The importance of education in our nation cannot be over emphasized as it helps in the all-round growth and development of an individual as well as the society at large.
If we fail to uphold the tenets of a proper education, all we would be left with is half baked individuals being churned out of our education institutions.
The fact that the world today is a global village means that products of Nigerian institutions will get to contend with students from other parts of the world in spite of the laxity, nonchalance and lack of seriousness on the part of students, teachers and the authorities that have bedevilled the educational sector over the years.
The Nigerian student has to prove that in a country stigmatized and often referred to as being corrupt and also with a dilapidated educational system, he or she can stand at par or shoulders above their peers from other nations.
Examination malpractice can be defined as an action taken before, during or after an examination that can render the result invalid.
This could involve entering the exam hall with foreign materials, copying another candidate, impersonation, exchanging answer booklets, inappropriate conversations, examiner bribery, amongst others. This definition is not a far cry from what is witnessed in our educational sector.
It is indeed heart wrenching that in the last West African Examination Council (WAEC) examinations, Nigeria was adjudged as having the highest rate of malpractice of all the member countries. This is indeed a slap on the face of the self-acclaimed “Giant of Africa”.
Causes of Examination Malpractice
A problem such as exam malpractice has some deeply rooted underlying causes. Some of them are;
- Laziness on the part of students: The Oxford dictionary defines laziness as an unwillingness to make use of energy. Most students are indeed guilty of this as they are no longer interested in burning the proverbial midnight candle because they tend to take their educational experience as a walk in the park where they can cut corners to get results instead of a place where knowledge and success is acquired by putting ones nose to the grindstone, thus when examinations come calling, such students fall victim to panicking and begin to run from pillar to post looking for ways to bypass or shunt the process through malpractices.
- Lack of commitment / Laxity by Tutors: Teachers and lecturers alike have a massive responsibility as moulders of futures of young ones to ensure that the students get the best of tutoring in order to properly prepare them for examinations. In a situation where either the students are not well coached or are not even taught at all, they will have no other option other than to engage in malpractice when they are faced with exam question from areas where they lack competency. It is a popular saying that “you cannot give what you do not have”, hence a student who has not be taught on a particular topic cannot be expected to effectively tackle problems on that topic without “assistance”.
- Parental Influence: Some parents are hell bent on ensuring that their children and wards pass their examinations at all costs, even if it means sponsoring them to engage in various forms of examination malpractices. Parents have been known to influence the outcome of their children’s examinations through bribery and intimidation.
- Indifference by Authorities: The Federal Ministry of Education as well as the various education boards seem to have become completely indifferent towards the plight of students and teachers with regards to their welfare, exams organisation and prevention of malpractice. In a situation where a supervisor is not properly paid and catered for, it then makes it very easy for them to be lured into aiding and abetting malpractice.
Effects of Examination Malpractice
The purpose of examination is to test the competency and level of understanding of students in a given field.
In a case where malpractice is allowed to thrive, the main purpose of an examination is completely defeated, thereby allowing unqualified students to parade degrees and certificates that they cannot defend.
This scourge has so degraded the value of a Nigerian degree that a good number of reputable establishments are of the opinion that Nigerian graduates are “not employable”.
Another adverse effect of malpractice is that it might reduce the chances of good students from achieving their potential.
For example, in a university matriculation exam, the cut off for admission is normally set based on the overall performance of the candidates.
A good number of students can score high marks as a result of malpractice, thus disqualifying some or all of the really good ones.
How to Stop Examination Malpractice
While there might not be a “silver bullet” to completely wipe out examination malpractice, the following steps can reduce it to the barest minimum.
- Renewed Awareness Drive: Students, teachers, parents and even the society at large should be continuously reminded and kept aware of the negative effects of malpractice on our development as a country. If possible, workshops and seminars should be organised to further reiterate the importance of hard work and diligence as the right way to achieving educational success. If all parties are convinced that it is better to fail honourably than to pass dishonourably then less effort will be put into perpetuating malpractice.
- Parental Efforts: Parents need to take it upon themselves to ensure that their children and wards are not only getting the best tutoring but are also studying hard for any upcoming examinations, if possible they can also assist to teach their children if they have the required skillset. This would help to boost the confidence of the children and also make examination malpractice less attractive.
- Provision of Qualified Teachers: This responsibility lies mainly with the government. They need to ensure that all those who have the responsibility of training students in schools are qualified and certified to do the job up to the required standard. The government also has the responsibility of ensuring that the welfare of these teachers are properly catered for.
- Improved Supervision in Examination Halls: This can also go a long way in stemming examination malpractice in the country. A situation where only one or two invigilators are assigned to conduct examination for a large number of students, would definitely allow those who have ulterior motives to perpetuate the act.
- Enforcement of Stiff Penalties for Offenders: There is currently a 21 year jail term attached to examination malpractice in Nigeria. However cases of malpractice are hardly chased in court. The point here is not to prescribe such a long jail term for examination malpractice but to ensure that those caught in the act are prosecuted according to the rule of law.
- Adoption of Computer Based Examination: Recent experience has shown that it is a lot more difficult to cheat in a computer based examination because methods such as copying, answer booklet swapping, question leakage and bribery of examiners are greatly reduced if not completely eliminated.
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