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STEMMING EXAMINATION MALPRACTICES AND ENHANCING EXAMINATIONS INTEGRITY Okunola, O.M. PhD, Odeleye, O.A. & Odeleye, D.A.

, PhD Abstract Universally, examinations have become a strong tool for assessing achievement and they remain the major means of identifying and appointing qualified individuals for specific roles and positions. In Nigeria, too much value is placed on the possession of certificates rather than on the acquisition of requisite knowledge and skills. The craze for certification has engulfed the Nigerian society and has left on it an over-reliance on paper qualifications. This overdependence on certification coupled with the get-rich-quick syndrome, has led people to either acquire certificates legitimately or otherwise, thus placing a clog in the wheels of our progress as a nation. The typical undergraduate is no longer concerned about how much knowledge and skill to be garnered from the ivory tower. Her main preoccupation is to obtain the certificate! Thus, the thrust of this paper is to attempt a synopsis of examination malpractices in Nigeria with suggestions for moral and cultural rebirth of our nation. Leaders at all tiers of education must not only be seen to prepare and deliver excellent speeches, they must begin to set the pace for others to follow. We must begin to do things right to enhance the integrity of our educational system! It is the contention of these authors that Nigeria possesses both human and natural resources to place it amongst the top 20 economies in the world by 2010. The Nigerian nation is at the precipice of economic recovery if government, the political leadership and other stakeholders would embrace repentance and moral reorientation.

Key Words: Enhancing, Integrity, Examinations, Malpractices

Introduction Since examinations are considered as instruments for making objective and neutral judgements about candidates, they are used as means to distribute limited opportunities for study, employment and promotion at work. Credentials serve as testimonials of accomplishment, substantiated as diplomas and certificates, and are relied upon as significant proof of achievement. Thus, the desire for placement into schools and job positions has compelled many an individual to engage in untoward activities in getting the requisite certification. According to Oredein (on line), examination malpractice is any wrongdoing before, during or after any examination. Shaman et al (1990) opined that examination malpractice is an unlawful behaviour or activity students engage in to gain better placement in an examination over their colleagues writing the same examination. However, reviewed literatures show that malpractices in examination have been in existence over a period of time, not only in Nigeria but all over the world. Eckstein (On line) noted that as far back as the seventeenth century, when examinations for entry into the Imperial Chinese Civil Service was conducted, candidates who sat for this oldest known national, public examinations, were said to have smuggled notes into the examination hall. He opined that academic fraud is on the increase in both the developed and the developing countries. Ruwa (1997) traced examination malpractice in Nigeria back to 1914, when the question papers of the senior Cambridge local examination leaked. From that period to date, examination malpractices have assumed more advanced, indeed more

sophisticated dimensions. Legislation has been passed to discourage this behaviour, but as in a handful of Nigerian public policies, enforcement has not been seen to be done in addressing the problem. It has been suggested that the brain drain that commenced in the mid 1980s took its toll on the quality of education service delivery, thus resulted in the lowering of standards at virtually every tier of education. With the harsh ambient environment, young university graduates were busy jostling for high-brow jobs with multinationals and banks to the detriment of assistantships and teaching positions in tertiary institutions and secondary schools respectively. With high incidence of youth unemployment and increased enrolment in schools at all levels, gaining admission into the next level of education has become highly competitive. It is becoming increasingly difficult for candidates to get admission into the university even though Nigeria today boasts of ninety three (93) universities. This has led to wide spread cheating in examinations; indeed, people do just anything to pass examinations!

Causes of Examination Malpractices The Nigerian body polity is bedevilled with so many ills and these ills have crept into the education system and examination malpractices could be seen as by-product of these societal ills. According to Eckstein (On line), there are subjective and objective causes of examination malpractices. The subjective causes are said to be attitudinal and individual. This includes the circumstances, ambitions and competitive energies of the individual in academic life. The objective causes are pressures from external forces, family and the society.

Eckstein (On line), Bunza (1993), Gbenedio (1993) in Oredein (On line) suggested the following as possible reasons for examination malpractices: (a) Overcrowding in the school for example, a ratio of 1 teacher to 85 100 pupils is simply unacceptable (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) (g) (h) (i) (j) (k) (l) (m) (n) (o) (p) Limited number of qualified teachers Inadequate teaching and learning facilities, which made students ill-equipped for the examinations Parental contributions. For example, some parents pay for live papers, and hire people to sit for examination on behalf of their wards. Immorality in the wider society, Inadequate supervision of teachers by inspectors Poor teaching styles, inadequate tutelage and non-completion of syllabus before examination. Tying of promotion of teachers to success of candidates at public examinations, Absence of guidance and counselling services in schools, Lack of confidence on the part of teachers and students, High enrolment fees, The desire to be successful at all costs. Constant closure of schools, Over-emphasis on examinations and certification, Non-provision of extra curricular activities, Family values and traditional loyalties to favour family members, socially or political allies in an exam. Forms of Examination Malpractices There are different dimensions to examination malpractices and often times, students keep devising new ones. According to researchers like Ogunu (1992) Ivowi (1993) Imogie (1993) Denga and Denga (1998) in Oredein (On line), the major forms are: Collusion: This is a situation where two or more candidates agree to receive or give assistance to each other. If it is verbal, this is called ECOMOG or ECOWAS. It is

opined that collusion may involve exchange of scripts, passing notes for help from outside and inside the hail; delaying commencement of examination in one centre to obtain question paper from nearby centre which has started, collusion, arising from bribes or threat to the lives and/or property of supervisors. Impersonation: A candidate sits for an examination in place of another candidate, thereby pretending to be the real candidate. Undergraduates sit for Universities Matriculation Examination (U.M.E) for students seeking admission to University while graduate youth corpers as well as some undergraduate students impersonate in internal university examinations. Smuggling of answer scripts and foreign materials into examination hall : This is a situation where students bring into the examination hall notes, textbooks, and other prepared materials. Examination Leakage: This is a societal malaise through which security agents, printers and staff of examination bodies sell question papers. Mass Cheating: Candidates in an examination hall are massively involved in several of the irregularities mentioned. Insult / Assault on Examination Officials: Candidates sometimes insult supervising officials during examination sessions. The aim is to distract them from effective supervision, so that they can have a way to cheat. Irregular Activities Inside and outside the Examination Hall. These activities include: (i)Stealing, converting, substituting or misappropriating the scripts of other candidates.

(ii) Substituting of scripts during or after an examination. (iii) Refusals to submit answer script at the end of examination (iv) Seeking and receiving helps from other candidates. Electronically assisted malpractices: Recent development has revealed that students make use of electronic gadgets to cheat during examinations, gadgets like scientific calculators, organizers, compact disc and mobile phones. Contractors: This refers to those who give assistance (educational stakeholders) to candidates in one way or the other to help pass examinations outside the norm. These include examination stakeholders such as parents, teachers, lecturers, supervisors, security agents, printers and staff of examination bodies. Some parents go to any length in buying question papers for their children while some others even buy certificates for their children. Supervisors colluding with teachers, school principals or students by allowing teachers to come around to teach the students during the examination period; lecturers or teachers releasing question papers or giving underserved marks or allowing students to illegally re-take examination papers. Inscription: Students inscribe information on materials, parts of their body, dresses, handkerchiefs, rulers, purses, chairs, tables and so on. Personality Connection: There are cases where some influential students make use of godfathers in politics, economic high towers, parents, and cult members to influence the outcome of examinations. Chuta (1995) also classified strategies for cheating in examinations into four main categories by the code names given to them in Nigeria by the students.

(1) Life mercenary service by which an academically able person enters the hall and writes the examination for the real candidate. (2) Hall assistance whereby materials useful for answering the questions are brought into the hall with the collusion of the supervisors and invigilators. (3) Express service by which the real candidate sits in the hall while a hired person writes the examination outside and later smuggles the answer scripts into the hall. (4) Super express service whereby the candidate is given the question papers in advance; the candidate writes the answers at home and then brings the scripts into the hall on the examination day.

Recommendations The alarming incidence of examination malpractices in Nigeria has made the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and other examination boards continue to cancel thousands of students' results annually. Some schools are even banned from serving as examination centres. Also, the Nigerian government set up special tribunals for offenders to face under the Miscellaneous Offences Act 33 of 1999 to ensure speedy trials and stiff penalties. Virtually all Nigerian universities now do special screening examinations for new intakes. All these, however are only short term solutions to the challenge. In order to address the problem of examination malpractices, there is need to examine the environment that led to the development of these vices and crises in the education sector. Three main factors may be blamed for this. The first factor is the education system, which puts so much emphasis on final examinations. The second is the mode of assessment of a student's performance. The third is corruption, which has left many a Nigerian without work ethic and integrity.

The educational system inherited from the British colonialists was white-collar directed. Functional and relevant education is what the Nigerian economy requires. There is need to align our education with our national goals, and remain faithful to it. Assessment is placed on just one examination either for admission to or for the award of a particular certificate. Continuous assessment is virtually new in the system and it is not a part of the evaluation process for examinations, such as the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Examination for entrance into universities, polytechnics and colleges of education. In order to curb corruption which has eaten deep into the moral fabric of our national life, it seems expedient for government and indeed all stakeholders to have a moral rebirth. There is need for massive reorientation for all Nigerians, both old and young. If we are to evolve as one of top 20 economies in the world, we must close ranks and believe in our destiny as a people. Nigerians should begin to put their lives on the line for the Nigerian project. Nigerians should begin to do whatever can be done to lift her out of obscurity into limelight, not seeking for our respective share of the national cake. Examination malpractices have become endemic in the Nigerian society and urgent steps must be taken to correct this malaise. The following suggestions could help to reduce exam malpractices: Attractive remuneration package for staff of examination bodies to forestall bribe and enticement with money. Students should be spaced out properly during examinations and arranged according to their examination numbers.

Schools and examination halls must be in order, well equipped and arranged before the commencement of an examination.

Examination papers should be well guarded and protected at the originating offices and the exams centres.

Enough resources must be made available for the conduct of examinations (Ene and Ursula, 1998).

Posting of Supervisors to centres should be reviewed constantly during the examination period.

Sufficient invigilators must be available to conduct examinations. Inspectors should be made to visit examination centres on a daily basis. There should be emphasis on traditional values of honesty, hard-work, fairness, uprightness at home and in schools.

Conducive-learning environment should be provided in schools. Examination bodies and Chief Executives of educational institutions should plant secret cameras in halls to monitor examinees. (Oredein, on line)

Government should be serious with Miscellaneous Offences Act 33 of 1999 and enforce it. (Fagbemi, 1998)

All Federal and state broadcasting stations should continually decry this malaise and highlight its consequences.

The citizenry, particularly all categories of students should be given orientation on avoiding compromise of integrity in all institutions.

Conclusion Examination remains the bedrock of the academic institution and societal development at large. It plays an important role in job placement and the attainment of higher post in various fields of endeavours. Both tone and image of educational institutions are determined by the quality of their respective systems of evaluation. It is supposed to be a yardstick for measuring the quality of certificates of any educational institution. As education plays a vital role in the development of a nation, it is expedient that every hand be on deck to improve the examination system of Nigerian education. Though there have been some improvement in some of our examinations, there are much more yet to be accomplished in curbing external malpractices in order to restore integrity to the nations public examinations. Presently, the certificates issued by our higher institutions are viewed with contempt outside the shores of Nigeria. Within Nigeria, some who claim to have acquired the certificates are unable to function efficiently in their supposed field of specialization. If all efforts are geared towards managing the examinations in schools the implication is that malpractices will drop considerably and the Nigerian golden age would be restored. Certificates issued by Nigerian universities would become recognised locally and internationally. With a programme of sustainability, Nigerian universities would be listed amongst the first 500 best universities in the world. As the development and advancement of a nation depends majorly on education, corrective steps should be taken urgently to forestall our nation from being in servitude to other nations. Laying less

emphasis on paper qualification and recognising industry may be good point to begin the paradigm shift. The buck stops at the desk of the executive leadership. Our leaders must begin to muster the political will to follow through all programmes of reform in education. Learnerfriendly environment needs to be created in the schools and adequate remuneration be given to teachers at all levels. Student and Faculty exchange programmes, locally and internationally, should be facilitated while professional development should be entrenched in teachers employment package. It is expedient for government to put education on priority by allocating 26% of the budget to education. It is also imperative to ensure that such funds are properly spent to drive the educational system. The concluding factor that would enhance integrity of Nigerian examinations is the recruitment of high caliber educationists and trainers, beginning with the tertiary schools. To this end, it may be suggested that government and stakeholders in education should hire the very best hands in driving reforms in education. It may be expedient to recall retired professors and headmasters on contract to inject the required momentum into the ailing system.

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