By Jerry Madubueze
Education in Nigeria has suffered a lot of setbacks in recent times, with challenges such as lack of qualified personnel, inadequate educational facilities, wrong curriculum and policies, inadequate funding and so many others. Different governments have tried different measures to correct this anomaly but to no avail. Also, suggestions from different quarters have suggested certain moves; all, yielding no positive results. Education is supposed to be an important tool for nation building but has not been given adequate attention it deserves with teachers’ welfare not well taken care of, sector lacking proper funds, public schools lacking proper infrastructure for stimulating learning, as well as lacking proper monitoring of exam bodies.
One of the biggest threats to Nigeria’s educational development is the rate at which examination malpractice has been embraced by all and sundry in Nigeria. People no longer see it as a crime, both young and old alike. It is now a scourge that has eaten from as low as primary to as high as tertiary institutions. The situation is so bad that even the mass media is employed to advertise “examination malpractice.” You see schools calling for people to register and pass exams at one sitting. Is passing exams that easy? People freely discuss how they cheated to pass these exams. Some centres go as far as photocopying answers and distributing to students to copy or copy on the board. Little wonder these people find it hard to pass ordinary post-JAMB or UTME examinations to universities and polytechnics and they pass WAEC and NECO with five (5) credits including mathematics and English.
In recent times, students of public schools run to private schools to register for WAEC and NECO. What is disheartening is how much people pay– which I found out during my survey and accompanied by “I cannot afford to fail.” Exams that are supposed to be between #5000 and #7000, people pay between #25,000 to N60,000. In fact, some classes are “A-classes” for those desiring distinctions as well as those who won’t be available to write these exams at their centres. The system is, your class determines your grade.
The situation in higher institutions is not any better even as different means have been developed to aid this nefarious act. People bring in materials as well as phones and other telecommunication gadgets. Some have even gone as far as getting questions before exams with the lecturers’ support either by threatening the lecturers (that is for cultists), giving cash or ladies giving their bodies to gain favour. All these constitute examination malpractice. Even more astonishing is the fact that diabolical means is also used. What would be responsible for this? Why do we embrace this vice that would destroy virtually all sectors of the economy?
After some critical research, I discovered that parents, teachers, government, employers and other regulations and examination bodies are to be blamed. These groups have their parts to play at various levels. Parents who are supposed to teach moral culture and show leadership examples end up encouraging this. You begin to wonder what’s wrong with our value system. These parents pay these exorbitant fees and sometimes go to prayer or miracle houses seeking spiritual help rather than helping their wards build a study culture. They forget what the Bible says in Psalms 11:3, “if the foundation be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Our parents, please help save our future.
Governments in their lackadaisical attitude towards policy formulation and implementation in the sector are also major contributors to this scourge. Some of these government officials are also part of this. Also, the nonchalance of government to the growth of private schools in our cities and villages also does harm as these schools are in this business and would go to any length to ensure their students pass their examinations. Government’s lack of proper monitoring of our public schools or support in terms of infrastructure is contributory.
Also, government as the major employer of labour is guilty of encouraging this vice as paper qualification has been given more emphasis than knowledge of work or skill. This makes most students desperate and pay more attention to passing their exams than gaining knowledge. Although, setting standard is good to encourage hard work, but it should not be the only yardstick for employment. Also, the inability to stop the discrimination between university and polytechnic graduates has also bred a fertile ground for exam theft. Little wonder, students employ fraudulent means to pass examinations to be admitted into the university.
WAEC, NECO, JAMB and other exam bodies also have a share of the blame. They do not take proper check of exam centres and sanctions for ailing schools. These malpractices are done in such a way that traces can be found if properly researched into but for the moral decadence in our nation, even the so called invigilators and supervisors are bought by the school authorities and this makes it really hard to control and curb.
For us to tackle this menace, government must take deliberate and urgent steps, like taking education seriously. Laws must be put in place to punish defaulters of examination malpractice; both the school and students alike. Programs and policies that will redirect our educational sector must be put in place. The welfare of teachers must be taken care of so they can give their best at the job. Necessary infrastructure needed to stimulate learning should be put in place in our public schools and counselors that would advise students to choose the right course of study.
Rebranding Nigerian education has to start from ensuring eradication of exam theft and providing an atmosphere not conducive for perpetrators of this act. Also, parents must discourage their children from partaking in exam fraud; play their God-given roles of raising children with good morals that will be tomorrow’s leaders. This struggle is for all, JAMB or UTME, WAEC, NECO, government, proprietors, police and all citizens of Nigeria. Let us fight examination malpractice and report all cases of exam fraud. Parents should stop forcing their wards to courses that are not their choices. When the right thing is done, the right result will be achieved.
By Jerry Madubueze