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Exam Ethics: Onyechere Paves The Way Forward

Titus Eleweke

A Non Government Organisation (NGO), Exam Ethics has appealed to the incoming government of General Muhammadu Buhari to take a decisive posture on the examination malpractices and corruption in the nation’s education sector. Exam Ethics also said that examinations fraud cost Nigeria N100b annually, saying that if the examination malpractices were checkmated, the country will be saving for herself enough money to develop the sector. According to the body, examination malpractices, academic dishonesty and corruption in the education sector are the root cause of corruption in the wider society; saying that unless corruption was eradicated in the education sector, Nigeria will continue to battle corruption endlessly.

In a statement issued by the chairman of Exam Ethics, Mr. Ike Onyechere, the 2015 general elections confirmed that eradication of corruption was number one concern of every Nigerian and called on the incoming administration to make sure that examinations malpractices and other corrupt practices in the sector become thing s of the past. “With the scope and scale of corruption in the education sector , too many schools have become breeding grounds for potential fraudsters, where leaders of tomorrow are groomed on diets of fraud, malpractice and dishonesty, where the processes of admissions, training, examination, certification, registration and regulation are hopelessly compromised and criminalized” he said .

According to Onyechere , Exam Ethics is recommending an 8-point programme action to checkmate malpractices and corruption in the nation’s education sector and they include, the re-launching of exam malpractice blacklist initiative designed to shame invigilators, supervisors and schools that were involved in aiding and abetting malpractices, directing all tertiary institutions regulatory agencies to take action on recent government White Papers on the state of tertiary institutions; re-visiting the Need Assessment Report on Federal Public Universities with a view to identifying and sanctioning those involved in criminalizing the tertiary education process; setting up task teams to carry out re-accreditation of all courses in all public and private universities in the country in view of damning report on the accreditation process by the Need Assessment committee, re-validating the educational qualifications of all workers in Federal Ministry of Education, Agencies and Institutions as nobody can give what he does not have.

Compelling certified professional associations to institute stronger self-regulatory mechanisms and directing West African Examinations Council (WAEC), National Examinations Council (NECO) and other public Examination Boards to make public names of candidates disqualified from taking their examinations across the country. Providing leadership and institutional support for Exam Ethics to enable it sustain the campaign against corruption in education sector which it started since 1996.

According to him, there is general agreement on cost and consequences of corruption in undermining social, economic and political development efforts of the nation and Nigerians are also in agreement with the fact that corruption in education was the source of pervasive corruption in the wider society.

“The consequences of corruption in education are particularly fundamental, pre-eminent and most devastating for the society. This is so, because it is the role of education to produce leaders, professionals, workers and citizens with the character to shun corruption and those with competences to transform national potentials into developmental realities. Our education sector is not playing these roles because it has become a breeding ground for corrupt practices.

It has become a place where leaders of tomorrow are groomed on diets of fraud, the processes of admissions, training, examination, certification, registration and regulation is now criminalized”. “Unless the war against corruption starts and succeeds in the education sector, Nigeria will continue to be pervasive and perpetual in corruption as well as continuing to indoctrinate fertile minds of the nation’s youngsters with the corrupt ideologies” he added.

According to him, there is an urgent need to rebuild the moral and ethical infrastructure of the nation’s education, restore ethics, integrity and best practices in education as well as to promote adherence to code of truth, honour and integrity around which the search for and dissemination of knowledge revolve   “Corruption in education is symbolized by the epidemic of pervasive and systemic examination malpractice and academic dishonesty.

Most Nigerians still make the mistake of thinking that examination malpractice is a simple act of indiscretion by students to cheat. Examination malpractices have metamorphosed into organized criminal activities like drug and human trafficking, kidnapping, advanced fee scams.

It is now a big criminal business controlled by criminal syndicates with links and a lot of members are in education ministries, agencies, boards and institutions as well as in examination councils. The street value of organized examination fraud operated by syndicates is estimated to be in excess of N100 billion per year in Nigeria.

Exam fraud syndicates operate with extreme impunity because there is lack of political will to implement sanctions and because almost all categories of stakeholders, including some political leaders, are members of exam fraud syndicates.” It is a common knowledge that some principals, teachers, supervisors, invigilators and officials of education ministries and examination boards aid and abet mass cheating in exams, in partnership with syndicates who operate “Exam Magic Centers” or “Special Centres”.

The various exam boards treat the names of the collaborators as top state secrets and reel out only the statistics of conniving officials yearly, without mentioning the names of perpetrators. Since no person knows their names and identities, except a few people in State ministries of education to whom the names are disclosed as top secret and with whom they share the proceeds, the fraudsters are recycled every year to continue with the “business”.

In 2007, the ministry of education released blacklisted names of 324 schools operating as Magic Centres across the country and among the schools blacklisted were those operated by Faith based Organisations, State Governments, Private Proprietors, and Law Enforcement Agencies. “The Ministry also released a blacklist of 232 individuals removed as Examiners, Supervisors and Invigilators of public examinations for aiding and abetting malpractices. In addition to the blacklists, the names of the schools and individuals were published in National Newspapers’.

‘Exam malpractice and academic dishonesty are corrupt practices that undermine the code of honour associated with education and its mission to provide society with competent change agents.

But the most serious consequence is the breeding of licensed assassins by certification of incompetent professionals including medical doctors, pharmacists, medical laboratory scientists, nurses, architects, building engineers, quantity surveyors, pilots, public servants, corporate executives, project managers, accountants, auditors and journalists who are killing people on daily basis due to avoidable fatal errors of omission and commission and corrupt practices in education sector’.

The real danger to society is that licensed assassins cannot be stopped because they are covered by certifications and licenses awarded by educational institutions.

“Ordinarily the situation could be contained by regulatory processes of professional associations. But it is a known fact that the biggest catalyst for corruption is the collapse of professional ethics and regulatory mechanisms of professional associations. Government should commence a process of compelling professional bodies to weed out incompetent operators and quacks whose incompetences are killing Nigerians”.

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