By NBF News

The increasing wave of examination malpractices, especially in Secondary School Certificate Examinations (SSCE) is, indeed, worrisome. In the just released results of May/June SSCE conducted by the National Examinations Council (NECO), there were altogether 615,010 cases of malpractices. A total of 1,143,169 candidates registered for the examination nationwide while 1,132,357 candidates eventually sat for the examination

According to the Registrar of the examining body, Prof. Promise Okpala, the commonest malpractices were mass cheating, which recorded 452,027 cases; aiding, abetting, seeking and receiving help from non-candidates, 87,778; while 13,456 cases of cheating were detected at marking venue.

Prof. Okpala also revealed that Rivers State topped the list of malpractices with 45,131 cases. Kaduna State followed with 41,878 cases; Enugu, 36,904 cases; Nasarawa, 35,510; and Lagos, 31,904 cases. Bayelsa State had the least malpractices with 235 cases.

Details of the results showed that 870,305 candidates, who sat for the May/June 2010 SSCE, failed to get credit passes in English Language. This represents 79 percent of the 1,113,177 candidates that sat for the examination. However, the remaining 21 percent of the candidates obtained credit passes in the subject.

Similarly, of the 1,113,177 candidates that sat for the Mathematics examination, 838,031 failed the subject. A breakdown of the results by subjects showed that only 245,890 candidates passed English Language with 1,434 distinctions and 244,456 credit passes, out of the 1,116,195 that sat for the examination. It also indicated that 66,519 candidates that sat for English Language had their results cancelled while 66,260 candidates experienced the same fate in Mathematics.

It is really pathetic that public examinations like SSCE conducted by NECO recorded such massive cases of malpractices. It is also regrettable that corruption in the wider society has crept into our examination system. As a result of this, candidates now want to make it either by crook or hook. The scenario is symptomatic of the general societal malaise. Such is not unexpected in a society where elections are rigged at will and corruption holds sway in the conduct of governmental and public affairs.

It is odd, also, that some of the malpractices were recorded at the marking venue. NECO should do something to prevent such in future. It appears that the body inadvertently recruited some misfits to oversee the marking of examination scripts, hence malpractices can occur at that stage.

The embarrassing development calls for serious concern because cheating is not what Nigeria needs at this period of its development. That our supposed future leaders engage in cheating to pass SSCE is tragic.

We blame the examining body, parents and schools for this frightening development. If the candidates involved in cheating were brought up to appreciate the value of probity, honour and morality, perhaps, they will be more focused and do things properly. While it is good to pass an examination, such a pass must be earned through merit and not cheating.

Parents should desist from assisting their wards to cheat in examinations. The only way to pass an examination is to study harder. Cheating in examinations is a major social problem that requires an urgent solution. Let all religious organisations preach attitudinal change among the youths in order to curb the recourse to cheating as a way out.

There is the need for guidance and counselling in our schools so that students can choose subjects that they have aptitude for. Government should provide well qualified teachers in English Language and Mathematics, the two subjects that always record mass failure. That these subjects are poorly taught is obvious, especially Mathematics. Let teachers of these subjects be creative and make them interesting to learners. NECO should also plug all avenues of leakage in its system by overhauling its internal security.