One of the major problems confronting educational institutions in Nigeria is examination malpractice.
Examination malpractice is a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabric of the society to the extent that many now consider it as a normal process of passing an examination. Many students have gradually relegated hard work and commitment to academic excellence to cheating in examination halls.
Because of the notorious nature examination malpractice has assumed, and due to its endemic nature, in the educational system, the government had to promulgate The Examination Malpractice Act (1999) to curb the menace. Despite the severe punishments the Act specified for those found guilty of examination malpractice, this has not really curbed the illegality.
On their part, the external examination bodies such as West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO), to mention just 2, have decided to take the ‘’bull by the horn’’ by prescribing their own punishment for those involved in malpractice during their examinations. Every year they withhold the results and, in some cases, cancelling the entire results of students who involve themselves in examination malpractice. In the case of schools, they have been severely fined and in many instances their Examination Centers have been cancelled for a given period of time.
Sometimes we ask the question; who really is to blame for examination malpractice in Nigeria? Should we blame only the students? By no means.
These days the following set of individuals and institutions are involved directly or indirectly in examination malpractice. They must share the blame in the damage this has caused our educational systems. Those to blame include, among others;
- School principals
- The society
We shall be looking at the role each of the above play in examination malpractice in Nigeria. But this post we shall concentrate on the roles the school management play in examination malpractice.
The Role of School Principals in Examination malpractice
In the days of old when only mission schools and later public schools were in existence, it was a serious offence for any student to get himself or herself involved in examination malpractice. It is a thing of pride and joy for students to pass their examinations purely on merit. Cheating was an anathema.
Principals concentrated on giving their students the best in quality education. They were concerned about giving value. Students on their part understood that the only way they can progress in their academic pursuit is for them to sit down and squarely face their studies. Hence, the term ‘till day break’’. The term that signifies the fact read throughout the night. Just to ensure that they pass their examination.
Students understood the severity of the punishment to those that will involve themselves in examination malpractice. The consequences were terrifying. They would not dare it.
That was the norm until the advent of private schools. When these set of schools came on board, the sanctity of our examination system gradually became eroded. Most private schools were set up mainly for financial gain and not purely as a social service.
With the desire for profit, the drive for population in private schools become strong. It became a do or die affair. One of the ways by which they can improve school enrollment and population is to ensure that all students pass their Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) with excellent grades.
In view of the fact that not all students have the same learning ability, then those with low ability must be assisted to pass their examinations. Gradually, examination malpractice became the norm. School authorities will even go to the extent of procuring examination question papers for their students. In some cases, they will follow through to the marking centers. Indeed, they will do anything to ensure that their students pass. Of course, at an extra financial burden on the students.
Because of the ‘’successes’’ achieved by the private schools’, public schools joined the league. Within a short time, public schools became notorious in examination malpractice. It became more rampant that students will even leave private schools from SS 2 to join such public schools where they can have the freedom to cheat during SSCE.
Then the Miracle Centers came on board. These are purely cheating Centers and nothing more. Because of the pervasive nature of our society students’ troop to these centers at will. They even have more population than the normal schools.
The question is, is government not aware of these centers set up mainly for cheating? Why have they not considered it necessary to invoke the provisions of The Examination Malpractice Act (1999). Why must the school authorities and government turn a blind eye to what has become so glaring?
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