The parent that supports his child to cheat in the exam hall have unknowingly introduced the child to criminality and guess where that singular exposure may lead the child. Much more likely, the parent may have lost the moral compass and authority over that child, a result that may not become evident until a moral issue comes in between the parent and the child. Then the child with good recollection comes up with a superior argument and wriggles out of control, to the agony of the parent. Dad, Mum, you ask for it. You deserve the treatment you get.
The crooked teacher on his own part reminds one of the Biblical Esau by trading the ethics that govern its role for some gratification. What will be the end result? Stagnancy! One doesn’t grow professionally kicking against the ethics of his profession. I understand many teachers may not give a damn about this because they have only found themselves in teaching due to circumstances and not because they want to build a career in teaching. Well, professionalism is a culture, and what one does along one career path, he tends to do same along other paths. If as a teacher you subscribe to malpractice and unethical principles, don’t be surprised if you engage in similar acts in any other field or position you find yourself.
Are there really school owners who are involved in exam malpractice?
Are there not? And this brings some sobering thoughts because many of these owners are seen as well-meaning individuals in the society, with good positions and titles. But how well-meaning could one be championing an act capable of destroying the younger generation. The one whose school is an avenue for malpractice because he does not want to go under in paying his bills has already gone under in living his conscience. And having chosen money over integrity, he will have to lead a double life to remain a respected member or leader in the society. And that hypocrisy may likely be exposed one day, if he never turns a new leaf.
In view of these developments, fighting the scourge of examination malpractice ravaging the education system in Nigeria will require good leadership and willingness to make a difference. That is why everyone in a leadership position in the various ministries and boards of education and the various examination bodies should ask himself what is his role and input to uphold what his employer stands for. To occupy such a position and blends with corruption manifesting as malpractice is treason against the establishment one owes his allegiance. And nothing may be more unlawful in the eyes of justice.
Consequently, when such leadership is ready to uphold academic integrity within its own direct sphere, it will be bold enough to devise scrutiny measures that can deal with the scourge. With the aid of technology, whistle-blowing mechanism, and post examination evaluation, respective authorities can monitor activities in schools and examination centres to detect crooked methods of malpractice and those engaging in them, be it students, teachers, the school itself or the supervisor sent to the school. And there should be no sacred cows if this is going to work.
The offenders may likely not give up their crooked acts easily, so their acts when exposed must attract due punishment, but just due, not overbearing in a way the public eye may frown at it. In a country where more grievous offences sometimes go unpunished due to porosity in its judicial system, 21-year imprisonment for a first-time offender of exam malpractice may be seen as an outrageous penalty. For such an erring student, the aim of the punishment should be corrective, not destroying his future which such a long sentence may do. Suspending the student or giving him say a few years ban from writing the particular exam level he cheated in should be enough punishment and enough deterrent for other students. This way, exam cheats will be largely kept away from our school system.
The penalty may be a bit stiffer for educators aiding students to cheat but it must also follow the same order of corrective for offenders and deterrent for others. Schools and exam centres found guilty with clear evidences of exam malpractice should, among other punitive measures that may be meted, be labelled not-to-be-trusted, a label they will carry for a number of years with sanctions and extra scrutiny. Hopefully, such schools will be off the hook after the punitive period with fruits of repentance to show. Even if only 10 percent of erring schools are caught and taken through this process of reformation, they will be scape goats for the remaining 90 percent to learn from.
THE ANTIDOTE TO THE UGLY EXAMINATION MALPRACTICE
Lastly, the antidote to this rather ugly development may be the neglected exercise of orientation through the mass media about the dangers of examination malpractice as spelt out here. A vibrant orientation campaign in a way that is appealing to today’s students, noise enough to be heard, and music enough to be listened to, will help rebuild among students the culture of diligence, adequately preparing for examination and generally upholding the sanctity of what examination is really all about. If done long enough, we may come off this scourge of malpractice into a new order where the average student abhors any form of cheating and is willing to prepare for examination on his own and ready to take the results of his own inputs. This new order will make the average student tell himself and any party trying to lure him into malpractice that such is not necessary as he does not have to cheat to pass exams.