Three decades of sustained leaking of questions at national examinations has bred an array of consequences. Good students are discouraged from studying hard and are tempted to join the bandwagon as they see others get away with corrupt behaviours. The cheating contagion infects widely as more and more candidates join in. For a generation bred on lawlessness and impunity, the end justifies the means because if they are caught, they will find a way to wriggle out. With this, many good students have been denied admission because their space were offered to incompetents, to the bad ones who got better scores through examination malpractice.
The best brains are thrown out or frustrated while seeking admission, while the lazy cheats gets the coveted course in the most competitive university. Apart from the foregoing, leakages costs us because the testing process has the added effect of delaying the processing of examination scores and grading. This is because students caught engaging in examinations malpractices are usually investigated before results are released. This extends processing time because some results are withheld pending the determination of the cases, some are decided before results are released.
Do we wonder why Nigerian schools churn out unemployable graduates and candidates at different level of its education system, who have certificates they cannot defend? Even the candidates are dissatisfied in themselves based on how they acquired their certificates. How can these candidates be bold to present the certificates they did not earn when they know they can be presented with tasks that will require them to defend the certificates? Have you been to the country’s ministries, agencies, hospitals etc? Incompetence rooted in buying one’s way through the system is gnawing away the gross domestic product of this country. It has percolated into our perception of quality and standard. Teachers who knows nothing but has political godfathers continues to teach ignorance. Half baked doctors are killing patients and prescribing the wrong drugs. It is a putrid swamp we are in, we font even understand the ramifications.
What Are The Causes?
Exam malpractices are committed at the pre-conduct, conduct and evaluation stages. Different people and agents are involved and some of the causes are enumerated below:
- Questions are set by untrained staff and or agents who are unaware of modern approaches to assessment. Exam papers are not true representations of the curriculum.
- Allotment of preferred centres
- Appointment of preferred invigilating staff
- Supervisory staff are selected on patronage to get out of station allowances.
- Invigilators and examination officials pay are low with decrepit facility to mark in.
- Examiners receive blanket marking instructions that do not reflect the specific objectives of the subject. In addition examiners are paid per paper. Because of the race to warn more, most of them mark one paper in only 5 to 10 minutes.
- Examination centers are often without rules; anyone can come in and go out at will.
- Parental involvement in the process by helping their children approach invigilating staff, give bribe and gifts to make them turn a blind eye.
- Teachers connive with invigilators by allowing mobile phones and all sorts of props to facilitate cheating. There is also a general laxity in prosecuting offenders and lack of serious penalty for past offenders which gives the impression that cheating is acceptable.
Apart from students and parents, the teachers have their fair share of the blame too because most of them are poorly trained, have chosen education for lack of alternatives, lack of awareness towards teaching learning objectives and the abrogation of civic education for students.
The use of other unfair means in examinations is a serious problem and it is symptomatic of our general lack of mores. Policy makers must begin to have sufficient appreciation for this malaise. It is harmful for the moral and intellectual development of our youth and it is undermining the foundation of a strong ethical and social fabric for the future.
What Can Be Done?
Nigerians are so crafty, they can rob planet earth of Sunrise. However, the trend can be curbed and the practice rendered unattractive and dangerous.
- Examining bodies can provide more than one set of question paper in each subject to create uncertainty as to which paper will be finally used in the examination.
- Multiple sets of questions can be drawn from the pool to ensure that candidates do not get the same set of questions. Question papers should be printed with spaces for answering the question instead of handing out answer booklets. More weight should be given to continuous assessment than the performance of students in the final examinations.
- Names of every student must be printed on the question and answer booklets to prevent substitution with pre-written booklets.
- Examining bodies should be given the powers to arrest anyone found cheating in the exam hall and they should have the mandate to conduct frequent and unannounced visits to examination centers.
- Cheating can be discouraged by providing good sitting arrangement during exams.
- The importance of integrity of the examination system can be highlighted in a sustained campaign targeted at parents and their wards.
- National examination organizations should benchmark countries with a system rooted in zero tolerance for cheating and share information on new threats to examination security and procedures for counteracting malpractice.
The Sambisa Captives
What is this government doing about the captive girls in Sambisa? How can we overcome this tyranny of indifference?
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