A SURVEY OF EXAMINATION MALPRACTICE AMONG SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS
Though examination malpractice is neither a recent phenomenon nor is it peculiar to Nigeria or Africa (Awanbor, 2005), the alarming rate of increase is a global issue. The alarming rate of increase in examination malpractice in secondary schools in Nigeria calls for concern from all stakeholders in the education sector. It has been widely reported that parents and teachers aid and abet examination malpractice directly or indirectly (Vanguard, 2005; Weekend Pointer, 2005; Nigerian Tribune, 2009). Parent go to the extent of bribing their way through to ensure that their wards get unearned grades while teachers encourage examination malpractice because they lack the zeal to work but want to be praised for job not done (Alutu and Aluede, 2006). According to Omoluabi and Uzoka (cited in Aluta and Aluede, 2006), the value system in Nigeria has broken down completely and so adults and youths alike act without moral scruples. This is the reason why examination malpractices still thrives despite its grave consequences on the social political and economic structures of the nation.
Examination Malpractice Act No. 33 of 1999 stipulates a minimum punishment of fifty thousand naira (N50,000.00) and a maximum of five years imprisonment, without option of fine, for violators of the offences stipulated in the Act. The offence are: cheating at examinations, stealing of question papers, impersonation, disturbances at examination, obstruction of supervision, forgery of result slip, breach of duty, conspiracy and aiding etc. Government, examination bodies, and other concerned citizens have made a lot of efforts to forestall the incidences of examination malpractice and the problems associated with the conduct of examinations in Nigeria. Although, the effort seems to be yielding some results, yet incidences of examination malpractice still feature prominently in the school system. In 2006, the Federal Ministry of Education blacklisted and derecognized 324 secondary schools across the nation as centres for conducting public examinations from 2007 to 2010.
Education is a vital and crucial tool needed for the formation of minds from childhood in a designed environment called school, where learning and the acquisition of skills can take place for the total development of each individual, the society and the nation as a whole (Ogunkoya, 1998). The overall aim of education is to shape the behaviour of an individual, so that he or she can perform most effectively within his social milieu. Examination malpractice has been in existence for a very long time. Famiwole (1995) reported that the first case of examination leakage and irregularities in public examination occurred in 1945. According to him, a Nigerian candidate has his examination cancelled because of the possession of a history note during 1948 Matriculation Examination. An earlier incident was the leakage of the Cambridge School Certificate Examination in 1914, since then, there have been several cases. However, the most widely reported cases occurred in 1963, 1967, 1970, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1987, 1991 and 1994 (Money, 1997). Examination malpractice constitutes one of the most debilitating problems facing our education institutions today and they are constantly manifested and reported in our schools, colleges and other higher institutions. Examination malpractice is any activity of a student or group of students whose purpose is to give any of them higher grades than they would likely receive on the basis of their own achievement. Fatai (2005) defines it as an irregular act exhibited candidates or anybody charged with the conduct of examination, which is clearly a breach of the rules governing the conduct and integrity of the examination. It is viewed as an act carried out before, during and after examination, which is against the rules set out for the proper and orderly conduct of the examination.
Liman (1997) opined that malpractices have a paralyzing effect on the developing nation. Its process makes void in our youth, future leaders and professionals a situation that leads to a future of social, political and economic insanity and bankruptcy. According to him, engaging in examination malpractice leads to cancellation of results, which means great waste of resources to society and parents, and provides sources of agony and injustice to innocent students.
Examination malpractice has become a common feature in the contemporary Nigerian school system. There are examination leakages, irregularities and cheating during class tests, at the end of the term or semester or during final examination. Various attempts have been made to reduce the incidence of malpractice, yet the problem still persists even at a more alarming rate. There is the need to evolve a permanent solution to this cankerworm.
Before the advent of Western type of education, traditional Nigerian education was based mainly on experience and practice. Its mode of instruction was simple as knowledge was passed on orally and through practical tests. Students then had to commit to memory, learn by rote, or through observation (Ibia, 2006). Because traditional Nigerian education placed little or no emphasis on certification, students had the proper view of education, seeing it as a means to an end not an end in itself. Besides, the Nigerian culture then frowned at dishonesty and would not hesitate to sanction offenders (Agogo, 2006).