Be­fore ex­am­i­na­tion mal­prac­tice con­sumes our fu­ture

The Punch - - EDITORIAL -

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.

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