Education, being a process of teaching and learning is evaluated through examination at the end of the learning period. Examination not only serves as a feedback for the trainer to ascertain the level of knowledge acquisition but also serves as a measure of knowledge retention by the trainee. Any misconduct or irregularity distorts this feedback mechanism and gives a false outcome of the learning process.
According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (5th ed.), education is a process of teaching and learning. Akaranga & Ongong (2013) says that education is a necessary process through which young adults are equipped to lead productive lives according to their talents and interests. Through education, learners are not only taught, trained, and adequately guided to acquire relevant skills and knowledge but also how to adapt to acceptable public life. To some people, education is seen as a means of overcoming handicaps, achieving greater equality, and acquiring wealth and status for all. It is also often perceived as a place where children can develop according to their unique needs and potentials, with the purpose of developing every individual to their full potential.
The early years of schooling focuses around developing basic interpersonal communication and literacy skills. Later, education turns towards gaining the knowledge and skills needed to create value and establish a livelihood. Also, people pursue education for its own sake to satisfy innate curiosity, out of interest in a specific subject or skill, or for overall personal development.
The western knowledge acquisition system or formal education is measured on certificates. Yet, certificate is not a full proof of knowledge retention. Before certificate is awarded, the students have to be assessed or examined in the field they have been trained.
Nnam & Inah (2015) notes that examination is a yardstick against which students or candidates’ competence and progress are formally measured and appraised in the education sector. According to Emaikwu (2012), examination as part of evaluation in education is aimed at determining a learner’s level of skill acquisition or intellectual competence and understanding after a given training. Evaluation usually enables the teacher to be effectively ready for further teaching as this forms a feedback. George & Ukpong (2013) opines that examination is the most common tool around which the entire. System of education revolves; it is the instrument used to decide who is permitted to move to the next academic
Examination Malpractice Act (1999) explains examination malpractice as any act of omission or commission by a person who in anticipation of, before, during or after any examination fraudulently secure any unfair advantage for himself or any other person in such a manner that contravenes the rules and regulations to the extent of undermining the validity, reliability, authenticity of the examination and ultimately the integrity of the certificates issued.
Onuka & Amusan (2008) cited in Onuka & Durowoju (2013) defined examination malpractice as any dishonest or unauthorized action or deed committed by a student on his own or in collaboration with others like fellow students, guardians, parents, teachers, head teacher, examination officials, supervisors, invigilators, security officers and anybody or group of people before, during or after examination in order to obtain undeserved marks or grades.
From all the definitions, it is clear that examination malpractice tends to confer undue advantage or undeserved grade to the perpetrators of the act. Again, it may be committed by not only the candidates but also by other bodies charged with the responsibilities of examination management. Undoubtedly, examination malpractice has been a social problem for decades, but the rate and manner it is perpetrated nowadays calls for serious concern.
The rate of this crime has become so widespread that there is virtually no examination anywhere at all levels and outside the formal school system that there is no one form of illegal practice or another, (Nnam & Inah, 2015; Ojonemi et al., 2013). Examination malpractices are common everywhere and every examination season witnesses the emergence of new and ingenious ways of cheating.
It is in view of the above factors among other worrying scenarios that we invite our able guest to take us through the motivations and underlying causes of exams malpractices in our educational institutions.
Ladies and gentlemen, sit still as we bring you a most interactive and informative session on our social Media Monk as usual.
Bassing: Good evening Readers! It is time for us to start our programme for tonight. It is yet another beautiful Friday evening as the Readers’ Hub brings to you another interactive and insightful segment on its Social Media Monk session. My name is Bassing. Kamal and I am your moderator for tonight. Indeed, I’m most grateful for the latitude granted me to moderate this session. Your participation is highly anticipated.
Tonight, the thematic concern of our discourse is dubbed: Unraveling the motivations and underlying causes of Exams Malpractices in Ghanaian Educational Institutions.
To help us discuss the topic for tonight is one of our ardent readers who shall help us unravel the motivations and underlying causes of the rampant cases of exams malpractices in all sectors of our Educational Institutions.
Please help me welcome our guest for tonight’s programme. Mr. Abdul-Moomen Tahiru (Strongman). Sir, you are most welcome!
Mr. Abdul-Moomen Tahiru: Thank you. I feel highly privileged and honored to be here.
Bassing: To set the ball rolling, we would want to know some of the exam malpractices and in which forms do they manifest in Ghana, and other West African countries?
Mr. Abdul-Moomen Tahiru: Thank you once again brother Kamal. Good evening to all members of this great family. It is actually a great honour to be on this seat.
Examination malpractice embodies the various ways in which the integrity of an examination is compromised by flouting examination regulations, resulting in cheating during an examination mainly to gain undeserved advantage. This is usually perpetuated through:
- leakages of the examination questions
- cheating through collusion or swapping of scripts,
- smuggling of answers to replace the real one written by the candidates
- mass cheating among others
The various ways of cheating mentioned are miraculously almost the same in most of the West African Countries.
Bassing: This is very interesting and revealing. So, from your submissions, tell us: What exactly have teachers being teaching their students that they fail to teach their students properly in the classroom but choose to instead, teach them in the exam hall?
Mr. Abdul-Moomen Tahiru Frankly speaking, teachers are just teaching to, as it were; cover the topics in the syllabus. The problem with the teacher factor is that, some of us are very lazy and are therefore unable to complete our syllabuses, a reason for which we will use foul means to get the students through to the next level.
Secondly, it is generally noticed that the success or otherwise of the student in this final examination is the biggest determinant of the performance of the teacher
Though not based on any research, all of us (I mean society) seem to have accepted it to extents that, in recent times, governments have started to consider remunerating teachers based on the performance of the students. Not long ago, the current minister of education mentioned it.
Following this development, one can then conclude that, even if the teacher doesn’t teach anything during the period but can find ways and means to let the student pass, he will be hailed and counted or every promoted
Bassing: Who should be held more responsible or who is mainly blamable for exam malpractices? Is it WAEC officials, or schools – teachers and students or parents; and why?
Mr. Abdul-Moomen Tahiru What a question!! Held responsible? Some WAEC officials have chosen to monetize the process and have made it an annual affair. It is they who bring out the questions to sell to their customers – teachers students and parents.
From the basic level through to the university, CERTIFICATE has become so important that no matter one’s level of knowledge and skill, you need to present a certificate in order to be admitted to the next level or employed in any institution. As a result, parents, teachers and students will usually approach exams like rabid dogs thirsty for blood.
As for the institutions, they had begun to get involved when authorities started grading schools according to performance by students. If this doesn’t stop, institutions will never stop being involved, especially private schools who now have a giant notice board at the entrance of the school to publish their results.so all of them have their interest levels
Bassing: But why have passing exams, rather than gaining knowledge and skills, become the focus of our educational system?
Mr. Abdul-Moomen Tahiru: The reason is simple. At every stage in our educational ladder, we have more students than we can contain at the next level. So, examination then becomes the ONLY YARDSTICK against which a students’ competence and progress can be FORMALLY measured and appraised. With the bookish nature of our educational system, examination has become the most common tool around which the entire system of education revolves.
Bassing: Impressive! But sir, In Ghana, it will be strange and a miracle if WAEC ever conducts exams without recording cases of exam questions ‘leakages’ and or “apor” in the local parlance. To the contrary, it has become the norm and expectation that the questions for every single exam, conducted by WAEC, ‘leaks’.
Would you corroborate the assertion that exam malpractices, which supposed to be treated as an institutional and systemic anomaly, has been normalized and WAEC is complicit by not pursuing pragmatic measures to exterminate ‘leakages’ and other exam malpractices from its institutional culture?
Mr. Abdul-Moomen Tahiru: The problem of examination malpractices has taken bigger dimensions than just the examining body. If we want to face reality, I should say that WAEC and the other examination bodies alone cannot be left in this fight. The almost regular leaking of exams questions in Ghana and/or any other country in West Africa is usually orchestrated by all the other stakeholders in the process. Parents are, for instance, restless and will not stop at anything in their quest for ‘apo’. Educational institutions have always done everything possible to corrupt the system to their advantage. Even surprising is the strong involvement by remedial schools lately. Some of them go as far as chasing to the coordination center where their scripts are being marked. They will exhaust all possible means. So, we cannot single out the examining body as being complacent in the fight against this menace
Bassing: Cancelling examinations seem to be one of the effective deterrents for exterminating exams malpractice in Ghana.
(a) Why is WAEC reluctant and or otherwise, neglectful to introduce and enforce more punitive measures, which includes criminalizing exam malpractices, to expunge exam malpractice in Ghana?
(b) By this ineptitude, would you say WAEC is complicit in normalizing an anomaly (exam malpractice)?
Mr. Abdul-Moomen Tahiru Not at all. WAEC has enough policies and checks to deter us from engaging in the act. What has become the major issue as pointed out above is the way all of us have accepted and endorsed the practice and are always ready to device sophisticated ways to ‘dodge’ WAEC.
Bassing: There seem to be two big threats to the maintenance of the credibility and standards of our education system.
The first issue has to do with politicization of our educational system, and the second is sexualisation of our educational system.
The second threat is the point of interest for the purposes of our discussion today
Now going forward, concerns about “sex for grades” are gathering momentum in our tertiary institutions.
Do you think “sex for grades” has been deployed as a blackmailing weapon against male lecturers in our tertiary institutions or it is a reality that we should acknowledge, confront and rectify as a country to salvage the sanctity and credibility of our educational system?
Mr. Abdul-Moomen Tahiru: The issue of sex-for-grade in our tertiary institutions is a long-aged reality. All of us need to approach it in a tactile manner. Sometimes, it is ignited by the female students though most times the *libidinal eye* of the lecturer or close paddy of the lecturer will see the needy lady first. We need to cultivate an innate desire to confront the challenge and work towards stopping it. The moral uprightness of society in general is questionable of late. If society can put in a little more effort at standing upright, I do think we can navigate this issue. One reason it is difficult to deal with is that, we only hear it when one partner fails to cooperate. God save us!!
Bassing: The above submissions notwithstanding: Sir, WAEC conducts exams for students in the following English-speaking West African countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Liberia. Can you please help us ascertain whether the alarming recurrence of cases of exam malpractices and cancellations in Ghana, under the auspices WAEC, is the same or better, or worse in any or some or all the above-mentioned countries?
Mr. Abdul-Moomen: Yes, examination malpractice is not only a Ghanaian problem. All the countries that WAEC conducts exams also experience the same thing. It will even surprise you to note that examination malpractice in West Africa is older than the establishment of the West African Examinations Council.
In fact, WAEC was established in the early 1950s.But Nigeria recorded examination malpractice way back 1914. Sierra Leone – 1975.The Gambia – 1997.Liberia – 1987.The Middle School Leaving Certificate Examination’s papers here in Ghana leaked in 1958 and this can go down in history as major reason for the review by WAEC to lock and seal the mail bags containing exam papers and they were kept in bank vaults throughout the examination period.
Bassing: The educational system is supposed to be the most incorruptible and inviolable building system in society since it is the fulcrum for rectifying the wrongs and impacting the best morals, virtues, values and aspirations of our society.
(a) Is it legitimate to assert that WAEC, and the stakeholders of the educational system, by allowing exam malpractices to recur – as a yearly ritual, have not realized the importance and true value of maintaining a credible educational system?
(b) Is the Government of Ghana still oblivious of the fact that an incorruptible educational system is instrumental in rectifying the ills of our country such as moral, political, institutional and financial corruption; in reversing the falling standards in the productivity of our graduates and labour force; in upholding our best cultural and social values; and towards achieving our best potentials and aspirations of the nation?
Mr. Abdul-Moomen: A simple YES would have been enough answer to this question. The issue of examination malpractice is more a moral issue than any other known factor. The whole contingent of practitioners – parents, teachers, students, officials, educational institutions and governments who put efforts together to create a congenial atmosphere for this menace to strive need to undergo a serious moral overhauling. It is only then that we will be making headway.
Bassing: So, taking it a step further, would you say the advent of smartphone and digitalized information sharing technologies checkmated or worsen the problem of exam malpractices in Ghana?
Mr. Abdul-Moomen: country gets it within a matter of minutes. I remember even the days of ‘telephone booth’ even saw the transmission of examination questions over phone. Proliferation of Social media has made information dissemination very easy.
Bassing: Before we pick some few questions from our Readers: What solutions do you recommend; that if adopted and meticulously pursued by WAEC and other stakeholders of education in Ghana, the country would be able to permanently and effectively resolve this institutional conundrum – exam malpractices?
Mr. Abdul-Moomen: I would recommend the following:
1. It is important for us all to make serious efforts towards the conscientization of society in general so as reawaken our moral values. We seem not to see wrong as wrong and until we have a burning desire to fight this menace, it will never go.
2. I also suggest that authorities should realign the way teachers and educational workers are recognized and appraised and detach that from the performance of students in examination. We should be drifting our attention towards a rather practical system of education that measure the skills of students.
3. It is possible to step up supervision and monitoring at all levels of education and design and implement a more robust Continuous Assessment module that will give less credence to final examination.
4. More qualified teachers should be employed to man the job of teaching in our schools at all levels. Square pegs in round holes will only lead to what we are seeing.
5. Governments and the examining bodies should collaborate and come out with stiffer laws that are deterrent enough
6. WAEC and other examining bodies should roll out intensive examination training and let teachers know the importance of independent work.
QUESTIONS TIME WITH OUR READES FROM (THE READERS’ HUB)
Dr. Stanley Asasu Anenyemele: Brilliant submissions from our esteemed panelist. Regarding the issue of ‘sex for grades’, could he kindly proffer some suggestions on how to effectively deal with the menace? Also, does he think naming and shaming, for instance, is an effective method of tackling the menace; taking for instance, Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ recent expose’?
Mr. Abdul-Moomen: Thank you Dr. As regards sex-for-grade; I strongly suggest that the current system of marking scripts and awarding grades which, in most institutions, solely rest on the shoulders of the lecturer should be changed. All scripts should be pulled to a coordination center where lecturers have provided marking schemes so that other lecturers can be assigned to mark the script. This will attempt a more transparent system. As for naming and shaming, I have reservations as to whether it will solve the problem. Reason? Some shameless people profit more from the shaming and therefore inverting the very basis of the tool
Barnabas: Again, tons of thanks, big brother, for this vital discourse. And thanks a million, to the amiable Guest, who, in my personal view, supplies answers to the question, posed him candidly.
But, please find out from him;
(a). How badly serious or damaging is it for WASSCE examiners details, including contacts details to be known by the public??
(b). and is it advisable to maintain WASSCE examiners whose contacts details and others vital details are known by the public?
Thanks a lot for the opportunity, big brother.
Mr. Abdul-Moomen: Brilliant question by all standards!!!
It is very wrong to publicize the status of any examiner. More damning to it is when the examiners themselves go about telling stories of scripts they are marking. This is what leads school authorities and affluent parents to go hunting such examiners to influence with gifts in order to corrupt the system. Trust me, there are remedial schools in Ghana which are able to lay hands on their objective answered scripts and then goes ahead to recall students to come with erasers and write the exam again (You know what I mean?). The exams council ought to withdraw any such examiners immediately.
Thomas: From all indications, waec seems to be enjoying a system of monopoly in the conduct of examinations and therefore seem unfazed and unperturbed in the face of constant and glaring institutional blunders. Would you suggest that another examination body be set up to compete with Waec in the conduct of examinations?
Mr. Abdul-Moomen: Perfectly so. But like I stated already in my submission, the moral factor is a heavy-weight per my measure. We should do more education and conscientisation to build a bridge over which we can cross to sanity. That notwithstanding, government should be considering empowering our local examination bodies to meet the challenge of organizing a WASSCE standard kind of exams. When I mention local bodies, I am referring to Technical Examinations Unit, NVTI among others.
Bassing: Impressive! Indeed, this it is becoming more revealing and interesting. Unfortunately, we have to allow our guest to rest after the day’s work.
The Readers’ Hub expresses its most profound gratitude to you for finding time out of your busy schedule to interact and share with us your deep-seated knowledge on this very important topic. It was an awesome discussion and we are most grateful. May the good Lord shower his grace upon you in all your life endeavors. Thank you!
Mr. Abdul-Moomen: I am most grateful to all members of the family for the audience. I ask for forgiveness for any factual or typo errors that might have come from today’s engagement
Bassing: Readers, we have come to the end of yet another interactive, insightful and intellectually intuitive segment of our Social Media Monk session. We are most grateful to all those who find time to interact and asked questions where necessary. I am convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that Readers have picked some useful information out of the interaction on the thematic concern held supra.
Until we meet same time with another interactive segment of the Social Media Monk session next week, do have a fruitful weekend and a restful night.
NB: Please don’t forget to share after reading for others to also benefit.
Hub Editor: Bassing. A.M.A. Kamal.
! THE END!