Examination Malpractices In A New, Electronic Way

Examination Malpractices In A New, Electronic Way

I must have looked incredibly dumbfounded when my friend Ibraheem told me about some websites like naijabaseforum.tk that have helped in significantly revolutionizing examination malpractices in Nigeria in the last two years, because he asked me ‘you  have never heard of this, have you?’. I replied ‘no, I haven’t’ and it was his turn to be surprised. He asked me ‘Have you been living on Planet Pluto?’ (Then I told him Pluto was no longer a planet, but that was beside the point). My friend then gladly reeled out all the atrocious crimes these sites have been perpetrating in the name of helping students.

I was informed that these countless sites would post both West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO) Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) ‘live’ questions as well as Joint Admission Matriculations Board‘s Unified Tertiary Matriculations Examination questions on the nets along with their answers days before the examinations are to be written. I was also told that some of these sites usually change their domain name frequently to avoid clampdown by government. The activist in me was terribly angry but the writer in me told me to look into this issue. So I talked to some secondary school students who were then writing NECO. To login into these sites, I was told, one has to be a member. To become a member one would have to sign up by filling an online form (just like on any other site). Members will be opportune to chat with one another, share cheat code (codes that are used to assess the internet facilities of all major GSM network without paying), and ultimately distribute LIVE QUESTIONS. I was surprised that so many students were aware of this phenomenon and that the services on the sites are absolutely FREE OF CHARGE!

But nothing prepared me for the surprise I got when I caught two of my younger siblings looking for an internet enabled phone so that they could assess these cheating sites for one of them who was preparing for a public examination. I was angry and I put my anger across to both of them in strong words. I am not laying claim to being a saint (sainthood is not even on my list of things to achieve) but I am a modest moralist. I wrote my last WAEC and NECO in 2006 and I could swear in a law court that I was never privy to any ‘live’ question paper. I didn’t look for it and I am proud of my above average result in the said examinations. I am pretty convinced that though my younger sister is not a very brilliant student but she is bright and academically sound enough to pass the examinations in flying colours on her own. So why on earth would she be looking for live question? But the answer is simple; no one wants to work hard when there is a certain short cut to success. I now think the saying ‘there is no short cut to success’ no longer apply to these public exams in  Nigeria. Candidates now more than ever believe that there is nothing wrong in examination malpractices. A friend of mine once told me that ‘WAEC examination can never be passed without engaging in malpractices’. This kind of belief is common among candidates. I believe these students need more of help than condemnation.

For the past four years the results of WAEC and NECO examinations have been at an all-time low. In June 2009 NECO examinations, less than 2% of the candidates passed. Most candidates believe that it is impossible to pass these examinations without engaging in some malpractices. This belief has been fuelling the lamp of malpractices for years. Candidates lack confidence in their own ability and look for ways of getting good result at all costs and I mean all costs. We have heard of students who beat their teachers and examinations supervisors up because they failed to condone cheating in the examination. Government and examination bodies have been trying hard to curb this menace. It just seems their efforts are yielding little result. But the recent introduction of internet into perpetrating this evil act will even make their job harder.

Internet is not easy to control or monitor. It will not be an overstatement to say that internet is almost impossible to control. Emphasis is on impossible. The owners of these sites have devised an ingenious way of changing the name of their sites almost every week that even old members have to re-register all over again. There is no way to limiting the spreading of the questions immediately they are on these sites. So, the only way out is for the examination bodies to stop the bleeding before it even started. There is no gainsaying that the questions leak from inside the Examination Boards. These sites certainly have ‘insiders’ in the Examination Boards. It is time these traitors were shown their way out. I know this would be a difficult task as the structure of Examination Management is gargantuan and the personnel involved are numerous. But these notwithstanding, getting people of questionable characters out and closing up loopholes in the system are tasks that must be done.

 

Also, it is a high time Nigeria devised a better system at assessing our students. This might sound naive or outrightly stupid, but WAEC, NECO and JAMB have been proved times without number as a not so reliable way of assessing students ability.  The withdrawal lists of various Universities in the country will attest to this assertion. Over the years, we have placed so much emphasis on students having these certificates. It matters little in this country whether a student was serious in secondary school or even attended secondary school at all, all that matters is having either WAEC or NECO results. This has greatly helped in destroying the examinations system as everybody wants to pass at all cost and there is little anybody can do about it.

My proposition is that more emphasis should be placed on Secondary School Leaving Testimonial issued by schools in Tertiary Admission process and employment interviews. An examination system like the Scholastic Assessment Tests in the United States may also avail government and concerned boards the opportunity to effectively control the examinations. Government should also heavily invest in secondary schools. We put a lot of our emphasis on Tertiary Institutions while forgetting that Tertiary Institutions only work on the product of our secondary schools. If what secondary schools produce is garbage, it is certain that four year university training will be grossly inadequate to turn garbage into something good.

Moreover, less than 20% of secondary school leavers gain admission to Tertiary Institutions. So what happens to the remaining 80%? This means that for most Nigerians, secondary school education is the end of their education. Secondary school students should be trained in a way that will make them useful in the society even without a university education. This will help in de emphasising the importance placed on having the NECO and WAEC results and likely reduce the number of students applying for admission to our tertiary institutions. This, to me, will help our education system as well as our general society. It is high time government, institutions, and NGOs stopped rhetoric and get down to work.

P.S: I wrote this article in June, 2011 and it was published in various students’ journals and newsletters. I am reproducing it here because the issue raised in the article is still relevant and nothing is being done towards finding a solution to this problem. The questions of the just concluded UTME were already on the internet hours before the Examination. My students (I teach high school Biology) now are tirelessly searching for WAEC ‘live’ questions and are no longer attending classes. The Biology Practical Specimen list was already on the net before I even got an advance copy from WAEC. Who will save our Examination System?         



47 thoughts on “Examination Malpractices In A New, Electronic Way” by layrite (@layrite)

  1. Well put.

    Personally – I think the issue has its roots in the same stuff bothering the entire NATION. Everybody’s corrupt.

    You haven’t seen parents who come to examination centers to ‘converse’ with examiners in relation to helping their wards have an easy time of it. You’d be surprised at how many illiterate graduates our institutions churn out yearly. Haven’t you noticed that no matter your discipline – when you’re employed for a job especially in a bank or other formal sectors, the standard is usually to train you again?

    I think things are really desperate – and EVERY part of the nation is suffering it.

    1. @Seun-Odukoya. You are right. It is indication of the rot in our System. We really need to do something… But all you see from the Ministry of Education is new policy without implementation. Now they want 1-6-3-3-4. How will that extra one year change anything. The truth? We are all confused!

      Thanks for reading and for the your contribution.

  2. This issue is pretty serious. My sister wrote the last JAMB exam, she told a story of a girl who put the battery of her phone in her hair and phone in her undies, all these to beat the detector and on getting into the hall she assembled the phone.

    Students really do not read anymore, they are always on the internet. The average person thinks speaking good english amounts to knowing it; ask them to spell.

    The whole thing just goes on and on, its a bad cycle of students, parents and teachers all at fault.

    1. @dagbeyon. It is indeed pathetic. Internet should be a plus for this generation but it is indeed an big distraction. All 2go, ebuddy, facebook and no google.
      The few who really read are also failed by the Exam body. Maintaining ‘standard’ in Nigeria is tantamount to failure. We sure need urgent help.

  3. Everybody is corrupt in their own way. This would prove to be a case of the blind leading the blind.

    1. @ Bubbllinna. What are you really saying? Your comment couldn’t be more vague. Awaiting your clarification…
      But thanks for branching, if not for your input.

  4. Pluto is no longer a planet? What happened to it?
    I wish I knew of these sites long ago.

    1. @kaycee

      Pluto shrunk to roughly the size of a fist about two three years ago – so that disqualified it.

      1. So apparently when something reduces to the size of a fist it ceases to be a planet?
        Eiya, poor pluto.

    2. @ Kaycee. It is now classified as a dwarf planet. Dont you think the thing is too small to be called a planet? “Originally classified as the ninth planet from the Sun, Pluto was recategorized as a dwarf planet and plutoid due to the discovery that it is one of several large bodies within the newly charted Kuiper belt” (Wikipedia, 2012).

      Thank God you didn’t know about those sites! That would have made a you a lesser person.

  5. Even the tertiary institutions are not helping, a lot of ‘sorting’ goes on either in cash, in kind or both ways. For example, how do you expect a student who scored 256 in UTME and 70 in post- UTME to behave if he isn’t given admission in a school due to some quota system? At that point, it becomes ‘by-all-means necessary’. Soon B.A or B.Sc will become like the O’ level of today, that is if it has not started happening already.

    I don’t think change should start from the top as most people advise, it should start from the very bottom; the family.

    1. I think it should start both ways. Parents, students, government and school owners are all needed in this venture.
      I don’t pray B.Sc. becomes useless but that is what will eventually happen if nothing is done. Even today, a Masters degree is becoming pure water and less prestigious.

    2. @ taiwo-odumola. Thanks for reading and for your insightful comment.

  6. A strong arguement well put. Your dramatic presentation of such a sensitive subject is commendable. I think its a matter we all should look into. Just few days back, I was discussing with a colleague on the fallind standard of education in the country,its so appalling that students don’t aspire to make any difference in examinations through personal effort compared to when some of us had ours. The spate of Exam malpractice is growing sporadically and parents are also not helping to curb the menace. I look forward to seeing a better Nigeria. Naija I dey hail o.

  7. @ Phronesis. Thank you for your comment. The reformation (or whatever name they call it) should involve everyone. Play your part.

  8. Good article… these days, it is no more an ‘expository’ because it has all long been exposed.
    The solution to our problem is in our hands, yet I don’t mean to be pessimistic when I say that it will take TIME and serious intervention- divine and human- for things to change cos this vice is complicatedly intertwined with every other societal vice in the our country.
    At this point, where everyone is quick to backup their deeds- good or bad- with strong reasons, I can only quote the bible book of Rev. 22:11; “Let evildoers do their worst and the dirty-minded go all out in pollution, but let the righteous maintain a straight course and the holy continue on in holiness.”

    1. @ Chimzoron. As usual your submission makes absolute sense. That Bible verse is going to be my quote of the week. Can I do that, please?

      I appreciate your time and your comment.

  9. @Layrite, maybe the solution is to have continuous assessment. Grade students based on projects that they have to explain and defend; they may copy them from someone, but if they truly did the projects themselves, they will be able to defend them properly.

    Of course, the problem is the amount of time/effort it would take to do this.

    What may end up happening is that a private company may offer its own certification that employers may come to rely on. So if you want a job at a bank, you have to take an exam/assessment organised by the private company.

    1. @ Tola Odejayi. Most companies now re train their staff all over again. They all tell us we are inadequately trained. What you suggested on Examination is worthy of consideration. I just think it will be a little bit cumbersome.

      Thanks for reading this and for your insightful contribution.

  10. the whole body of Education is sick,very sick

    1. @ Ono-Edosio. A very sick system needs very urgent cure. Lets find one or ones for our education sector.

  11. Frankly and I’m afraid to say it, it ain’t gonna stop; the more they’re exposed the more they get bolder, which somehow is a good direction to solving the problem. Involve as much people as possible in an act and it becomes bad mad market for everyone- when every nigerian tenders fake certificates, a revolution is bound to happen. As unpleasant as it may sound it’s the only thing we’re limited to do, since corruption is now our culture, which like Seun said is the bedrock of these malpractices.

    1. @ablyguy. That’s cynical! But then you are likely right to a large extent. I just believe that we can at least reduce to the barest minimum if we are all ti do something. I hope corruption will cease one day to be our culture. Nothing will be achieved with it as our bedrock.

  12. I was shocked to read this. On second thoughts I realized I should not have been. It makes me wonder how bad things will get before a change will come. Corruption’s grip on our society is so strong. Dare i say God help us when we don’t look like we want to be helped. God help us.

    1. You were shocked? Sorry, hen?
      I say ahem to that prayer. I think we need it.
      Thank you for branching and your comment, and prayer.
      How is Good Friday going, @osakwe?

  13. should i call this a technological advancement of some sort? No wonder Nigeria’s education system is running down to the woods, as fast as her legs could. God save the generation yet unborn

    1. @ichadegreat. It is indeed technological advancement. That is why it is pathetic nothing is done to curb this new menace.
      I appreciate your time and your comment.

  14. WELL DRAFTED ARTICLE.I NEVER KNEW PLUTO IS NO MORE A PLANET.Simply put, we need more practicable tests that are ‘relevant’ to students’ respective choice courses.Real time question and answer will just do well.*my proposition*

  15. Sadly this issue of corruption start from the grass root
    parents,families,nations, so called leaders ,, i pray for God intervention in our Educational sector because the future of nation is at stake.

    1. @amor. Corruption is truly endemic in our country, and it affects everything and everyone.

      Thank you!

  16. @sambright. Thank you! And dont worry about Pluto, the thing impersonated planet for so long. Nemesis caught up. Lol.
    I think our leaders should coming to NS, to atleast steal idea. Your own idea is bright and worthy of consideration and discussion. The present system has failed, we need a way out of the mess.

  17. A well written article. It really addresses an issue that has been bothering me for long. I know that any time issues of exam malpractice come people tend to blame the students – they no longer read. But, I beg to disagree here. Unless someone gives me statistics that says so and so number of Nigerian students no longer read or I am told that a certain percentage of students does not read texts that are outside of their syllabus.
    The society is to blame too. Check out these questions of mine about the just released JAMB UTME :
    There are two questions bothering my mind about the recently releases JAMB UTM Exams. First, 3 out of 1.5million candidates who wrote the exams scored 300. How come? Is it not high time we asked JAMB to let us in to marking schemes. Don’t they have. Methinks it unfair for candidates to write any exam without them knowing how they will be examined. Other exam bodies, both national and international, do tell candidates how they are going to be scored. Why is JAMB different?
    Second, no questions came out from the recommended for Use of English (Chukwuemeka Ike’s the Potters Wheel and Jerry Agada’s the Successors). I strongly believe that the 1.5 million candidates who bought the two texts and their parents deserve some form of explanation and apology. After all, the current JAMB syllabus allocates certain percentage of marks to questions likely to come from the texts. So,

    1. @rasheed. You have raised some important issues. I ve always have reservation about Jamb and their marking scheme. No one seems to know anything about it. Do they have negative marking? Do they reduce candidates marks arbitrarily? Or are candidates that dunce? I think people should start asking questions of these examinations bodies. Unless we are able to salvage the Examination system any effort at salvaging tertiary institutions will be futile.

      Thank you very much for caring about our future.

    2. Since you asked. I shall tell. Students no longer read. If you want to know? That is if you are passionate enough, take a volunteer class at a public school. Let me know your experience.

      1. @brownieowolabi. Personally, I dont need to go to schools, I teach in school. I went to public school and my younger ones also attended public schools(not FGC or Unity schl. I mean real public schools). So I know. Give me a statistics that proves that students dont read again at all . I know that our students have a lot of distractions but that they dont read at all is an over statement. Even at that, who is to blame for this problem? The students? We cant always blame the victim. It is unfair.

      2. @brownieowolabi. Personally, I dont need to go to schools, I teach in school. I went to public school and my younger ones also attended public schools(not FGC or Unity schl. I mean real public schools). So I know. Give me a statistics that proves that students dont read again at all . I know that our students have a lot of distractions but that they dont read at all is an over statement. Even at that, who is to blame for this problem? The students? We cant always blame the victim. It is unfair.

        But thank you for reading and for your comment. I beleive that together we can change our country for better.

      3. @brownieowolabi. Personally, I dont need to go to schools, I teach in school. I went to public school and my younger ones also attended public schools(not FGC or Unity schl. I mean real public schools). So I know. Give me a statistics that proves that students dont read again at all . I know that our students have a lot of distractions but that they dont read at all is an over statement. Even at that, who is to blame for this problem? The students? We cant always blame the victim. It is unfair.

        But thank you for reading and for your comment. I believe that together we can change our country for better.

        1. I feel your pain and trust me, you are not alone. The thing is, compared to another time, students really do not read as much. I don’t think that anyone is saying that students do not read at all. What I am saying is, if you do teach, especially arts and commercial classes, you will discover that the students do not make much effort to understand the class, let alone read at home. If you disagree, thats totally alright. I do agree with you that they are victims to some extent. Maybe if we get to chat we can compare notes. But i wouldn’t completely absolve them of all blame.

          1. @brownieowolabi. I think we are basically saying the same thing, we just differ on the ‘extent’. And believe me, I would be the last person to absolve students of all the blames. They can certainly do better they are doing now. But at the same time, the system needs to get better and fairer, in order to appreciate hard work and justly punish laziness.

            Maybe we can get together online sometimes and chat. I like talking with people of like mind. Thank you!

  18. Do we read to know or do we read to pass?? This issue of examination malpractice on the internet is really saddening. I had some course mates in the university who my 8 year old cousin could read better than. Now, they are graduates and they can’t even read Eze Goes To School fluently.

    I think family is to blame. Family and individuals. We make our choices so why blame it on the government?? The moment parents encourage their children to shy away from these things, I think things will get better.

    Training children is a psychological thing so its not about flogging them to read cause that will make them seek for solutions outside but its about helping them to learn how to read…

    The change actually begins with we the individuals. If nobody accessed the site, they’ll definitely close down cause no one is patronising. Individuals are to blame and the ugly truth is: laws are made to be broken… Some people will never shy away from malpractice.

    1. @gooseberry. A brilliant contribution from a brilliant writer. Thanks for coming.

  19. I have always wondered the kind of educational system my children will grow into, looking at the trend of events in the last few years.
    I believe just as others have pointed out,that the current state is actually a reflection of the whole system as a whole, Our problem is not corruption,, but a lack of proper and positive values as a society.
    Thank you for your writeup

    1. @abbey. Thank you for reading.

  20. I want to make three clear points.
    1. What is going on in NIgeria is not education. What manner of education is it, that places so much emphasis on certificates and “flying colors”?
    2. Exam malpractice is a consequence of the sickness of the larger society. The primitive desire to acquire marks originates – or at least is evident – from the public space where we demonstrate an insatiable desire to acquire everything – chieftaincy titles, national awards, honors, certificates and more wealth than we would ever need.
    3. It is a culture of laziness, encouraged by a take and chop mentality that is championed by out “leaders” at all levels who forge certificates and election results to “win” the mandate of the people.

    Ladies and gentlemen, the problem is indiscipline.

    1. @Prof Nigeria. Your submission makes absolute sense! I pray the situation improve, but we all need to do our parts. Thank you, sir.

  21. mtchewww… I wish I had know these site all these while… please are there sites that expo unprofessional exams? no time!

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