Education is a fundamental human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). All children of the world are entitled to quality education and must have equitable access to education. Achieving universal primary education is the second Millennium Development Goal and also part of the ongoing sustainable development goals of the United Nations.
All parents hope for a good education for their children. It is the key to the next generation’s future, particularly for the poor. It equips young citizens with the knowledge and skills to thrive in their country’s economy and to participate fully in society. It is a cornerstone of economic and social development and a constitutional guarantee in most countries.
It is therefore saddening to see decay in such an important sector of society. Secondary education in Nigeria is bedeviled by a lot of negative issues ranging from exam malpractice, corruption, inadequate teachers and facilities, to lack of interest on the part of the government. These problems threaten the future of our nation as the products of the secondary schools go on to the tertiary institutions and end up in different sectors of the economy and the civil service. Corruption in education is particularly damaging because it endangers a country’s social, economic, and political future. It is incompatible with one of the major aims in education — producing citizens that respect the law and human rights. If children come to believe that personal effort and merit do not count and that success comes through manipulation, favoritism, and bribery then the very foundations of society are shaken.
THE MENACE OF CORRUPTION AND EXAMINATION MALPRACTICE IN NIGERIAN SECONDARY SCHOOLS
corruption is a general term covering the misuse of authority as a result of considerations of personal gain, which need not be monetary. It involves behavior that deviates from the normal duties of a public role because of private, pecuniary, or status gain; or violates rules against the exercise of certain types of influence.
Examination malpractice, on the other hand, is defined as any deliberate act of wrongdoing, contrary to the rules of examinations designed to give a candidate an unfair advantage to pass an examination. It also involves the award of unmerited marks to students because of personal gains. In some examinations, the level of malpractice is so high that it seriously undermines the credibility of the examination system.
The following are some identified forms of examination malpractice and corruption:
Leakage – This means disclosing the content of the examination or part of it prior to the time the examination is taken.
Impersonation — In this case, an individual who is not registered as a candidate takes the place of one that is registered. This involves collusion between the students and the examination supervisor.
External Assistance —This is a situation where individuals who are not examination candidates give unauthorized assistance to candidates. Usually, this involves invigilators dictating or writing answers on the boards.
Smuggling of foreign materials – This is perhaps the most common form of malpractice. It relates to the introduction of unauthorized materials (e.g. notebooks, crib notes, charts, and answers) into the examination hall.
Copying — This entails reproducing another candidate’s work in the exam hall.
Collusion – Unauthorized passing of information between candidates, Usually by exchanging notes or scripts. It usually involves only the candidates but can be facilitated by the inadequate spacing between desks and poor supervision.
Ghost/Miracle Centers (Fictitious examination centers) – This is a center established by corrupt examination officials where candidates can complete the examination with the support of helpers (mercenaries) and without supervision, especially in external examinations.
Markers’ Malpractice — This refers to the deliberate alteration of marks designed to inflate or deflate a candidate’s original mark.
HOW TO CURB EXAMINATION MALPRACTICE AND CORRUPTION
Students, right from kindergarten, must be made to believe that they cannot have a brighter academic future either individually or collectively by cheating in the examination. These exams are the foundation on which their future is built. Therefore, students must understand the long-term danger of building a shaky foundation for their lives. A concerted effort is needed with the aim of changing students’ attitudes towards learning in place of malpractices. We must make them believe that they have more than enough talent to do much better in their exams. There is a need for serious sanctions for deviant students, staff, and other collaborators. However, it is difficult to preach that, if election riggers are finding themselves in our government hOUSeS – action speaks louder than voice. The moment political leaders start to live by example, I am optimistic that many things will fall into place.
WHAT WE DO AT MARIST BROTHERS’ JUNIORATE, UTURU
At MBJI we have recognized that examination malpractice kills the fabrics of society. Therefore, it is not given any space in the school. The school has stringent punishment for students and staff found wanting.
For deviants, the punishment is stepping down to the former class of the student or outright expulsion and immediate sack for the staff. The examination halls are well manned by staff, with students well-spaced. Students in different classes are mixed in the hall such that no two students in the same class can sit next to each other. This is to avoid any sort of communication in the hall.
Furthermore, there is also an exchange of examination scripts with other Marist Schools (swapping of scripts) a situation where no subject teacher and parents can influence the grades of a student since a teacher cannot mark or grade the scripts of his/her subject.
From the foregoing, it is clear that for any educational institution to be successful, corruption and examination malpractice must be fought at all costs. Citizens who are products of examination malpractice are very dangerous to society. Patients die easily in the hands of such doctors, buildings and bridges collapse in the hands of such engineers, quackery in all fields of life is rampant with such people. This, the Marist Brothers have overcome and this is why we succeed.
A paper presented by Rev Bro Emmanuel Mario Ogu, (fms)
Director, Marist Brothers’ Juniorate, Uturu