CHECKING EXAMINATION MALPRACTICE IN NIGERIAN SCHOOLS
Dr. (Mrs.)A.O. Oredein,
Institute of Education,
Olabisi Onabanjo University,
The dimensions of examination malpractice in schools are discussed. The
paper also discussed the use of moral instruction as a way of managing students’
examination malpractices in schools. Examination malpractice tends to relegate
certificates issued at different levels of education. The level of this corruption in
society inadvertently originated from primary and secondary schools. It is now
affecting our tertiary institutions and thus has become a societal problem. ft is
however noted that students are not the only culprits and so there are needs for
urgent moral instruction for all educational stakeholders. Among other
recommendations, it was suggested that a good foundation of self-discipline and
moral character be laid for youths.
One of the objectives of education in Nigeria is to prepare the young ones
to face future challenges and develop them to meet the nation’s manpower
requirements. Schools need to conduct examinations as yardstick for
assessment. It is the most practical way of assessment in education Maduka
(1993) defined examination as a way to ascertain how much of a subject matter
in a particular field of study the candidate has mastered. Homby (1995) defined
an examination as a formal lest of somebody ‘s knowledge or ability in a
particular subject, especially by means o f answering questions or practical
exercises (p. 58). Balogun (1999) also defined it as the process through which
students are evaluated or tested to find out the quality of knowledge they have
acquired within a specified period.
Examinations could be internal or external. It could be oral, written or both.
Examples of internal examinations are continuous assessment tests, terminal,
semester and annual or promotion examinations. Examples of external (public)
examinations common in Nigerian schools are Common Entrance Examination
for admission into secondary school. School certificates examination are
conducted by West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National
Examination Council (NECO). The Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB)
and National Teachers’ Institute (NT!) conduct admission tests into tertiary
institutions while the National Business and Technical Examination Board
(NABTEB) conducts professional examinations for teachers and technicians
Examination malpractice is any wrong doing before, during or after any
examination. Although one may not be able to rule out examination malpractice
in the past, the current trend is alarming and calls for proper management in
order to rid the school system of its consequences. Whereas in the past,
students tended to hide the acts, now they advertise them with positive blatancy.
The things that others thought right to draw a veil across, the modern biographer
reveals with all the gusto of a showman. Ruwa(1997) traced back examination
malpractice to 1914. He further reported that in the University of Maiduguri, about
25% of the students interviewed admitted to have engaged in one form of
examination malpractice or another. Examination malpractice occurs in both
internal and external examinations. In short, it has become an epidemic in the
nation’s educational system, which needs a prompt attention. New paragraph the
situation of examination malpractice is so embarrassing to the nation that the
federal military government in 1984, promulgated Decree 20 to deal with it. Part
of the Decree reads thus:
Any person who fraudulently or with intent to cheat or secure any unfair
advantage to himself or any other person or 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... (Fagbemi, 1998, p.1 7)
However, Examination Malpractice Act 33 of 1999 revised the above
decree but now stipulates punishment ranging from a fine of N50, 000.00 to N
100, 000.00 and imprisonment for a term of 3-4 years with or without option of
fine. This new development is due to the inability of the appropriate authorities to
enforce the old Decree 20 of 1985. Despite all these laws, examination
malpractice has been on the increase and this may be due to nonimplementation
of the laws. Reasons for it being the low moral standard in
schools, candidates’ fear of failure, lack of confidence in themselves, inadequate
preparation, laziness and ‘419’ syndrome that have eaten deep into the life of the
society. Pratt (1981) stated that students are likely to cheat when they are not
prepared for examinations. Ruwa (1997) as well reported that university lecturers
are of the opinion that inadequate teaching and learning facilities, poor conditions
of service of teachers fear of failure by students and admission of unqualified
candidates into universities are responsible for examination malpractices.
Fayombo (2004) categorised the reasons for examination malpractices into
psychological and sociological causes. The over dependence on certification has
led to ‘mad ruch’ by the populace and the resultant effect is that people either
acquire certificates legimately or otherwise. This messy situation is having a
negative effect on the nation’s quality of education and the kind of certificates
issued to students at different levels. So many people can no longer defend their
Okwilagwe (2001) opined that the interest in non-intellectual factors would
seem to have stemmed from the idea that “the human being is a complex whole”
That is, man is made up of intellectual, emotional, affective and psychological
traits. For them to develop and reach their full potential in life, these traits must
be understood, harnessed, and be catered for by the school. Students’
involvement examination malpractices has become perennial and
institutionalised. It is a testimonial to the flawed process of admission into
secondary schools and tertiary institutions. It has invariably, reflected in the
multifaceted crises in the nation’s educational system.
Moral instruction is the detailed information, which concerns the principles
of right and wrong behaviours. The study of moral development has become a
lively growth industry within the social sciences. Theories have maintained that
human morality springs from emotional disposition that are hardwired into our
species. Man is a complete entity, and there is no emphasis on the development
of the whole individual that can play Out morals. All children are born with a
running start on the path to moral development. These children grow up to
become adults in society. This is the more reason why children should be trained
in self-discipline and filled with useful information. Education expects to provide a
full Training for children, and the training involves examination and other forms of
assessment from time to time to ascertain the level of knowledge / skill
acquisition. This is the more reason why examinations must be well managed.
Farrant (1964) states that educationists are often tempted to over-concentrate on
certain aspects of the child’s make-up to the detriment of the others. The focus of
this paper therefore is on how moral instruction could be used for managing
examination malpractice in schools.
Dimensions of Examination Malpractices
Year-in-year-out, students come up with new dimensions of examination
malpractices. This is the more reason why drastic steps must be taken. The
instances of examination malpractices vary. They range from impersonation,
leakage of questions, tampering with results, computer fraud to fraudulent
practices by invigilators, officials and security personnel charged with supervising
examinations. Parents are not left out of the business. Some of these dimensions
are discussed below:
1. Bringing of foreign materials into examination hall: This is a situation
where students bring into the examination hall notes, textbooks, and other
prepared materials. The method is nicknamed as hide and seek,
microchips, tattoo and magic desk. Sometimes, students bring into the hail
unauthorized materials like sophisticated and scientific calculators or fourfigure
tables. Abba(1998) identified some methods like giraffing,
contraband, bullet, super print, escort, missiles, pregnant biros and so on.
2. Assistance from educational stakeholders: Examination stakeholders
include parents, teachers, lecturers, supervisors, security agents, printers and
staff of examination bodies. Some parents go to any length in buying question
papers for their children while some others even buy certificates for their
children. Supervisors colluding with teachers, school principals or students by
allowing teachers to come around to teach the students during the
examination period; lecturers or teachers releasing question papers or giving
underserved marks or allowing students to illegally re-take examination
papers. Security agents, printers and staff of examination bodies also sell
question papers. Afolabi (1998) stated that :
leakage is one problem which appear to defy all solutions. Its persistence,
despite methods of blocking loopholes, is an indication of the malaise and
corruption in society
3. Irregular Activities inside and outside the examination halls: Students
who had the mind to cheat exhibit strange and unwholesome behaviours. They
use various such methods as:
(i) Stealing, converting, substituting or misappropriating the scripts of other
(ii) Substituting worked scripts during or after an examination.
(iii) Tearing part of the question paper or answer booklet during the examination
to enhance cheating.
(iv) Seeking and receiving helps from other candidates.
4. Impersonation: This a situation where a candidate sits in an examination for
another candidate, thereby pretending to be the real or original candidate.
Impersonation is becoming very rampant, even among school candidates.
Afolabi (1998) listed various methods that have been devised by students and
(a) Posing as a bona-fide candidate: impersonators write the examination on
behalf of the candidate they are impersonating. Under-graduates and graduate
youth Corpers engage in this type of cheating.
(b) Entry for similar subjects: the plot is hatched right from the entry stage by
making the impersonator to enter for the same subjects and sit for the
examinations in the hail with the candidate; he writes the candidate’s name and
number on his booklet while the candidate writes the impersonator’s and they
exchange scripts before submitting.
(c) Multiple entries: that is candidates entering for the same examination in
several parts of the locality.
It has also been observed that several candidates struggle unnecessarily
for live question papers at the beginning of a paper which are then passed to
touts for assistance. Also, candidates deliberately come into the hail with the sole
aim of smuggling the question paper out as soon as the paper starts and bringing
the solution inside later.
5. Insult or Assault on Examination Officials: There are cases of students
insulting examination officials as they carry out their businesses. The aim is to
distract them from effective supervision, so that they can have a way out.
Sometimes students disturb the conduct of examinations due to poor
6. Electronically assisted malpractices: In recent times, it has been
discovered that students make use of electronic gadgets to cheat during
examinations. Such things as unauthorized scientific calculators, organizers,
compact disc (the smallest size) and mobile phones (GSM) to take advantage of
7. Collusion: This is a situation where two or more candidates agree to receive
or give assistance to each other. If it is verbal, this is called ECOMOG or ECO
WAS. Maduabum (1998) identified the use of terms like ‘laya’, Ecornog, and so
on, which are also common among students. Afolabi (1998) said that
collusion involves exchange of scripts, passing notes for help from outside and
inside the hail; delaying commencement of examination in one centre to obtain
question paper from nearby centre which has started, collusion, arising from
bribes or threat to the lives and/or property of supervisors...
8. Mass cheating: Candidates in an examination hail at times are massively
involved in one or some of the irregularities aforementioned.
9. Inscription: Students have now advanced to the level of inscribing materials
or information on anything like parts of their body, for example palms, thighs,
baby pampers; dresses, handkerchiefs, rulers, purses, chairs, tables, walls of
examination halls and so on. Some student even code points and synthesize
their notes in such a way that they will be the only one that could understand and
use them for cheating.
10. Personality Connection: There are cases where some influential students
make use of godfathers in politics, economic high towers, parents, and cult
members to influence the outcome of examinations.
Dangers of Examination Malpractices
Some of the dangers of examination malpractices include:
a. Not being able to defend the certificate (failure in job performance).
b. Perpetual condemnation of the conscience.
c. Possibility of unfulfilled dreams and vision, if the student is rusticated from
school or terminated at the working place.
d. Spill over effect borne by parents and other relatives of culprits.
e. The culprit may be initiated into a system of dishonesty and corrupt practices
by which they become hardened.
f. it makes nonsense of the educational system and it militates against the
country’s goal of technological advancement.
g. it discredits certificates issued by national examination bodies and institutions
of higher learning and the nation as a whole.
i. It makes students to loose the ability to study or work hard in their studies.
j. When a candidate is caught and expelled, there will be no certificate to show
for whatever year(s) they might have put into their educational career.
Ways of Managing Examinations
There are certain truths that every student needs to be reminded of from
time to time, and the consequences of examination malpractices is one of them.
Every effort must be made to stop it as quickly as possible before it becomes a
serious epidemic in the society. The following steps will help in managing
examination bodies and schools to reduce malpractice:
• All staff of examination bodies should be well paid so that they will not be
enticed with money.
• Examination papers should not be within the reach of the security agents.
• Posting of Supervisors should be changed on daily or weekly basis. Invigilators
to conduct examinations in a ratio of about one to twenty students.
• Sitting arrangement of students should be changed on daily or weekly basis.
Students could be arranged according to their registration\examination numbers
• Efforts should be made to inspect all examination centres at least once daily.
• Parents and communities should train-up their children to imbibe the traditional
values of honesty, hard-work, fairness, uprightness at home and be
complemented by schools.
• Government should provide condusive-leaming environment in schools by
providing learning facilities and enhanced remuneration for teachers.
• Enough resources must be made available for the conduct of examinations
(Ene and Ursula, 1998).
• Examination bodies, school administrators and government should encourage
individuals and groups towards prevention of examination malpractices like the
EXPO WAR SIMULATION GAME and activities of EXAMS Society of Nigeria.
• Examination bodies and Chief Executives of educational institutions should
plant secret cameras in halls to monitor examinees.
• Government should be serious with Act 33 of 1999 and enforce it. (Fagbemi,
• Proper orientation on avoiding examination malpractices and its consequences
of all new students in all institutions at their resumption.
• National campaign on the values of honesty and integrity may help in
combating leakage and other irregularities.
• External examination bodies should publish the rules and regulations guiding
their examinations. Schools, teachers and students must be compelled to have a
• Schools and examination halls must be in order, well equipped and arranged
before the commencement of the examination. There must be enough personnel
• Principals, teachers, lecturers, need to be tutored on consequences of
examination malpractices and anyone caught to be remotely involved in
examination malpractices should be summarily dismissed.
• Techniques for identifying specific causes of examination malpractices in
various schools and how to eliminate them should be made known to school
• There should be a department or committee for both external and internal
examinations. This department or committee should ensure that justice reigns,
rules are appropriately adhered to and only those adjudged guilty are
recommended for punishment. The department or committee should pay prompt
attention to malpractice cases.
• Embossment of candidates photographs as practiced by WAEC could be on all
external examinations, tertiary institution and National Youth Services Corps
certificates as a way of curbing impersonation.
• Candidates caught cheating should have their results cancelled or barred from
future examinations (for external examinations). For internal examinations,
students caught cheating should be rusticated or expelled, their names should be
published in newspapers and the school authority should inform their parents.
• Tertiary institutions should always examine the new students immediately they
resume and the students who do not meet up with the required level of
performance should not be registered
. For all examinations, students should not sit too close to each other and they
should be checked very well before they start their papers.
The dimensions of examination malpractices and its current status have
been discussed. Also, the paper looked into the dangers ahead if the epidemic is
not curbed. The paper has also identified moral instruction and agents through
which it could be disseminated to students as a way of managing examination
practices. If all efforts are not geared towards managing the examinations in
schools the implication is that malpractices will increase and certificates issued at
all levels will become useless, not recognised locally and internationally. The
nation would be producing half-baked graduates. If we know that corrective steps
should be taken if education will continue to serve as bedrock of development of
our nation rather than becoming a prey to other nations through this cankerworm
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