Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Embarrassing examination leakages

If the report of widespread leakages of examination question papers in the on-going West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) is anything to go by, then this year’s version will go down as the worst ever examination to have been conducted by the 56-year old examination body.Never in the history of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) have examination papers leaked so easily many days ahead of the examination schedules than this year’s own where live question papers were just there for the asking at eateries, sorting centres and special centres in Lagos and other cities in the country.Not even the infamous examination leakage of 1977 tagged “Expo 77” could compare with the brazenness and audacity with which these papers were being hawked. While the 1977 episode affected fewer papers, the current one was all encompassing that WAEC itself publicly admitted it and went ahead to cancel some of them. Some of the affected papers include English Language, Physics, Commerce, Chemistry and Biology. Besides these cases, there are strong indications that most of the papers for this year’s examinations may have been massively leaked.We do not agree with WAEC that the leakage was due to the attack of its staff by a gang of armed robbers while they were conveying examination security materials that were relevant to the on-going May/June examinations. At best, the excuses canvassed by WAEC for the recent leakage are diversionary and are intended to confuse the bewildered public over recurring cases of leakage of WAEC examination papers over the years. Available reports and evidence about the recent leakage are pointing to collaborators within the examination body itself, owners of special study and examination centres and desperate parents who want their children to succeed in the examinations by all means possible.The widespread nature of this year’s leakage underscores the fact that the core societal values in Nigeria are gradually being destroyed by the general national corruption in the polity. That this malaise has eaten deep into the fabric of the Nigerian society is indeed regrettable. It is to our eternal shame as a nation that this cankerworm which reared its ugly head some decades ago, is still alive despite the many wars against corruption and examination malpractices in the country.The scenario is symptomatic of the pervading moral decadence and erosion of core ethics and values of our society. It is worrisome that some of the youths who are unarguably the future leaders are involved in these perverse tendencies that are steadily creeping into practically all facets of the society including examinations that will determine the suitability or otherwise of these youths for future career advancement and development.Corruption of the educational system via examination malpractices is one of the worst things that can happen to the nation’s march to ethical and scientific development. Such a bad and reprehensible development should worry our policy makers and educational planners because it poses a great danger to our march to greatness.We therefore enjoin WAEC to wake up to its responsibilities by ensuring that these recurring leakages of its examination question papers becomes a thing of the past. Blaming the current leakage on attack by armed robbers is pedestrian and puerile. The examination body should put its house in order and remove from its midst people of questionable character and doubtful integrity. There is no doubt that unscrupulous members of staff of WAEC eager to make fast money may have aided and abetted the leakage, which has unfortunately become an annual ritual.WAEC should devise more professional techniques to arrest this endemic menace. Recurring leakages will whittle down the quality of its certificates and with time its rating among higher institutions and prospective employers. Parents should also stop the desperation that makes them to be part of this social malady. WAEC should, in the interest of education and the integrity of its certificates, ban all special centres where these cheatings have become commonplace.

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