Examination malpractice as an atomic bomb

As the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) continues its ongoing Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) that started last Friday (April 19, 2024), and for which some 1,985,642 candidates had registered, it is auspicious to underscore the significance of eschewing examination malpractice in Nigeria. This is because examination malpractice is the incubator of corruption and combating corruption must begin from fighting examination malpractice to a standstill. In fact, it takes examination malpractice to destroy a nation, not atomic bombs, as will be reiterated here.

Fortunately, the imperative of stamping examination malpractice out of the polity is not lost on the Registrar of JAMB, Prof. Is-haq O. Oloyede, a man of impregnable integrity, who has set a new standard in public service with his avowed commitment to ensuring that right things are done and things are done right. This commitment is manifesting in the ongoing examinations which took off successfully. As a former Minister of Education, Prof. Chinwe Obaji, noted last Friday while on an inspection mission, “There are neither technical hitches nor biometric issues that bedeviled past exams. Thanks to the JAMB Registrar, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, and his reforms….”

To guard against compromising the integrity of the examinations, JAMB had warned parents, some of whom are fond of aiding and abetting examination malpractice by roaming around the examination centres. With a threat of arrest and prosecution dangling on the heads of those who may want to cheat or facilitate it, the signal is clear that the violators of law and regulation will face the music of their indiscretion.

Basically, examination malpractice must be construed as it is –  a grievous crime. As far back as 1984, the Federal Military Government had promulgated Decree 20 which was meant to destroy the cankerworm of examination malpractice. The decree states that anyone “who fraudulently or with intent to cheat or secure unfair advantage to himself or any other person on in abuse of his office, produces, sells or buys or otherwise deals with any question paper intended for the examination of persons at any examination or commits any of the offences specified in Section 3 (2,7) (c) of this Decree, shall be guilty of an offence and on conviction be sentenced to 21 years imprisonment.”

The Examination Malpractice Act 33 of 1999 revisits the issue and stipulates a minimum punishment of fifty thousand naira (50,000.00) and a maximum of five years imprisonment, without an option of fine, for violators of the acts described in the Act. The offences identified in the Act are cheating at examinations, stealing of question papers, impersonation, disturbances at examination, obstruction of supervision, forgery of result slip, breach of duty, conspiracy and aiding, etc.

Rather than obey the law, do the right thing and shun examination malpractice, candidates and students over time have become innovative in perpetrating the act, which can easily erode confidence in the Nigerian education system. It is a national tragedy that some schools also engage in this vice through impersonating candidates, colluding with other candidates to penetrate fraud and encouraging mass cheating.

Without mincing words, the best way on the part of students to guard against examination malpractice is proper preparation. When candidates prepare adequately, they are confident of sitting examinations and succeeding. Poor preparation induces lack of confidence followed by desperation. It is also important that school proprietors prioritise decency, honesty and integrity rather than compromise the future of their students and sabotage the nation just to feather their own nest through unmerited recognitions and undeserved patronage.

The general degeneration and pervasive corruption in the Nigerian society can both be traced in a way to examination malpractice because it has a multiplier effect on the society. Urgent and sustained efforts against examination malpractice are of utmost importance. This is because it has been reported that a university gate in South Africa has the following message which is worthy of contemplation and action:

“Destroying any nation does not require the use of atomic bombs or the use of long range missiles. It only requires lowering the quality of education and allowing cheating in the examination by students. Patients die in the hands of such doctors. Buildings collapse at the hands of such engineers. Money is lost at the hands of such economists and accountants. Humanity dies at the hands of such religious scholars. Justice is lost at the hands of such judges. The collapse of education is the collapse of the nation.”

To prevent Nigeria from utter collapse, it is expedient that we put all hands on deck to prevent and severely punish examination malpractice. This is a worthy fight that only the worthy can fight. Are we worthy?