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Examination malpractice: Causes, effects and way out

Examination malpractice: Causes, effects and way out

By Mercy Omoyeme
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It is no doubt, a verifiable fact, that one of the leading factors that retard educational growth of any nation remains examination malpractice and my dear country, Nigeria, is not left out.

This menace, also known as cheating is defined as a deliberate act of wrong doing, that negates the rules of examinations designed to give a candidate an unfair advantage over others.

Virtually all levels of education in Nigeria is affected by this worrisome menace. It cuts across the primary schools, the secondary and up to the higher institutions of learning. Of a truth, It has become the order of the day. Generally, examination malpractice destroys the academic world.

This means students can obtain a certificate without gaining knowledge. This phenomenon makes the learning process unfair.

People cheat in practically every human endeavour where there is competition, so it is not unexpected that people would attempt to cheat at examinations.

Notwithstanding, it should not be encouraged by anyone or ignored and allowed to continue in schools or wherever examinations are conducted.

Most embarrassing is the emergence of ‘Miracle centres’ which are located in remote areas especially in the villages where malpractice is perpetrated.

These are centres where candidates register for mercenaries who would sit and write such examination on behalf of the original candidate. In most cases, the mercenaries would hide inside the bush or a place very close to the exam hall where the candidate will smuggle out the question papers for them to solve.

Often times, the question papers are smuggled out with the connivance of the invigilators who have been tipped by the candidates .

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Government at all levels need to do more in ensuring that these so-called ‘Miracle Centres’ are delisted as this would go a long way in checkmating the spread of examination malpractice in Nigeria.

Examination malpractice has many effects on students, teachers, educational institutions and the educational system as a whole. For example, students who engage in examination malpractice are more likely to be dishonest in other aspect of their lives.

Majority of them end up stealing or even cheating at work. Students are adversely affected even after graduation.

The school certificate is an important document in the labour market. Nigerian employers rely on it as a proof of student’s knowledge and abilities.

However, due to examination malpractice, not everyone who has a diploma  possesses the required or relevant skills.

Due to the high rate of exam malpractice, employers cannot rely on the certificate to tell them who deserves the job and who doesn’t.

This explains why a lot of them are afraid to pay new graduates the salary they deserve because they do not have confidence in their skills. Consequently, academic dishonesty adversely affects everyone, even decent students.

Besides the above effects, examination malpractice in Nigeria can also have a negative impact on the reputation of the institution.

Institutions affected by scandals associated with deception may become less attractive to potential sponsors, prospective students and potential employers. In other words, universities with a low level of examination malpractice can use their reputation to attract new students and employers.

In curbing or reducing this festering monster to the barest level, the same seriousness applied in fighting other kinds of fraud, like corruption, should be applied in combating examination fraud, for those who cheat at examinations are most likely going to cheat in other areas they find themselves in future.

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When such is done, students would be forced to work hard for their grades and that would not only prepare them for their academic career, but also develop them as future leaders who would enthrone integrity and hard work in the larger society.

Also, proper training of teachers is very germane towards curbing examination malpractices. When teachers are properly trained and paid, this would enable them impart the required knowledge into the students in the most understandable manner.

Consequently, students will understand well and be confident enough to write examinations without having to cheat.

In the same vein, schools should have Guidance Counselors, who can counsel these students and help them find solution to their inability to learn.

If they are properly counseled, students will be willing to spend more time on their studies and also perform excellently during examinations without having to indulge in any form of examination malpractice.

Guidance and Counselors should also help these students discover their areas of competence as many of them offer subjects they have no passion for. This also compel them to involve in examination malpractice because they could hardly assimilate what they are being taught.

Even in the just concluded Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) exam which was Computer Test Based, a high level of malpractice, mainly impersonation, was recorded which led to the cancellation of many results from centres involved, not only that, it led to the delay in releasing results from other centres, but the good news was that over a hundred of those involved were arrested and are facing trials.

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This seems to be the first time JAMB would make such arrests and I hope the body would keep it up as it would serve as a deterrent to others in subsequent examinations.

There are many other causes of examination malpractice like Peer Pressure. There are some students who are not interested in this ungodly act, but are lured through bad influence from friends which become part of them as soon as they embrace it.

Government on their part should endeavour to pay teachers’ salaries as and when due, as failure to do this, in most cases, leaves invigilators who are mainly teachers with no choice than to take bribes from desperate candidates who are ready to indulge in the act.

Parental factors too, contribute in no small way to the menace. Even when some parents fail to provide the necessary support needed by their children to record success during examinations, they would still mount pressures on such children to fly. This might compel such children to cheat as they would want to impress their parents.

I believe creating an agency that would be saddled with the responsibility of fighting against examination malpractice, adequate preparation before and during exams, timely payment of teacher’s/lecturers’ salaries, conducive learning environment and above all, inculcating morals and the fear of God in these children will go a long way in reducing the spread of this evil in our society.

Omoyeme writes from Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo (RUGIPO).

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