For over two decades, Nigeria’s educational scene has been plagued by examination malpractice. Despite the series of efforts by different examination bodies in the country to tame the scourge, it seems to be assuming new dimensions. UJUNWA ATUEYI, in this report, seeks the views of external examiners on how the menace can be curbed.
Nkiru Owolabi, 42, is a widow. Owolabi, who teaches in one of the private schools in Lagos State, lives in a single room apartment with her five children. They live fairly in poverty. But she is determined to see to the welfare of her children and also give them the best of education.
On a yearly basis, during May/June WASSCE or NECO, Owolabi sees the period as a season of harvest. It is the period they make extra money as they help supervisors in the conduct of the examination.
She gets large chunk from whatever amount of money that is recorded each day, from desperate candidates and parents who want special assistance.
To her, WASSCE period is a big business deal that cannot afford to be unexploited.
At the end of the day, the tasks are well executed and their candidates record extraordinarily brilliant results.
The candidates may have done well, but their success is a product of fraud that has dire consequences.
Around the country, there are so many schools, be it public, private or WAEC approved study centres, which are recording huge success in WASSCE and NECO, but may be not for the right reasons.
Though, their candidates are making very good results, they are always done through external help. They get ‘mercenaries’ to help their students solve the questions, which are now distributed among the students.
Some of these schools go all out to pay the invigilators and examiners so that they can look the other way.
When The Guardian spoke with a teacher of a school in Oregun, he said, “I had to quit because of my Christian faith. My belief does not condone cheating, but this is what I have been doing for years.”
Our respondent, who prefers to remain anonymous, said, “private schools corrupt invigilators. They get the money ready before examination, which is then shared among all of them. That’s why they turn out good results. They charge exorbitant fees for enrollment and so they have to justify the amount people are paying.”
This may have suggested why examiners who spoke with The Guardian were definite in their respective conclusion that examination malpractices in Nigeria cannot be eliminated. It will continue to exist, deepen and advance to the next level, as long as the love for money exists.
Supporting their argument, they noted that the majority of the private school owners would go the extra length to ensure their students pass West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) with unmerited distinctions.
Most private school owners, according to some West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) examiners, who spoke with The Guardian, are desperate when it comes to WASSCE, and as long as there are gullible examination officers, the scourge will continue.
Private school proprietors, they said, have been bribing WAEC and NABTEB examiners to not only allow their candidates cheat during examination, but to also disclose question papers to them before examination.
The misdemeanour has somehow become a norm that any examiner that opposes it is not only dubbed ‘holier than thou’, but also receives hostile treatment and threat to life.
The more the examination bodies are devising means to tackle the scourge, the more the number of candidates that engage in the act increases.
Examiners said the number of candidates that were caught during examinations is far less than the number that engages in examination malpractice successfully.