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1.1        Background of the Study

The value and functionality of any educational system lies in its ability to actualize the goals of education. In educational systems, world over, the examination process makes the difference. The goals of national educational systems and indeed national development become like mirage if examination ethics is not encouraged and instituted (Nwadiani, 2005). Till date, examinations still remain the best tool for an objective assessment and evaluation of what learners have achieved after a period of schooling. Hence, any action that undermines examinations poses a great threat to the validity and reliability of examination results and certification.

Unfortunately, the process of examination in Nigeria secondary schools has become a “contemporary shame” (Nwadiani, 2005). This is because of the phenomenon of examination malpractice that has become endemic in the educational system.               The 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.

In Nigeria, the last two decades have witnessed an alarming rate of increase in incidents of examination misconduct. Evidences abound of increasing involvement in examination malpractice by students, teachers and parents (Vanguard, 2005; Weekend Pointer, 2005; Daily Independent, 2004). The incidence of examination malpractice 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 sharp practice or the other. Though examination malpractice is neither a recent phenomenon nor is it peculiar to Nigeria or Africa (Awanbor, 2005), the alarming rate of increase is a global issue. The alarming rate of increase in examination malpractice in secondary schools in Nigeria calls for concern from all stakeholders in the education sector. It has been widely reported that parents and teachers aid and abet examination malpractice directly or indirectly. (Vanguard, 2005; Weekend Pointer, 2005; Daily Independent, 2004 Nigerian Tribune, 2009). Parents go to the extent of bribing their way through to ensure that their wards get unearned grades while teachers encourage examination malpractice because they lack the zeal to work but want to be praised for job not done (Alutu & Aluede, 2006). According to Omoluabi and Uzoka (cited in Alutu & Aluede, 2006), the value system in Nigeria has broken down completely and so adults and youths alike act without moral scruples. This is the reason why examination malpractice still thrives despite its grave consequences on the social political and economic structures of the nation. Shonekan (1996) ascertains that the causes of examination malpractice in post primary schools arise out of complexity of factors which could be as follows:

  1. a.           Over emphasis on paper qualification.

Over emphasis on grades and certificates in the country’s educational institutions has introduced desperate competition and pressure for academic excellence in order to further their education or get jobs. Little or no emphasis is placed on the job performance itself. The extreme pressures from parents and the society on candidates to obtain good grades and certificates has triggered all sorts of desperate behaviors aimed at getting good grades and certificate at all costs (Shonekan, 1996).

  1. b.           Poor Study Habits and Unpreparedness by Students

A good number of students for one reason or the other have developed very high social level styles. For some, it is because of their family background. To some, it may be due to peer group influences. These students spend a great part of their study time organizing social activities at the expense of their study time. These students don’t have the time to read and prepare for examinations in spite of these lapses. They will want to pass their examinations with good grades knowing fully well that they have not worked for success; they decide to cheat in order to achieve it (Shonekan, 1996).

  1. c.            Inadequate provision of infrastructural Facilities in our schools.

One of the basic requirements for effective teaching and learning is the provision infrastructural facilities in our schools. When these facilities are provided they help to boost the morale of both students and teachers thereby creating a conducive atmosphere for learning. In most cases, these facilities are grossly inadequate. Some students are compelled to sit on windows while lessons are going on. Some schools are compelled to operate two shifts due to inadequate classroom accommodation (Shonekan, 1996).        The science schools are mere centers with no science laboratories and equipment. How can this caliber of students cope in examination without engaging in examination malpractice?

  1. d.           Non-coverage of syllabus content

Non- coverage of syllabus content due to constant strike actions by teachers and poor innovation of teachers is one of the causes of examination malpractice in our secondary schools. Most at times it is due to the fact that teachers are not fairly rewarded. This results to constant strikes which then affect students as when the strike is called off, the content of the school syllabus is not properly covered. The time wasted is not compensated. This makes a bulk of work left untouched. These have been a contributing factor to examination malpractice in Gboko Local Government Area (Shonekan, 1996).

  1. e.           Fear among Students

Tsumba (1997) points it out that fear is a reality that limit most of us everywhere. Some of the candidates for fear of failure which is as a result of poor preparation for examination or poor academic background tend to have no confidence in what they will write in the examination. The students involved feel that he/she has not made adequate preparations and in order not to take chances, decides to go into the examination hall with the forbidden materials.

  1. f.             The legal process to punish offenders

The legal process to bring to book is strenuous and laborious. Tribunals have been set to try those involved in examination malpractice in the past. Decrees have been promulgated to deal decisively with offenders but so far, nothing much has been done. Tenuous investigations usually lose their grip with time and offenders eventually set free. The fifteen year jail term is not a reality (Shonekan, 1996).

  1. g.           Low Moral Standards in the Society

The societies from which the students draw their moral standards appear to be corrupt and morally bankrupt. While youths and adults engage in examination malpractice, they find parallel malpractices in other sphere of the society and conduct perhaps that everybody is neck deep in one type of crime or another. According to Idoko (2005), candidates with low moral judgment level see nothing wrong in cheating. It is against this factors that the researcher wishes to investigate and provide adequate or feasible solution to the problem of examination malpractice (Shonekan, 1996).

1.2     Statement of the Problem

The phenomenon of examination malpractice seems to be aggravated by the large scale and shameful involvement of dishonest and greedy teachers, school heads, parents and all those who take part in examination administration (Ijaiya, 1998). The prominence assumed by this malady in the school system has become a source of concern to stakeholders in the education sector.

Examination malpractice is an ugly social virus that has devastated our educational institutions in the country. The Nigerian society today more than ever before had been completely destroyed by effects of social vices such as Examination Malpractice. Our educational system has become plagued with frequent outburst of students militant approaches toward resolving problems that seem to affect not only the students but also any other ordinary Nigerian. This acts to a great extent to be regarded by students as a fashionable and modern style of a student’s life in secondary school. The teaming youths in our secondary schools are thus targets. One therefore expects the youths to demand for an effective educational system that will liberate the mind and nurture the intellect and jealously protect such a system they should be involved in healthy competitions in all fields of human endeavor that will provide opportunities for hidden talents.

          The Nigerian school system, therefore, needs to be isolated against vices as Examination Malpractice which is capable of eroding the confidence in the system. This problem tends to cast doubt in our efforts to use education as a tool per excellence to foster national development.

          Examination malpractice is viewed as an evil to be fought against and prevented in our institutions of learning. What makes it widely practiced in our secondary schools and by our examination bodies, what are the factors influencing examination malpractice? It is against this background that the researchers intend to carry out a study on the factors influencing examination malpractices in secondary schools in Gboko Local Government of Benue State.

1.3     Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to investigate the factors that influence examination malpractice among secondary school students in Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State. Specifically, the study intends to:

  1. To determine the influence of examination malpractice as it concern over emphasis on paper qualification.
  2. To ascertain the influence of poor study habits and unpreparedness by students on examination malpractice.
  3. To assess the influence of non-coverage of syllabus content examination.
  4. To assess the influence of teachers towards the malpractice of examination

1.4     Significance of the Study

The findings of this research upon completion will help the reader to understand the factors that influences and propagates examination malpractice. Hence, it will serve as a tool to combating examination malpractice in the following ways:

     i.        It is the hope of the researchers that this study will be useful to the school principals in providing a guide to them on how best to conduct examination in their schools.

    ii.        The study will enable both students and teachers to shun the idea of engaging in examination malpractice in their schools. As it will bring to lime light the ills of examination misconduct.

   iii.        The study is also intended to acquaint principals, teachers, invigilators, and supervisors on the new techniques involved in Examination Malpractice in schools. So that they will be able to curb the menace.

   iv.        The study will be a useful guide to the WAEC, JAMB and NECO in selecting competent invigilators and supervisors in the conduct of their examinations.

    v.        The afore mentioned beneficiaries will have to assess to the work through publication, seminars, workshops and libraries where this work will be exhibited.

1.5     Research Questions

The following research questions are raised to guide the study:

  1. To what extent will over emphasis on paper qualification contribute to examination malpractice?
  2. Do poor study habit and unpreparedness by students facilitate the examination malpractice?
  3. What influence does the non-coverage of syllabus have on the examination malpractice?
  4. How does the teacher influence examination malpractice?

1.6     Scope of the Study

The research work is limited to secondary schools in Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State. The study will also concentrate on those factors presumed to affect or influence examination malpractice. Such as;

a)   over emphasis on paper qualification

b)   poor study habit and unpreparedness by students

c)    inadequate provision of infrastructural facilities in our schools

d)   non-coverage of syllabus content

e)   fear among students

f)     government policies

g)   low moral standards in the society

h)   parental support

This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research

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