Education and Examination Malpractice

by Samuel, Koriake

Education should go beyond the ability to quote Shakespeare, Auguste Xavier Comte, E.B Taylor, Herbert Spencer or Karl Marx; it does not reflect original scholarship but the products of the imitation complex. A truly educated individual is one who has respect on evidence not a person, one who is psychologically emancipated…always prepared to subject his views and those of others to critical scrutiny… (Nnamdi Azikiwe).

 The above excerpt by Nnamdi Azikiwe is inclusive, with no exemption of lecturers, educators or students. From personal experience I have seen that many lecturers, educators and students are just a product of the imitation complex. Some lecturers, probably due to their self-inflicted busy schedules, hardly deliver a good lecture to the comprehension of students. This category of lecturer, and educators, with the imitation complex, are very proficient in quoting Shakespeare – they say everything in a text verbatim! This is what many would see as specialization because they teach a particular course for more than four years, often reading the same text or its current edition year-in-year-out. They are thus confined and have limited their knowledge to such areas and are not susceptible to change. Students find it difficult to comprehend lectures delivered by such lecturers because they are boring, unanalytical and because they do not make examples from contemporary, everyday phenomena. Sadly, lecturers with the imitation complex are not very analytical in delivering their embellished year-in-year-out, well-told stories and as such they demand their students to do the same in their exam. Anyone who cannot put down words as it is in Genesis to Exodus does not pass very well! However, students who are good with cramming often pass with a B. For such category of lecturer’s students who give an explanation about a concept other than their usual story is applying common sense for academics and as such does not deserve to pass.

Education is liberating. Without education an individual can hardly express his truest feelings, thoughts, desires, and wants. Education is a social science concept characterized by absence of operational definition because there are many scholars defining it. It is also characterized by a multiplicity of definitions because there are many people defining it. Well-educated people are easily acknowledged by virtue of their proficiency in communication – their ability to use words and their relation to others in the society in which they find themselves. It is apparent that people who are exposed to different disciplines possess a vast array of vocabulary compared to those who are not.

Education means different things to different people. For those who are certificate-oriented, education is the process through which one must pass through to obtain one’s certificate and get employed. The certificate-oriented category of students do not take cognizance of their individual weaknesses in the academic world. They communicate rather intelligently, frown at and keep people who are conscious of their communicative skills at arm’s length.  For those who are knowledge-oriented education is the key to success, emancipation from intimidation, liberation of the mind and the tool which one needs to accomplish one’s desired goals. This category of students put in their best to make a difference in every endeavor of their life – to conquer their challenges – be it speaking, writing or addressing an audience.They do this through learning. They also improve their use of diction by associating with colleagues who are proficient in the use of language. The third category are those who are both knowledge- and certificate-oriented. These are the category of people or students who utilize their available resources and who therefore do everything humanely possible to achieve their aim. They are not without intelligence. However, they use both position, influence, money and sex to achieve set objectives. It is an obvious fact and it is crystal clear that  human resources are scarce, positions and placement of people in social institutions depend on many factors such as godfathers, man-know-man, certificates and good grades. Social placement today is being determined by such factors rather than on proficiency and merit.

Examination malpractice does not exist in a vacuum. It takes place in the academic institutions the world over, utilized by those who are dull, less intelligent, intelligent, and even by those who are very intelligent in order to get better grades, make one’s parents proud, or to remain in the system.

Examination malpractice is an unauthorized help or assistance to a student, or group of students either in the examination hall, outside of it or electronically. It is a misdemeanor on the part of the student and the party that rendered such help. For many students in the university “examination is a survival of the fittest” so they must do what they can to survive (to remain in school) to avoid being WAF (withdrawal for academic failure) in order to pass. 60%indulge in examination malpractice. Those caught in the act in some department and faculty are expelled, others suspended. Some department take it rather leniently but such students invariably repeat such exams while others sail through, through the back door. Some have improved their survival strategies by using different examination malpractice tactics. Some are specialized in the use of microchips (small printed papers with answers that are rather difficult to read by an out-group). Others enter the exam hall with already prepared answer booklets. Yet others use their cellphones to copy and cheat their way to success. Much to my chagrin are those who have access to examination questions a day before the exam. How do they get such information? I don’t know. Do they by any means hack the computers in the lecturer’s offices? Who is selling whose examination questions to students? I know far too well that we have a bad network in Nigeria and hacking in a situation and environment like that would be nearly impossible.

I have seen many students with microchips in the examination hall. Some stuck it in their dress, others on their labs, and some in their breasts while others in their pockets and immediately after they received the answer booklet from the supervisors they slot it in, in the middle of the answer booklet!  If perused carefully, the answer booklets most students use for malpractice are different from the ones given to them by the supervisors in the examination hall. Others put the microchips in the answer booklet because it is very small for anyone to detect it. There is much “copyography” that takes place during examinations. It has eaten deeply into higher institutions. The system needs to be revived if we want to produce well-educated scholars, to get  rid of this phenomenon, and people who will not cheat in exams.

In order to purge the system of this anomaly and gross misconduct, strict measures and new policy should be taken. This will include the following:

  1. Examination questions should be submitted to the head of department for scrutiny an hour or two before the commencement of such an examination to avoid questions being leaked.
  2. Students and non-academic staff should be prohibited, irrespective of their academic role, from entering any lecturer’s office where examination questions are kept on the day of examination, until after such an examination.
  3. No academic staff should by any means give answer booklets to students outside the examination hall, or before the commencement of such an examination.
  4. No secretary in charge of typing, printing or making a copy of examination questions should by any means expose such questions written there on to students, or anybody subject to such an examination.
  5. Students should be properly searched before entering the examination hall. No student on any account should be allowed to enter the examination hall without being searched properly.
  6. Students should be carefully monitored in the examination hall, consistently and quietly, and on no account should an examination be monitored by one supervisor alone.
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