Despite the law in place, WINIFRED OGBEBO writes that examination malpractices across the country have continued unabated.
That the standard of our education has fallen or is falling is no more news. This has been blamed on several factors, ranging from government not funding education enough to lack of dedication on the part of teachers which is an offshoot of poor remuneration, parents not showing enough commitment to the education of their children, lack of infrastructure and students themselves not showing seriousness in their academic pursuit.
Across the country, the effect of the neglect on the part of all concerned is so much evident. In the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), National Examination Council (NECO), National Business and Technical Examination Board (NABTEB), students have become more daring in perpetuating examination fraud.
In the universities today, it’s no longer out of place for students to “sort” lecturers in order to get good grades.
Despite the stringent law in place, every year, we see more and more people subscribing to the anomaly, from the primary to the tertiary level of education. More worrisome is the report that parents are now bribing invigilators to help their children with their examinations. It’s certainly not out of place to say that it has become more sophisticated and the practitioners, more daring.
Speaking recently at the West African Examination Council (WAEC) 65th annual meeting in Abuja, registrar to council, Dr Iyi Uwadiae, lamented that examination malpractices had remained a major source of distraction for the examination body as its scourge had persisted in member countries of the council.
He said candidates and parents were colluding with educators to commit examination fraud, pointing out that misguided candidates ferociously seek short cut to examination success while their depraved adults/collaborators carry out their damnable acts for financial rewards.
Noting that the consequences of examination malpractices on educational institutions especially the examining bodies are grave and worrisome, the registrar said the council had continued to utilize every available means and opportunity to discourage the die-hard perpetrators of the malaise.
He said, “Appeals have also gone to stakeholders in education, particularly, our member countries to partner WAEC more seriously in the fight against the cankerworm which threatens the quality of academic attainments and manpower production in our sub-region.”
Uwadiae said apart from the damage done to the image, credibility and reputation of the council, which wastes the meager resources in its fight against the evil, the panacea for examination malpractice was bound within the society if the country could show sincere commitment to its eradication.
Also, the chairperson of council, who is from the Republic of Liberia, Dr Evelyn Kandakai noted that in each of the member-countries that WAEC conducts exams, it is bedeviled with poor performance in the activities of its enforcers.
She said the poor performance of candidates in the public exams had remained germane and worrisome to stakeholders.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo attributed the malaise to loss of values and ethics in the society and posed quite a number of questions: “What does educational success require today? What does it mean to be educated? What do we, as examiners, for example, look out for as a measure of performance?”
He said, “Traditionally, philosophies of education have focused on what we should teach and that of course, is crucial. However, it’s much more important today, to emphasise also, how we should teach. It should also impact how we should examine and how we should question the output and what we should be looking for in our students.
“But regarding what we should teach, it’s my humble view, more important now than ever before, to redefine success. What is success? Today, the acquisition of wealth, power and educational attainment of power or influence is a mark of success, which necessarily isn’t a bad thing except that we are no longer concerned with the process or means of attaining success.
“The end, it appears today justifies the means which explains why cheating in exams and fake certificate simply do not generate the sort of outrage that such conduct would have generated years ago.
“Often, cheating is with the collusion of parents and teachers. But this only reflects the larger failures of values in our society. Public servants and many in the private sector who have unexplainable phenomenal wealth are celebrated in one form or the other, alumni recognition, honorary degrees, chieftaincy titles and even higher religious titles.”
According to the vice president, when values in the society have collapsed or upturned, the role of the educator and the role of the policy maker is completely different from when values are maintained by and large.
“What we find is that we are almost pretending that values are still where they are because the way we develop policy, and the way we teach assume that values are exactly where they were, perhaps 65 years ago. But that’s not the case as you and I know.
“So it’s a challenge of our generation and time as educators and policy makers to set a moral and ethical standard that will define standard of integrity, integrity of the means by which success is attained and what it means to be successful even if it means using and developing curricular,” he pointed out.
Osinbajo tasked educators and policy makers to develop teaching materials that would include critical thinking and product solving to reinstate values and ethics in the society, adding “somehow, we must break through the false notion that success is obtainable by miracles and not hard work.”
He said in developing curricular, one must and could not avoid teaching young people, planning organizational collaboration, and team work ethics, pointing out that “no matter how knowledgeable people are, if they cannot plan, if they cannot work together, if they don’t have the right ethics in all of their education, it’s practically useless. Regardless of how we teach, this is fundamental.”
Meanwhile, the WAEC registrar said existing government legislations should be enforced or where necessary, new ones promulgated against examination fraud.
He cautioned parents to desist from encouraging and sponsoring fraud for their wards but endeavour to make adequate provisions for them to benefit from the learning process.
“School authorities and parents teachers association should cut the era of impunity for their staff and members who engage in examination malpractice. Guidance and counseling experts should redouble their efforts at building self confidence in school children as part of their preparation for public examination.
“Religious institutions should constantly admonish their congregations against involvement in fraud while community leaders should show resentment of perpetration of examination irregularities in their domains. Equipping of schools and teachers welfare should receive priority attention from government to reduce temptation while the mass media should consistently place the menace of exam malpractice on the agenda for national discourse,” he pleaded.