Last week, WAEC blacklisted 47 secondary schools across Kogi state for examination malpractices, poor standards, and compromises, among other ills. OYIBO SALIHU writes on this and the measures being put in place by the state government to address the problem
Examination malpractices have been a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabric of Nigeria’s educational system. Obviously, examination malpractice in Nigeria is more common in primary and secondary schools across the country, and in turn, have been affecting the foundation of the country’s tertiary education to the extent that many graduates nowadays can neither defend their certificates nor qualified for employment.
Examination malpractice has become a societal huge problem, as it is only pupils and students who are at the centre of the shameful act, but parents, teachers, external supervisors, invigilators, security agents and staff of examination bodies who are supposed to be critical stakeholders in building standards, are deeply involved in malpractices, because of the monetary advantage attached to it.
Sadly, the recent rating of Kogi state by WAEC as the leading in examination malpractices in the country did not only tarnished the image of the state, but also, calls for urgent concern and proper management of the sector in order to rid the school system of its consequences.
Apparently, while WAEC charged slightly above N13,000 for the examination, many schools in Kogi state, particularly the schools banned for examination malpractices, charged far and above N35,000, while some private schools charge upward of N50,000 to N60,000 per candidate.
The reason behind the high charges according to source, is to use part of the money to induced WAEC supervisors and invigilators to compromise during supervision.
At a ministerial press briefing last week, the Kogi state Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mrs Rosemary Osikoya, without mincing words, revealed that the West African Examination Council (WAEC), has banned 47 secondary schools in the state, for examination malpractices.
According to the list, 31 schools are from Eastern senatorial district of the state, while 11 affected affected schools are in the Central senatorial district and only two schools are from Western senatorial district of the state. Out of the 47 schools sanctioned by the examination body 13 are private schools.
Reasons for sanction
She said that the examination body accused the schools of aiding and abetting examination malpractice in Kogi state during WAEC examinations, adding that government recently received a letter to that effect from the examination body.
She further revealed that the indicted schools comprised during examinations in the blacklisted private and public secondary schools scattered across the state , adding that 13 of the secondary schools have been identified to be notorious for various examination malpractices since they were licensed as centres in 2002.
The commissioner said that the schools, with the connivance of some unscrupulous elements in the education sector, had been giving the state a bad image through their nefarious action, stressing that the indicted secondary schools would receive additional sanctions from the state government.
Osikoya who expressed dissatisfaction with the state’s rating as number one in examination malpractice in the country, noted that her ministry was determined to reverse the negative trend.
Commenting on the ugly situation, a human right activist and Executive Director, Centre for Human Right and Conflict Resolution based in Lokoja, Mr Abdul Miliki, described the development as a worrisome that requires urgent attention of the state government.
Miliki who attributed the current anomalies in education system in the state to the nonchalant attitude of the state’s leaders toward the sector, said the basic education has been neglected to a level that pupil and students of primary and secondary schools stayed at home for upward of one year as a result of teachers strike for non- payment of their salaries and other emoluments.
According to him, “Many people especially parents have been expressing concern over the long strikes action in the recent past. Our worries that time is what we are experiencing now. A student who have cultivated the habit of cheating in examination can never grow to be a honest and sincere person.
“It is very unfortunate that even some Principals , Vice Principals and teachers aiding and abetting in examination malpractices and until government wage a war against the action of these categories of people in the system , this menace called examination malpractices will not end in Kogi state.”
While calling on the state ministry of education to intensify effort in monitoring of schools and punishing any erring staff, the Human Right Activist, lamented that since the creation of Kogi state over 26 years ago there was no educational policy that can drive the sector toward development.
He however urged the state government to comply with UNESCO policy on education where it was categorically stated that government at all level should commit 26 percent of its annual budget to education development.
Corroborating the statement of Comrade Miliki, a retired school Principal based in Ajaokuta local government area, Mr Usman Ondeku , expressed concern over the future of the state and the country.
Loss of reading culture
He attributed the loss of reading culture in primary and secondary schools to have given rise to the incessant act of various kind of cheating during examinations.
He said “Imagine many secondary school students these days preferred to devote their time , money and energy in watching international football matches at the detriment of their studies.
“Go to any secondary school today call a student at random ask the student names of Chelsea or Manchester United football players , you will be surprise to hear detail about these clubs , but ask the same student question like the factors of production in economics , the student will leave his mouth ajar without an answer .
“That is the level this country have reached where priority are no longer given to studies. Imagine a student who have brilliant result got admission into university but cannot cross through first semester due to outright poor performance. A lot is required to be done to revive the educational system in Kogi state.
Irked by West African Examination Council (WAEC)’s banning of 47 secondary schools from serving as examination centres following incessant malpractices, the Kogi government has adopted stringent measures to check the trend.
Its education commissioner, Mr Osikoya, at a meeting with principals of affected schools last week Friday in Lokoja, the state capital, the Commissioner said that the stiff measures would curb the menace, restore integrity and uphold the tenets of the teaching profession.
She directed the 47 indicted schools to pay N250,000 each, to WAEC as fine, adding that none of them would be allowed to conduct Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations in 2018.
According to her “All students in the indicted schools will be moved to other centres for the 2018 examination. The process of transferring students has also been well articulated; there must be proper documentations. All principals must monitor their students and teachers to ensure that they do the right thing.
“No student is allowed to move to another school in the final year; transfers will only be accepted in SS1 or SS2 henceforth. Any principal that flouts this order shall be dismissed and be prosecuted.”
Curtail the menace
Speaking at the meeting, Dr. Nathaniel Boboi, the Branch Controller of WAEC in Kogi, warned that the organisation would not condone any act of examination malpractice, saying that everything would be done to curtail the menace.
“WAEC does not have any centre called “Miracle Centre”; the council is uncomfortable with this menace in our schools, especially in Kogi, which tops the list of examination malpractice out of the 36 States.”
He noted that teaching staff, infrastructure and other examination facilities were grossly inadequate in schools, and called for improvement by the state government.
However, Dr. Mathias Okpala, the State Officer of National Examination Council (NECO), said that nobody should be exonerated on the issue of examination malpractice in Kogi state.
Urgently re-orientation of value system
According to him “What we need urgently is a re-orientation of our value system, especially as it affects our education,”
However, Examination Malpractice Act 33 of 1999 stipulates punishment ranging from a fine of N50, 000. to N100, 000 and imprisonment for a term of 3-4 years with or without option of fine. Despite all this law, examination malpractice has been on the increase which may be due to non-implementation of the laws to bring the perpetrators to book.
And to succeed in the fight against examination malpractices, government should take proactive measures beyond the fine meted on the perpetrators, but to also arrest and prosecution them, as this will serve as deterrent to others planning to engage in the bad act.