for the same examination. Very unfortunately, this wisdom is very shallow as these types of parents fail to look or see into the implications of these acts as it bothers on our tomorrow as a nation. Without even going too far, these are the categories of students that will not be able to defend their results in the university especially at the recently introduced post JAMB tests which has received a lot of knocks for the above reasons.
Sooner or later, these students are withdrawn from the university and then it is back to square one. Do the checking yourself parent, which is more expensive? For the students, it is a pity that more than eighty percent rely on being taught. This is simply because you have refused to do their homework. Some of the students meet the supervisor, gather money for him/her and ask him/her to help them. Help indeed! They help you only but to destroy you and then your money is in their pockets. Except those supervisors that were products of the same trade, they were all schooled and wrote their examinations without any form of assistance. Why should yours be different? Why?
Check out these facts and figures below:
- Despite the malpractice in Nigeria in the last almost a decade, Nigeria remains the poorest in Mathematics and English language in WAEC amongst the other four West African Countries.
- About seventy percent of Private and Government schools across the country indulge in examination fraud.
- More than seventy five percent of SSCE certificate holders in the last five years are brandishing results that are not their effort.
- Many of these students today have As in English but can hardly construct flawless sentences in English or speak fluent well tensed English.
Pathetically and most regrettably, our tomorrow looks very, very bleak to be mild. What we are planting will definitely be reaped tomorrow. We have spent many hours arguing, swearing, blaming and causing our present leaders for our misfortunes as a nation. Many of us have argued that unless the old brigade is replaced with fresh blood, things will never go right for us. I have since been trying without success to see the truth in this argument. My reason is not far fetched. Our present leaders had proper education and were well equipped for their vocation in life; they wrote their examinations properly and passed through university rightly.
If these well bred Nigerians are squandering our nations resources this way, how then can I be convinced that with these examination malpractice bred generation, Nigeria can get better. I am looking for someone to convince me.
See, we are not seeing this problem as a scourge today but I assure us that very soon we will. Very soon, we will not be able to have capable, competent and qualified people in our offices and parastatals. When people like these are employed to work with you, be sure that you will be doing the work of two people.
If they become Architects, Engineers or doctors through these ways, tomorrow you may reside in houses, ride over bridges designed by them and your child may fall into their hands to be treated, what would be your lot?
Our certificates are already being rejected abroad due to its loss of credibility. How shameful for us as the giant of Africa. We must all join hands to expunge examination fraud from our nation. Enough is enough!
My final line goes to those holding certificates that do not really depict their effort. Forever, you will always remember that the result you have is not yours.