Examination malpractice has continued to affect the quality of education in Nigeria. Some students see malpractice as the surest way to pass their examinations.
In most cases, teachers, school management and parents have been found wanting as they aid their wards to engage in examination practices.
Experts name wrong value system, quest for certification instead of knowledge and skills and poor school facilities among factors that are responsible for examination malpractice in the country.
Despite efforts by government, examination bodies and stakeholders to halt the practice, examination malpractice seems to be untamable.
On Monday, the West African Examination Council (WAEC) released the result of the 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) candidates.
The breakdown of the result showed that 215,149 candidates’ results out of 1,538,445 that wrote the examination were withheld due to malpractice.
Presenting the result, the Head of the Nigeria WAEC National Office, Patrick E. Areghan, said the results of 215,149 candidates, representing 13.98% of the total number of candidates that sat for the examination are being withheld in connection with reported cases of examination malpractice.
He said: “The cases are being investigated and reports of the investigations will be presented to the appropriate committee of the council for determination in due course. The committee’s decision will be communicated to the affected candidates through their various schools.”
However, a Daily Trust tally of WASSCE results in the last five years showed that 865, 702 candidates’ results have been withheld by the council.
In the WASSCE SC, 2019, the results of 180,205 candidates out of 1,590,173 representing 11.33% were withheld. The 2018 record was, however, not available as at the time of compilation. In 2017, the results of 214,952 candidates out of 1,559,162, representing 13.79%, were withheld.
In 2016 the results of 137,295 candidates out of 1,544,234 representing 8.89% were withheld while for 2015, the results of 118,101 candidates, out of 1,593,442 representing 7.41% were withheld.
The data also showed that there was an increase in the number from 2015 to 2017 a decrease in 2019; and an increase in 2020.
WAEC, however, said some of the results may be released after investigation.
Meanwhile, some stakeholders who spoke to Daily Trust said examination malpractice is caused by failed family values and the quest for certificate.
An educationist, Michael Ojonugwa, explained that examination malpractice is caused, among others, by poor family values, noting that some children saw their parents using shortcuts and malpractices in doing things, so they grew up thinking that it was the normal way to get what they needed.
“The poor academic standard in our institutions today is also part of the reason. Some of the teachers do not even know the subject they are teaching. How do you expect the children to be able to acquire quality education,” he said.
Ojonugwa further said the inability of the students to be able to draw a line between the time they spend on their phone or watching television and the time they put into their academics is also a problem. “Some spend like five hours searching the net but not spend enough time to read their books.”
While noting that examination malpractice cannot be completely eradicated in the system, just as crime cannot be, he, however, said it could be reduced by putting up strong institutions to check the practice.
He advised that families should build the right values in their children and that examination halls should be wired with cameras. “When people know that they are being monitored and there is going to be consequences when they are caught, they will not engage in examination malpractices,” he said.
For the Chairman of Voyage International School, Abuja, Yussuff Oriyomi, continuous involvement of students in malpractices is largely due to poor quality of teachers, low interest in the teaching profession, lack of sufficient teaching aids and erosion of social values.
He said: “Corruption has eaten deep into our fabrics as a society and schools want to showcase success without hard work.”
Introduction of technology, according to him, would help to eradicate malpractices, adding, “The examination bodies should invest in technology as JAMB did. The society must adopt a zero exam malpractice approach.”
Reacting, the Head, Public Affairs of WAEC Nigeria, Demianus Ojijeogu, attributed the continuous rise in WASSCE malpractice to lack of proper guidance and counselling in schools and the non-usage of psychological tests to identify aptitudes.
He further said inadequate coverage of the syllabus by teachers, unpreparedness or poor study habits and lack of confidence by candidates as well as moral decadence in the society are all part of the causes.
While noting that the premium placed on paper qualification/certificates is also a contributing factor, he also said poor teaching and learning in schools, poor infrastructure and teaching aids in most schools, lack of training and motivation of teachers cannot be ruled out.
On what the council was doing to tackle exam malpractice, he maintained that it has zero tolerance for the practice, and as such has adopted different approaches such as banning the use of mobile handsets by candidates and deployment of biometric registration to avoid impersonation among others.
“It is now an offence for candidates to come into WAEC examination halls with a mobile phone. Candidates caught with mobile phones in the examination hall during the WASSCE even if it is switched off will have their entire results cancelled,” he said.
According to him, the council has made it mandatory for public and private schools to procure serviceable metal detectors to be used to prevent candidates from smuggling in mobile handsets into examination halls.
“The Council introduced a device known as Candidates Identity Verification, Attendance, Malpractice and Post Examinations Management System (CIVAMPEMS). This ICT-driven device enables supervisors and staff of the council on duty, to address and record the processes in real-time, on the day of examination,” he said.
He explained that it included “identity verification, capturing and recording occurrences as they happen, such as candidates’ attendance and examination malpractice and transmitting same to our database. With this, the council is able to generate valid examination reports for each examination centre.”
Furthermore, the council, to maintain uniformity, guard against malpractice and improve standards, has designed and introduced customised, transparent mathematical sets, with in-built non-programmable scientific calculators, which conform to the rules and regulations of its examinations.
“Models of the WAEC-customised mathematical set have been made available to schools to assist them in preparing their candidates for the council’s examinations,” he further stated.
On withheld results, he said such results usually go first to WAEC’s National Office Staff Examination Committee (NOSEC) to ferret out those that are not culpable or the cases that cannot withstand litigation because of lack of evidence.
“After that, the remaining cases are sent to the Nigeria Examinations Committee (NEC), the council’s highest decision-making organ on examination-related matters.
“NEC meets and decides based on proofs and pieces of evidence before it knows which ones can be cancelled or released and WAEC is obligated to carry out those decisions,” he said.
“Candidates found culpable will have their results cancelled while those not found culpable have their results released,” he explained.