Schooling and the education system that supports it, was developed as an instrument to equip children from early childhood to adulthood so they can lead productive public lives and full personal lives based on learning, talent and interest. It gives individuals the opportunity to develop their skills; along academic and vocational lines. The ability of any nation to sustain this process is key to its ability to create and maintain a progressive and democratic society.
Nigeria has abysmal public institutions today because of the quality of education in its education system and the priority assigned to education. The parlous education given the country’s youth in the last two decades has contributed largely to the formation of the attitudes carried over into public service today. Nigeria has sown ignorance and the rewards are manifested in millions of miseducated and unemployable youths coming out of secondary schools, colleges of education, polytechnics and universities.
Should anyone be surprised? Not really. This is because there is so much to draw from, in history. Ancient Greece, Rome, the Ottoman Empire and several others had one thing in common. They all had enormous political power only when they were great seats of learning offering intellectual leadership to the world. Nightfall came to all of them when intellectual decadence tore the core of their societies. No nation has ever risen to prominence, won wars, and wrought a revolution without a robust education system to feed the minds of its populace. That is why Nigeria’s mediocre institutions of learning have imprinted mediocrity into every clerk, director, soldier, teacher, doctor, professor etc.
Education continues to impact Nigeria’s national character negatively because of its short and long term power to bake all who go through its process. Education rests squarely on the pivot of examination and the success or failure of the system of examination is a potent indicator of the success or failure of any system of education. In Nigeria today, the system of examination as conducted by examination bodies such as WAEC, NECO, JAMB and by schools themselves no longer serve the purposes it purports to serve. The two defining concepts behind examinations: (a) Validity and (b) Reliability are routinely violated on a widespread scale. An examination is said to be valid if it performs the functions it is designed to perform and if the consistency of measurement ensures it is reliable. The current system of examination in Nigeria and its conduct undermines the assumptions of validity and reliability, making the results questionable. Under the current system, examination cannot be the true test for evaluating the performance or judging the scholastic attainment of students. The system of examination all over Nigeria at all levels of education is broken.
I got the message below (unedited) from one of my readers.
“My two daughters went out this morning at 6 a.m. to JAMB centres for exams. The brother who took them warned us when he saw the amount the kids got for refreshments and strongly observed that the money would be inadequate. 2k (Two thousand naira) per child to my mind was already too much for snacks! I failed to understand his message. Kids got home with tales of woe.
“First, to enter exam premises, you pay a fee of five hundred naira titled marching ground, then the invigilators DEMANDED 5K per child to enable the child connect via GSM to an aide somewhere who provides answers as required. Thirdly, The law enforcement agents we call policemen who came there waited a while collected their part of the deal and left the kids at the mercy of these JAMB touts. Sadly many parents were there to fund their kids directly and waited throughout supervising the exam from outside the hall. They have surrendered to an overpowering cabal. I wonder if these kids will ever have any sense of right or wrong when parents are coerced in their presence into direct participation in such evil schemes.
“My daughters did not pay the money and their papers were marked implying that they were caught in exam malpractices i.e cheating. My guess is that they would have paid up too to avoid the hassles that followed. They now have to wait another year to utilise the lessons learnt from today’s exercise.
“All the study, stress, preparation wasted by a group of useless jamb touts who sadly are too myopic to realise the enormity of the wrong they have done to this nation. My naivety is obvious to all reading this – never thought this nation had descended this far. The kids did not even have a choice. Join the cheats or fail without even a chance at writing the exams. Honestly, I did not know things had gone so far. Consequently, and in a traumatic sudden manner too, I have come to a wall of sorts and finally understand the reason why Nigerians are fleeing this nation daily.”
From the experience of this reader, the special centres, and so many stories we have heard; it bolsters the argument that the use of unfair means in examinations across the country has become an epidemic. Except for pockets of sanity in certain private schools, Nigeria is witnessing an increasing trend in exam malpractice, such that the examining bodies are unable to stop it. Everyone, yes everyone is aware of the problem, but there is no will to taking effective steps towards ridding the system of it.
Apart from students, parents have become active participants in their children’s journey of cheating. Because increasing demand feeds supply, the thriving exam malpractice business has now given rise to the Cheating Mafia who can get anyone their desired grades once the price is right. In like manner, since evil has taking the colouration of good in the land, perhaps it is good to call examination malpractice what it is. It is any deliberate act performed by a candidate that runs contrary to the examination rules that will place a candidate at an unfair advantage or disadvantage as in the case above. It is often committed by the student alone or in collaboration with other students, parents, teachers, supervisors, invigilators, printers and anybody before, during or after examination in order to obtain undeserved marks.
Integrity of exams is compromised in different ways. From the leakage of question papers to copying, swapping of answer booklets, impersonation, bribing invigilators and issuing fake certificate for unattained degrees and using cheating centres etc.
Even though we have seen several ingenious ways of cheating in exams since the GSM revolution, below are common forms of malpractices committed in examinations across Nigeria.
- Helping candidates in viva voce
- Selling of question papers by officers of the examining bodies
- Using special centres where students are helped to write the exams of have been given the questions before hand.
- Sale of examination centres to the Cheating Mafia where unfair means paid for.
- Smuggling of answer booklets into the examination hall.
- Arranging for special invigilators.
- Offering bribes to invigilators.
- Issuing threats or intimidating invigilators with a view yo distract them before committing malpractice.
- Leaking questions.
- Giving or receiving assistance to copy in the exam hall.
- Possessing cheating material in written, printed or electronic form.
- Addition to answer books after examination.
- Manipulating marks through fictitious entries in award list/examination register.
- Helping candidates use unfair means in or outside the exam hall.
We have inflicted on ourselves a general lack of ambition, we are focused on good enough above all else. Nigeria has become a society of low standards, where the bar is set so low that we expect and celebrate mediocrity.
To be continued…
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