Knowledge Update

Challenges and Legal Implications of Examination Malpractice

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Examination is regarded as the means of measuring and evaluating the level of knowledge or cognitive abilities of students within a specified period of time. An examination is seen as the instrument used for the assessment of individual knowledge and skills both in general and specific area of study (Adekunle, 2003). Examination has therefore become a process of assessing or determining the level of assimilation of the content of instruction given by the teacher. It is also the means by which the teacher or instructor can assess himself from the performance of the students (Omenu, 2015). Although, students’ level of performance may not be the true reflection of their abilities, yet, examination still remains the best tool for objective measurement and evaluation.

Unfortunately, examinations at different levels have been bedeviled with various corrupt and sharp practices tagged examination malpractices. This is indeed a problem that requires urgent attention. According to Ijabadeniyi (2017), the forms of examination include written, oral (viva) and practical. Examination is of two major types namely:

  1. Cognitive ability test that tries to find out the knowledge-content of the learner.
  2. Non-cognitive test that tries to ascertain how learners think, reason and feel. This also ascertains learner’s attitudes, values, preferences, interests, personal-social adjustments and other characteristics.

The significance of examination in whatever forms cannot be overemphasized. Examination gives room for the following:

  • Promotion and Certification.
  • Discovery of learning problems encountered by students.
  • Ensures effectiveness on the part of teachers and learners.
  • Useful for guidance and counselling.
  • Inculcates spirit of hard work among learners.
  • Ascertain the level of knowledge acquisition.

In spite of the laudable objectives of examination, malpractice seems to be an albatross bent on destroying the ideals of examination. Examination malpractice is an omnibus concept for all examination related offences thus making it cumbersome to define. According to Bruno and Ogidigbo (2012), examination malpractice is anything done by the examination candidate that is likely to render the assessment useless. Therefore, anything done by the stakeholders (not only the candidate) that will make the objectivity of the assessment jaundiced or tainted is regarded as examination malpractice.

In Nigeria, the Examination Malpractice Act, Cap E15 Laws of Federation of Nigeria, 2004 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 an 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 certificate issued. From the above enactment, examination malpractice covers both the pre and post mindset of the stakeholder targeted at perpetrating fraud in the examination.

Some of the causes of examination malpractice include:

  1. The nonchalant attitude of students to learning
  2. Poor and unconducive learning environment.
  3. Poor preparation for examination 
  4. Bad parental and peers influence
  5. Recruitment of incompetent teachers.

The implication of examination malpractice is overwhelming with grave consequences on individuals, and society at large. The trend in examination malpractice will no doubt make a mockery of educational qualification and discredit institution of learning and the nation as a whole. The ripple effect is that the destiny of the populace and the nation will be placed in the hands of half-backed, incompetent individuals.

A country that has a high prevalence of examination malpractice stands to lose its international credibility. Certificates emanating from such a country will be treated with utmost suspicion and doubt. According to Onyechere (2004), the spate of malpractices in the health sector, auctioning and miscarriage of justice by the judiciary, mindless looting of the public treasury, electoral fraud, the regular collapse of buildings designed by “engineers” and “architects” and sale of fake drugs by pharmacists all have root in an educational system bedevilled by examination malpractice.

The provision of a legal framework to stem the tide of examination malpractice has led to the promulgation of various laws and penalties ranging from imprisonment to the option of fine or both. It is worthy to note that the offence of examination malpractice under the Act of the National Assembly or Law of the State is regarded as a felony and not a simple offence or misdemeanour (Ijabadeniyi, 2017). This shows the level of determination of the Nigerian government at all levels in combating the menace of examination malpractice. Examination Malpractices Act, Cap E15, Laws of Federation of Nigeria, 2004 identified offences that constitute examination malpractice, and also prescribes penalties for such offences ranging from 3-5 years imprisonment with or without the option of fine.

The offences as provided under Sections 1 to 12 of the Act include:

Section 1: Cheating (fraudulent trick or device or false pretence with intent to cheat, buy, sell or procures any question paper).

Penalty: Any person guilty of an offence under Section 1(1a-d) of the Act shall be liable on conviction.

  1. If under 18 years of age to a fine of N100, 000 or jail term not exceeding three years or both.
  2. If 18 years and above (principal, teacher, invigilator, supervisor, examiner, agent or employee of the examination body, such person is liable to a four-year jail term without the option of fine.

Section 2: Stealing (appropriates or takes a question paper and answer sheet or script of other candidates.

Penalty: Liable on conviction to a fine of N100, 000 or imprisonment not exceeding three years jail term or both.

Section 3: Impersonation (false representation as a candidate)

Penalty: 

  1. if Under 18 years of age, he/she is liable on conviction to a fine of N100,000 or imprisonment not exceeding three years jail term or both.
  2. In the case of principal, teacher, invigilator, examiner and agent or employee of the examination body, such person is liable to a jail term of four years without the option of fine.
  3. In any other case, three years jail term without the option of a fine.

Section 4: Disorderliness at Examination (leaving the examination hall to mix with any other person, with intent to cheat or secure unfair advantage).

Penalty: Fine not exceeding N50, 000 or jail term not exceeding three years or both. In addition, such candidate will not be allowed to re-enter the examination hall to continue with that examination. Where the offence has to do with a person unlawfully communicate any information to the candidate with intent to aid such candidate, he/she shall be liable on conviction to a fine of N100,000 or three years jail term or both for a person under 18 years. For others, it ranges from three to four years without the option of a fine.

Section 5: Disturbances at Examination (possession or uses of any offensive weapon or other material to incite other people to act in a disorderly manner for the purpose of disrupting the conduct of examination). 

Penalty: If under 18years of age, he is liable on conviction to a fine of N100, 000 or jail term not exceeding three years or both. In another case, a jail term of four to five years without the option of a fine.

Section 6: Conduct at Examination (any act of misconduct or failure to obey any lawful order of the invigilator, supervisor or agent of the examination body).

Penalty: Liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding N50, 000 or jail term not exceeding three years or both.

Section 7: Obstruction of a supervisor, invigilator or agent of the examination body in the performance of his duty.

Penalty: If under 18 years of age, liable to a fine of N100, 000 or jail term of not exceeding three years or both. In other cases, imprisonment for a term of four to five years without the option of a fine.

Section 8: Forgery of Result slip or Certificate.

Penalty: If under 18 years of age, he is liable on conviction to a fine of N100, 000 or jail of three years or both. In other cases, imprisonment for a term of four to five years without the option of a fine.

Section 9: Breach of Duty (A person in charge of the conduct of an examination without reasonable cause, before, during or at any time thereafter fails or performs that duty fraudulently, negligently or perversely).

Penalty: Fine not exceeding N50, 000 or jail term not exceeding three years or both. If employed to mark examination papers, alters or tampers with scores, he is liable on conviction to a jail term of four-five years without the option of a fine.

Section 10: Conspiracy, Aiding etc.

Penalty: If under 18 years of age, he is liable to a fine of N100, 000 or a jail term not exceeding three years or both. In other cases, imprisonment for a term of four to five years without the option of a fine.

Section 11: This section talks about the conviction for an alternative offence. Where a person is charged for an attempt to commit an offence but there is evidence that establishes the commission of another full offence, the offender shall not be acquitted, but shall be convicted of the offence and punished accordingly.

Section 12: Deals with offences by corporate bodies. The director, secretary or other similar officers of the corporate body shall be deemed to have committed that offence and shall be liable and punished accordingly in line with the criminal liability of a corporate body.

Conclusively, there is an urgent need for effective implementation of the various measures and legislations so as to save the education sector from total collapse.

References

Adekunle, S. (2003). Preparing for examination. Ilesha: Ilesanmi Press.

Bruno, U.D.O. & Ogidigbo, G.C.E. (2012) The Counseling Implications of Examination 

                    Malpractice among University Undergraduates. Research Journal of Organizational  

                     Psychology & Educational studies 1: 199-202.

Federal Republic of Nigeria, (2004). Examination Malpractices Act, Cap E15, LFN, 2004.

Ijabadeniyi, O.A. (2017) Examination Malpractice as a Social Phenomenon: Challenges and   

                     Legal Implications.  Journal of Health and Social Issues 6 (1), 32 – 39.

Omenu, F. (2015). Causes of Examination Malpractice in Nigeria Schools. British Journal of 

                     Education, 3 (7), 34-41. 

Onyechere, I. (2004). “N66billion lost to examination fraud in 10 years”. The Punch 

                     Newspaper, Monday, August 30.

 

Dr. Olumide Abraham Ajayi is a Lecturer I at the School of Art, Management and Social Science, Skyline University Nigeria. He has a PhD in Sociology at the University of Ilorin, Nigeria.

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