Paraphrasing the words of Frederick Douglas “it is better to be true to myself, even at the point of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false.” Within this context, academic integrity is essential to the overall success of our mission as educators. It provides the basis for proper conduct in students’ lives after graduation. Additionally, many students, teachers, and administrators often adopt the principles of academic integrity as a tool within which the goals of teaching, learning, and research are effective. This knowledge update is an attempt to frame academic integrity in ways that are both positive and pragmatic.
Value education has been given priority by Nigerian governments since independence and is expressed in various policy documents. For instance, The National Policy on Education (2004, p. 8) has put in place a framework for national education goals, in part, as “the inculcation of the right type of values and attitudes.” Those who designed the policy believed that the right values are sine-qua-non “for the survival of the individual and the Nigerian society.” Promoters of this policy from time to time lamented that “lack of academic integrity in the system constitutes a major lacuna.”
Education is peculiar to character first, before skills. Without acceptable character, people can easily apply their skills in negative directions that could harm rather than develop society. As a teacher, I have learned over the years that academicians have spent quality time and resources in developing skills and sharpening professional potentials. However, some do not commensurate efforts in developing their character to conform with the acceptable values that will add to the education system for greater productivity. Teaching is a psycho-social business that goes several steps beyond paper qualification with incursions into the personal psychological dispositions in terms of behavioural antecedents and projections.
The inappropriate approach to the basic tools of scientific inquiry in the educational system also has an imprint on honest academic engagement as well as the question of moral value to the pedagogical purity in our discipline. Today, deceit has become the standard for research and learning, which often affects the quality of education in our contemporary society. In this regard, it is imperative to explore the often less academically addressed subject of academic integrity in communication scholarship. Hopefully, in a short time to come, the knowledge gap in this area across countries and continents shall be given priority by scholars to the strengthening of theory, methodology, and general knowledge based on the subject. To achieve this, the fundamental values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage is the key to this problem of an unproductive educational system.
In reality, the qualitative application and systematic involvement of scholars are fundamental to the wellbeing and professional productivity of any institutional development and growth. It safeguards the physiological, psychological, and physical quantitative approach that promotes ethical, objective, and constructive standards, which in turn guarantees free and fair expression of opinions, ideas, and thoughts. Within the academic integrity framework, dishonesty in the system is considered unethical and illegal, especially the one that affects institutional goals, and that of academic misconduct.
Arguably, the essence of education is the molding of values first before skills. Without the adequate value of academic integrity, educational institutions are worthless and the products they produce will be disastrous to society (Saa-Aondo, 2018). Therefore, the ability of any institution to achieve its purposes depends upon the quality and integrity of the academic work that its faculty, staff, and students perform. Academic integrity is one step towards cutting-edge research and knowledge transfer. Incidentally, the level at which academic dishonesty is accelerating needs to be addressed in the educational system. It is better to live with trying to solve the problem of academic dishonesty than to live without trying.
NPE (2004). The National Policy on Education. (4th Ed.). Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council.
Saa-Aondo, S. A. (2018). Academic integrity: A value orientation project. Obama Publishers.
Mr. Aondover Eric Msughter, is a Lecturer II in the Department of Mass Communication in Skyline University Nigeria. He has obtained a Master of Science Degree (M.Sc) in Mass Communication from Bayero University Kano, Nigeria.