Before examination malpractice consumes our future
RECENTLY, I was privileged to invigilate some students in a public university in the South-west during their second semester examination. The atrocities that I witnessed are better imagined. Without mincing words, examination malpractice has reached an alarming level; it is a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabric of our educational system. It made me weep for this generation. It is disheartening to see firsthand that the youth are no more interested in learning or taking their studies seriously; they’d rather waste their precious time on social media. My experience has validated the claims of those who affirm that the standard of education has fallen very badly in our nation. I was further befuddled when a few of the lecturers who were present shared with me their experiences with teaching these students.
One of them, a female lecturer, told me that the exam questions were exactly the same as their continuous assessment test. Besides, she also organised a revision class for the students all in a bid to assist them in preparing adequately for the exam. To her greatest shock and surprise, while about 30 students attended both the regular and revision classes, no fewer than 120 turned up for the examination.what exactly do these students want?another male lecturer told me he had prepared 60 question papers for a particular course based on the number of students that attended his lectures. Lo and behold, over 160 students turned up for the examination.just to clear his doubt, he engaged some of the identified absentee students randomly and asked them if they knew the lecturer that took the course. He wasn’t surprised when none of them could recognise him as the lecturer. He said one even argued with him that the lecturer is female.and if you care to know, these are 100 level students. Yet, they have already imbibed the corruption that has pervaded our tertiary education. What this shows clearly is that these students had become familiar with this negative habit from secondary school.
Rather than prepare well for their examination, these students were evidently busy devising ingenious methods of perpetrating exam malpractice. The level of ingenuity they displayed in cheating during the exam was so amazing that it would leave you wondering why they could not apply the same to their studies. But there is no doubt that they have been brought up with short cut mentality. They have been misled with the now popular mantra that that ‘working smart’ is now a substitute for working hard, while totally ignoring the need to first acquire the necessary academic or vocational foundation. I witnessed some of the weirdest things ever with students writing answers on their tummies and laps, while some saved answers on their electronic wristwatches.
What I saw got me really disturbed. There is no doubt our children,especially teenagers, need help. We must take proactive steps to rescue them from this spectre of self-destruction. How do we make them appreciate the virtue in hard work? Our children have lost the appetite for reading; how do we bring this back? How do we encourage them to make reading a lifestyle so that it becomes a part of them? They must be trained to find pleasure in reading, rather than seeing it as punishment or necessary evil.
Government too must create an environment that is conducive to learning, instead of the current situation where hundreds of students are parked in a class that is barely large enough for thirty yet with inadequate furniture and ventilation.this kind of environment will no doubt make learning uninteresting and uninspiring.
Charity, they say, begins at home; therefore, parents should be positive role models to their children. They must strive to inculcate positive moral and values in them. Unfortunately, these days, many parents have been found to encourage their children to partake in examination malpractice. Some even procure various dubious aids for their wards, including paying for special exam centres, otherwise known as miracle centres, where it is guaranteed that students will be assisted during exams. Some also hire ‘mercenaries’ to take exams for their children. I once had a discussion with the principal of a school where I undertook my industrial attachment while studying for my diploma certificate in education. This lady told me one of the major reasons for the school’s relatively low student population was because most parents prefer to take their children to one of these so-called special centres.
During the 2018 General Certificate Examination (GCE) held in October, my teenage son who sat for the exam shared stories of how students whose parents had apparently paid special fees, as well as those that could afford to pay on the spot, were moved from the main exam hall to another classroom to take their own paper. This practice continued every day till he finished his exam. One of his classmates also confided in him that her mother had already paid for all her subjects in the same examination. Perhaps, the emphasis our society has laid on paper certificate at the detriment of the content of the individual’s brain is a major contributor to the growing rate of exam malpractice. There may be need for us to reappraise our priorities in this regard.
Examination malpractice has no doubt become so pervasive and commonplace that government and policymakers in education need to focus more attention on it. I recommend a systematic reorientation of the populace using the national Orientation Agency and the mass media for this purpose. Also, subjects like Civic Education should be given better priority in our education curricula. Examination bodies also should do more to ensure the enforcement of the relevant section of the 1999 constitution which stipulates a fine of N100,000 or three to four years’ imprisonment for examination malpractice. This will certainly serve as a deterrent.
•Bukoladeremi Ladigbolu, Lagos.