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Nigerians need reorientation

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Nigerians need reorientation

By Ilechukwu Obinna


If there is a time when education should be made a subject of discourse, it is now. Now is the time adequate attention should be accorded to the cracking walls of education

Examination malpractice is a canker-worm, a very pernicious one, which has eaten deep into the fabric of the system. This is not to say that it is the sole factor affecting education in Nigeria. However, the contingencies of examination malpractice have caused blood to flow from the path of tear for all Nigerians. The recent drastic degradation of education is attributable to this menace and not just that, so many other detestable occurrences in our nation. It is a subject that gives concern many people and also one that others have come to accept that “it has come to stay,” quoting a young man. Yet another set of thinkers still believe strongly that it can be reduced to the barest minimum.

Examination malpractice has been shown, according to a study, to have emanated due to natural tendency instigated by human administration.

The research by Nigeria’s Galaxy Edutainment Group, is with the view of improving on the performance of our academic sector. To gain better understanding, education should be defined properly. It could be defined as “an act or process of developing and cultivating (whether physically, mentally or morally) one’s mental activities or senses, the expansion, strengthening and discipline of one’s mind, faculty, etc the forming and regulation of principles and character in order to prepare and be fit for any calling or business by systematic instruction. The result of this is determined by the knowledge, skills, or discipline of character acquired.” Someone else has simply defined examination as, “The true test of knowledge.”

Examination malpractice is all about cutting corners to pass beyond what one’s intellectual capacity can deliver at that point in time. It is contravening the rules governing an examination either by a student, lecturer or any other individual or individuals. It is pertinent to point out that examination malpractice lacks a universal definition and that it is not necessarily the same everywhere. Studies have shown that what is examination malpractice here may not be considered examination malpractice in another place.

Nigeria has experienced a rapid increment in the rate of examination malpractice in the recent past. The root of this problem is traceable to as far back as 1916, which recorded the implantation of what can today be described as “Nigeria value system” and this has, in no small amount, contributed to the consequent degradation of the standard of education.

In 1909, Hans Vischer, an ex-Anglican missionary, organised the education system of the protectorate of Northern Nigeria. This organisation improved the strength of the missionary and added relevance to education. Another factor that led to the improvement of education was the establishment of an education department in 1887 in Southern Nigeria. During this period, the administration of the educational sector focused strongly on examinations.

Consequently, in 1916, Lord Fredrick Lugard set up a body to undertake such functions as discipline, building and inspection of adequacy of teaching staff. (school inspectorate) The historical overview and study cum unravelling of records reveals that this body did very well at ensuring quality education but its major weakness was its criterion for crediting performance of schools, as it went to the numbers and rankings of its examination results. It then meant that the school with the highest number of first class students, for instance, was judged to be the best. This practice continued even till later days, up to the point that examination results became a pivotal basis for job qualification in both government and private sectors. It may be granted that it is an opinion held by many that the essence of schooling is to graduate and get a job. Now, in a society like this, what will one not do in order to get a job after graduation?

This explains the emanation of the idea that many describe as ‘Nigeria’s value system.’ Nigeria is a society where so much importance is attached to the paper more than the holder.

In Nigeria, if only one can patiently stay in school for four years or so and graduate with Bsc, BA, LLB or any other relevant degree in a discipline, he is a highly educated man. It is a haven when he goes back to acquire master’s degree and the like, glory to his name, when he has a Ph.D.

In most places, the very first consideration in allocating leadership positions is one’s certificate or degree and other considerations, as regards to the ability to discharge duty, is done in favour of the so called “more educated person.” In a society where your full worth is determined by your certificate or degree and your personal value is the dictates of a signed document, one will strive to acquire this document by hook or by crook.

Now we are complaining of incompetent graduates everywhere. Most of them graduated with second class divisions and even first class. History has it that in the 1980s, Nigeria had the lowest number of indigenous engineers per capita of any third world country.

Research into examination malpractice in Nigeria reveals that sometime ago, before 1990, most Nigerian universities had followed the British higher education system of “final examination” as the basis for granting degrees. The criterion of examination result as the primary sorting device for access to schools and universities lead to widespread corruption and cheating among faculty and students at all levels, especially secondary and higher institutions.

Economic hardship among teaching staff produced increased engagement in non-academic activities. Says Victor Dike, “Nigeria is suffering terribly, for that, with socio-political and economic crises strewn all over the society like a straw hut in a typhoon”.

Though this issue was not and has not been rectified, there are a number of efforts made by authorities to do so. In 2009, the West African Examination Council carried a decentralisation of the script checking exercise so that it could be marked at all marking venues simultaneously. As a result of this seemingly uncontrollable trend, Nigeria’s examination council barred visits by community leaders monitoring examination.

Mrs. Chinwe Obaji Nora, a former Minister of Education, gave mandate to institutions to conduct their screening exercise to ensure that admitted students are eligible. The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board went back to the drawing board and subsequently introduced electronic object scanners and others.

Some of the measures that have been tried are all aimed at minimising the rate of sharp practices by candidates so as to give or rather bring back the credibility of examination in the country.

Nigeria needs a re-orientation, such that can effectively correct our misconception and provide a substantial differential between papers dictates and personal quality.

- Ilechukwu, president, Galaxy Edutainment Group, writes in from the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos. He can be reached at - Nigerian news, Editorials, Commentaries, Opinions, naija, Nigeria, West Africa

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Updated 8 Years ago

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