Examination malpractice is nothing new in Nigeria or other countries. However, earlier this year, we saw through the BBC, a new dimension to cheating in faraway India. While most malpractices are usually perpetrated in secrecy, this episode was in broad day light. Parents and family friends were scaling the school wall in order to get prepared answers to their wards in the examination hall. According to reports, there are stiff penalties for examination malpractice such as perpetrators being banned from taking an exam for some three years; however this seems not to be sufficient to deter students from involving themselves in the vice.
In Nigeria, examination is not much different. Examination malpractice in Nigeria occurs as a result of collusion between schools, parents and students. In some cases, examination supervisors from examination bodies have also joined the party.
While several results have been canceled due to examination malpractices and some schools banned from conducting examination due to the same offence, there are no records where the law has been fully activate against offending individuals or institutions.
Frankly, examination malpractice is a reflection of the society where they are being perpetrated. It is also a question of the moral codes of exchange in communities and places where those practices are prevalent. Therefore, if we must address the problem of examination malpractice from the root, three things are priority amongst many. First is strengthening morals in families and communities, then establishing clearly defined laws and implementable penalties for engaging in the examination malpractice.
Finally, name and shame, and public awareness.
Morals in Families and Communities:
This is the responsibility of the family as a place where basic moral codes for living are learned. Every family owes themselves and the nation the responsibility of demonstrating to their wards the importance of good morals and proper conduct in the society. There should be a clear defining ground between what is good and what is bad. This includes revealing examination
malpractices as nothing but cheating. So, if cheating is a bad act, so also is examination malpractice. Families must teach that engaging in examination malpractice rings reputational damage to the name of the family as well as the individuals involved.
Laws and implementable penalties
While the society may rely on the family to imbibe good morals in their wards, there must be clearly defined laws on examination malpractice. It is possible that this currently exists in some forms, what I am not sure is how
up-to-date and well-defined the laws are. Students should also be made to read the applicable law and append their signature before the beginning of an examination, this would serve as in the spot reminder in case they are not aware.
Equal, supervisors who collude with students, schools and parents should be made to do same. A functioning law with implementable penalties would go a long way to deter perpetrators. I must also add that this law must give room for fair hearing and necessary evidence presented to clear or establish cases of malpractices.
Name-and-Shame and Public Awareness.
Lastly, anyone (school –principal or teachers, supervisor, student) caught in the act of examination malpractices should made to go through what I call “name-and-shame” and possibly their name entered into a black book call hall of shame. The shaming can take different forms, however the intention is to sound a note of warning that is a crime to cheat.
If people see names of cheats in “name-and-shame” lists, they will take lessons, prepare properly for examinations and conduct themselves orderly in the examination hall. There should also be constant awareness programmes in schools about the danger of examination malpractices. Particularly, that relying on examination malpractices reduces the capacity to think and proffer solutions to problems, even personal challenges later in life.
This awareness should take place every term in the academic year with some fanfare around the event. The larger society, particularly parents and NGOs should be involved in creating awareness. Competitions such as essay writing and prizes should be part of what would encourage participation. All of these is to ensure there is constant education on the need to engage in examination without undue advantage over others and the system. The offshoot of examination malpractices is corruptions and misappropriation of funds. The ability to curb it at an early stage would go a long way to create a just and morally sound society.