Is Examination Malpractice ruling over Knowledge in our Education Process?
This is not the, “It was better during our own time” kind of discussion. As a fact, examination malpractice
has dated as far back as corruption and crime in Nigeria. Would I be exaggerating to say that he who is
guilty of exam malpractice has a high tendency to be guilty of non-academic corruption and crime;
examiners and students alike? Right from my secondary school days, examination malpractice has been
perceived as something in its high rate. Looking at the trend today, with more sophisticated methods
(thanks to mobile phones), exam malpractice is becoming an essential part of an education process
Can exam malpractice ever be minimized?
Optimistically, it can but in reality, it’ll take more than some government policy to curb this quality
threatening act. There has already been several government policies in the past geared towards
minimizing exam malpractices, without tangible results. If one can cheat to acquire qualification, he can
as well cheat to acquire position and anything worth acquiring.
Who is to blame?
Examiners, students, the education system all work together to make examination malpractice
achievable (if the cap fits). Unlike in most cases, this is not an avenue to push all blames towards the
federal government. It’s people that make up our society and education system not government. The
worst of it is that it has become so normal that parents encourage their children from junior school to
partake in various forms of exam malpractice. In other words, parents have a significant part to play.
What is being done?
I remember when I was writing WASSCE in 1999. We were compelled to take exams with a pair of
shorts, shirt, and writing materials (nothing more). No boxer shorts, foot wears or any form of inner
wears. I still recall a female examiner (during Maths paper) doing her best to make sure the SS3 students
had no boxer shorts on and nothing in-between. You can imagine the scenario? I’m sure she had a good
time. That’s little compared to several other drastic measures taken to fight illegal activities during
exams. The image below is also an example of measures taken to disarm exam hackers.
Does it have to get that far? Unfortunately, Yes. These measures are taken during exams; but, how
about before and after exams? Lecturers selling marks; question papers showing up before exams?
While there are Nigerian citizens that will do their best to keep the education system in order, there are
always corrupt ones to encourage malpractices and discourage true learning.
Our education system can do more than encourage students to read only to pass exams and get good
grades. This only makes the system easy to manipulate. It’s just so unfortunate that we value pieces of
papers more than actual knowledge, and the impact is evident in various aspects of the economy.
What are the solutions?
Solutions like, teachers should be trained to teach and invigilate students properly; government should
impose strict laws and all that, may help in some way if properly implemented. If this “can” be achieved
and we have like 60% free and fair exams (which, I’d say, is an amazing result), what happens after the
A larger part of the solution lies with students’ perception of education and the outside society. What
image does the society hold for students? Is it that once you have a piece of document (deserved or not)
and the right connections, you are entitled to a bliss career? Or that cheating in political, organizational
or institutional offices and con-artistry (Yahoo – Yahoo) are what it takes to become successful? Where
does education and success fit? The practical answers to these questions hold a psychological effect on
how most students follow through their education process.
If people in the everyday society cheat to get what they want and go free (and even celebrated), there
wouldn’t be much evidence to encourage a student that hard work in school pays strongly after school.
Setting up an examination policy and a strict punishment for defaulters, and adequately enforcing
it without bias (is this really possible?) may help to a degree. But what we essentially need is more
students studying to learn than those going to school for the sake of it.
How about Team work?
This is the information age where Team Work is what we need to keep up with the rapid development.
In the corporate world, it’s rarely about individual success and mostly about team success. Shouldn’t the
attitude of team work be cultivated right from school? Our schools can be more team focused than it
currently is. Students are rotated through groups during school sections and assigned successive course
works (as a group). Each successful team work then builds up marks for each student, according to
team performance, while the main examination takes less percentage of the overall scores. If a student
scores low in his first group, he’ll sit up to do better in his next group. The idea is to spread marks across
several class work activities (maintaining team spirit), while the main exam receives less percentage of
the overall score. Inculcating such group learning habit into students, right from junior school, with a
well structured government policy towards national examinations, will likely decrease the need for exam
malpractice and induce a group learning habit among students.
This article is written by Ikenna Odinaka, of Afterschoolafrica.com, an educational resource on essay
contests and Scholarships for international students.