- Schools/parents’ complacency, loss of values, others as major causes
EKSG: We’ve set up remedial colleges, unified promotion exam to tackle menace
WAEC: All hands must be on deck to sanitise the system
The challenge of tackling the menace of examination malpractice, an albatross, threatening the school system and the delivery of qualitative education has assumed a major concern for stakeholders. ADEWUMI ADEMIJU writes
Apart from the crises of dilapidated school structures, students sitting and learning on dust infested floors under trees and sheds, lack of furniture, poor sanitary facilities and acute shortage of qualified teachers, among others, confronting the nation’s school system with attendant high rate of out-of-school children, the nagging issue of examination malpractice has continued to raise concerns among stakeholders.
In the 2022 May/June West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) for School Candidates results released recently, the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) withheld the results on 365,564 candidates, representing 22.83 per cent of the over total 1.6 million candidates that sat for the examination.
The results were withheld, according to the examination body, in connection with various reported cases of examination offences, ranging mainly from malpractice to other sundry misconducts by the candidates, schools and supervisors/ examiners. Over 10 supervisors were said to have been arrested or nabbed by the Council across the federation for sharp practices in the examination.
Also, in the 2021 WASSCE for School Candidates, the results of 170,146 candidates, representing 10.9 per cent of the total candidates traced to examination malpractice were withheld in line with the examination
body’s policy to deal with cheating in its examinations. These untoward activities, New Telegraph investigations are not limited to external secondary school examinations alone.
Similarly, the authorities of the Bayero University, Kano recently expelled no fewer than 33 undergraduates of the institution for examination malpractice and other misconduct during the second semester of 2021/2022 academic session, contrary to the university’s Standing Order and Code of Conduct. Also, the management of Aminu Dabo College of Health Science and Technology (AD-COHST), Kano rusticated 12 students in January, this year; while Nasarawa State College of Education in Akwanga expelled 23 students for similar offences.
At the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), Abeokuta in Ogun State, no fewer than 90 students of the institution were expelled a few months ago for their involvement in examination malpractice.
However, the numerous forms of examination malpractice, ranging from “rogue website operations/miracle centres; sex-for-mark; increasing use of cell phones in the examination hall; copying/cheating; aiding and abetting by parents, schools and examination supervisors/invigilators; to over-reliance on expo by candidates, among others, have become the trends in the reported cases during examinations.
Meanwhile, education pundits and stakeholders lament the unabated spate of the menace in the school system, have attributed this to complacency on the part of some parents, teachers and schools, preference on certificate qualification by employers of labour, even as they also blamed it on absence of good parental upbringing, loss of societal values and norms for excellence and integrity, laziness on the part of students, peer pressure, lack of study materials, low self-esteem, poor quality teaching and inadequate study materials.
Measures to combat menace
For instance, despite various strategies and sanctions put in place by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and others, including WAEC, NECO, universities and schools to forestall examination malpractice in its examinations, cases of malpractice involving the candidates and students who are bent on manipulating their marks, are still thriving in the school system.
Faced with this development, the fight against examination malpractice and other forms of misconduct have been deepened with several measures put in place to curb the menace.
For instance, WAEC, which has continually frowned over examination malpractice due to poor preparation of candidates for examinations, has vowed to continue to sanction the use of cell phones in the examination halls in spite of the existing ban, use of miracle centres/rogue website operators, and all cases of examination malpractice in its examinations.
Part of the sanctions by the WAEC is the outright cancellation of results of candidates proved to be culpable in involving the evil act. To give its examinations and results integrity, WAEC, however, said that schools, supervisors, teachers and candidates perpetrating this evil are not helping the education system, as “it is the child whose future is being destroyed.”
Therefore, the Council warned parents and other stakeholders to desist or stop funding ‘expo’ for their children, saying that the beneficiaries of such ‘help,’ will never go unpunished as such candidates will never have their results. “All hands must be on deck to sanitise the system. The increasing use of cell phones in examination halls in spite of the ban, and organised cheating in some schools, are other nagging issues.
Those who indulge in posting items designated platforms are nothing but destiny destroyers,” the Council stated. Speaking further, the Head of the Nigeria National Office (HNO) of WAEC, Mr. Patrick Areghan blamed parents for their complacency in aiding and abetting malpractices, saying a situation whereby parents take their children from schools to the remote areas where they think WAEC officials or education inspectors would not come with intention to cheat, is unfortunately.
“WAEC has a monitoring system to checkmate any form of malpractices, we have app used in detecting cheating, and we administer appropriate discipline,” has stated, explaining that further that as far back as 1980 leakage as applicable to examination at this level is a bogus thing.
Stating that once there is leakage such question papers might not be administered, except for credibility, he noted that part of the methods used by the examination body in curtailing examination malpractice is a tool that monitors movement of people, supervisors and students during examinations.
“We give specifications to WAEC examiners; we have some seasoned examiners who do not mark for monetary gains, as malpractice in examination becomes glaring during marking and candidates found cheating their results are withheld for proper investigation by the WAEC standing committee on that purpose, comprising lecturers and education directors, who in the course of their investigations give us the outcomes and the Council acts on such accordingly,” Areghan added.
As part of the sanctions, several schools had been barred or derecognised from participating in WAEC examinations for certain numbers of years, while invigilators and supervisors found guilty of malpractice and blacklisted and other appropriate sanction, such as legal prosecution are meted out to them.
Worried by the trends, its challenges and threat posed to the delivery of quality education, Ekiti State government in its avowed determination to tackle the menace of examination malpractice headlong in the state’s school system, has embarked on measures that would curtail, if not totally eliminate the evil act.
Towards this end, the government said one of the strategies was the establishment of Remedial Colleges across the state to eliminate the so-called ‘miracle centres, as well as introduction of Unified Promotion Examination for students in SS 2 class before they could be allowed to write SSCE.
Also, the state government said some necessary steps, such as appropriate sanction to rid the menace from the sector had been put in place, a part of the remedial colleges to combat the challenges of examination malpractice and restore sanity into the examination system.
Speaking with New Telegraph, the state Commissioner for Education, Dr. Olabimpe Aderiye, noted that the establishment of remedial colleges in the state would avail the students who want to resit their Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) after the failed attempt(s) the opportunity to register and do so under proper monitoring.
The Commissioner said: “Before now there used to be mock examinations for which students are promoted to the final class, but today the Ekiti State government has introduced and embarked on SS2 Unified Promotion Examination for public and private schools.
So, under this initiative, whoever is not a student cannot come and take our examinations. “There are several reasons for examination malpractices, and majorly some students are not serious about going to school and attending lessons, but they want to sit for examinations. If someone does not go to school, what happens; it is either he or she failed or resorted to cheating in the examination.
So, in an attempt to curb this unholy act, the state government introduced the Unified Examination for Mock and Continuous Assessment.” To restore sanity into the school system, the Commissioner spoke of how the state government ordered the closure of some schools operating in ‘Miracle Centres,’ adding that “Ekiti state is against miracle centres, and that was why some schools were shut down and also some schools were not allowed to register their students for SSCE.
This happened this year and they were not allowed to register their students if there was no evidence that students wrote our SS2 examination to confirm that they are bonafide students.
“Even, if a candidate fails, we already know there is a window for a normal student and that is the May/JUNE WASSCE. And, for private students whether a worker or student who wants to retake the examination there is the November/December Diet and the window for NECO SSCE is also available.
“What we also did is separating those that are not actual students from other students. We established remedial colleges to ensure that we curb miracle centres in the state, and when we discovered that students at the remedial colleges were not attending classes, but only want to register for WAEC, the state government decided to match them with the regular government schools so that whoever is not a student and who does not attend classes is not registered through the state Ministry of Education.
“So, since the measures to mitigate against examination malpractice have been put in place, whoever is not a bonafide and duly registered student, and who did not take the SS2 Unified Examination will not be registered for WASSCE. So, there is no way any official or school can make undue compromises in the process. “And, with these measures every loophole for such compromise from any quarters is totally curtailed.”
Speaking on the development, the Head, Directorate of Information and Corporate Affairs of the Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti (EKSU), Bode Olofinmuagun, said the university has zero tolerance for examination misconduct and other malfeasance.
Towards this end, he recalled that the university had put in place a number of committees at various levels – departmental, faculty and university – to curb the menace. He said: “Awareness campaigns on examination malpractice and other misconduct usually begin as soon as students resume into the university during the orientation programme.
All forms of misconduct, including examination malpractice and the associated punishment are listed in the Students’ Handbook, which is provided for all fresh students at the point of registration. “But, any culprit is given fair hearing, trial and taken through due process. No doubt, the measures put in place have resulted in drastic reduction of cases relating to examination misconduct in the university.”
Recounting his experience, a secondary school leaver, who identified himself simply as Feyisetan, who completed his secondary school education three years ago, but yet to pass the WASSCE, recalled how he was introduced to a tutorial centre, popularly known as “miracle centre” in Ado-Ekiti with the assurance of obtaining good grades.
He said: “At the miracle centre, no fewer than nine schools from different parts of the state write their examination in the centres. Normally, registration for NECO, which is not more than N13,500, at the centre costs between N45,000 and N71,000, depending on the candidate’s subjects and the school that brought the student for registration at the centre.
“A candidate pay another N3,000 to rent a uniform, while on the day of examination we contribute N500 to the invigilator, and on day of compulsory subjects, such as Mathematics, English, Civic, Physics, Chemistry and Biology, among others, we contribute N2,000 per candidate for hitch free examination.”
Meanwhile, stakeholders have alleged lack of children’s proper upbringing as the bane of various misconducts in schools, even as they blamed the major causes of examination malpractice on absence of culture of excellence and loss of societal values, as some parents had already neglected their expected roles in proper upbringing of their children and wards.
Reacting, a secondary school teacher in the state and a WAEC examiner, Babatunde Afolabi, blamed the act mostly on indiscipline and declining societal values in all strata of the Nigerian society, even as he expressed regrets that “the crime is being committed in schools in different ways as a result of lack of stringent rules for which students must be strictly adhered like it was before till mid-80s.”
“These rules were guided jealously by the teachers and obeyed by students with the help of parents in actualising the regulations. Besides, the parental upbringing that time also went a long way in instilling fear of teachers in the minds of students,” he explained.
According to him, less than 60 per cent of parents nowadays buy textbooks and other school materials for their children. So, how could such students pass the examination; even when some children immediately after school go back home to hawk for their parents only to come back in the evening?
How do we expect such children to have the time to study; lack of parents’ responsibility for their children’s proper upbringing is another challenge.
The situation is worse nowadays as some students contract their lesson works out for other students to do for them for a certain amount of money.