How many of us can beat our chests and defend our secondary school leaving certificates? Right!. Few hands up in the air.
The education sector is no doubt one of the corrupt sectors in Nigeria. Examination malpractice has rocked this sector for a very long time in both the West African and National Examinations (WAEC&NECO).
Last week, I ran into some students on their way to school to write exams. Knowing they do not formally belong to that particular school, I couldn’t help but ask why they left their former school to take the external exams elsewhere. As expected, they confirmed to me that the school centre they were writing at happens to be one of the ‘miracle’ centres.
Feigning interest and ignorance, I asked what that meant and they further clarified that miracle centres were centres where all students pass with excellent grades without exception.
“Regardless of the students’ performance?” I asked, and the response I got in the affirmative was nothing next to news.
One may ask, why must exam malpractice in school leaving examinations be patronized? Isn’t it the same curriculum contents that students are taught in classes that appear in the exam questions? Those examination bodies even provide a syllabus to narrow the scopes of subjects for the exams.
However, this argument may be countered with claims that even with the syllabus, schools feel compelled to bribe the exam bodies so that they can ‘polish’ the scores of their students.
According to a report by Anti-corruption evidence, Nigeria ranked first in the 2012 global examination malpractice index. First!
Examination malpractices can take several forms; from using smart devices to access questions online while bribing officials, or getting hold of questions before the commencement of exams where schools have the requisite connections.
For decades, there have been controversies as to where to put the blame for exam malpractice. Who do we blame? The examination bodies? The school? Teachers? Or the entire education system?
The examination bodies (WAEC & NECO) have on several occasions condemned and discouraged the act of cheating in examinations.
However, the secondary school system at all levels can be said to directly or indirectly sustain such malpractices.
Examination bodies facilitate exam malpractice by discouraging supervising examiners. Several allegations have been raised on occasions that examiners who are willing to perform the statutory duty of reporting cases of malpractices are being discouraged by the lack of implementation of sanctions.
Similarly, it is no news that examiners are found guilty of accepting bribes from schools to allow students to indulge in malpractice activities. In so doing, the examination body through the school, through the teachers and the students, unfortunately, become advocates of corruption.
The consequence of exam malpractice cannot be overemphasized. Apart from further tainting the education sector, it seeks to contradict the whole affective domain of learning in education which is meant to instil appropriate behaviours and culture in students throughout their entire course of learning.
To say the least, it also generates reluctance in students especially at their prime when they should acquaint themselves with serious studying more than ever.
Therefore, rather than doling out the blame to one group, it is best to investigate examination malpractice and correct the wrongs at all levels starting with the exam bodies down to the students.