Examination malpractices of any form have being in existence for centuries now, it is more rampant in this 21st century. In this computer age, students no longer search for materials (books and other documents) to read and adequately prepare themselves for examinations. They rather search and learn master plans to cheat during examinations.
West African examination council (WAEC) has over the years developed so many measures to counteract or deal with examination misconduct at the Junior high schools during their Basic Education Certificate Examination (B.E.C.E) and at the senior high schools during their West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). Amongst the notified examination malpractice include; impersonation, candidates entering with foreign materials such as text book, papers, already solved questions, mobile phones, etc. copying vividly from colleagues, invigilators giving helping hand to students etc. WAEC in its own wisdom has come out with strategies to shutdown the above listed examination misconducts. These methods include; the use of composite answer booklets (inclusive of graph and supplementary sheets), synchronized time for the start of papers across all member states, installation of CCTV cameras in its examination halls, the use of metal detectors to search candidates, the use of item differential profile (IDP) software, delaying question papers to examination centers. Thus not more than 45 minutes to starting time etc.
WAEC sanctions labeled against culprit include the following; cancelation of individual results or the entire school results, withholding of suspected results, de-recognition of victim schools as waec centers, suspension of candidates from writing waec exams for at least 2 years, jailing of supervisors, invigilators and impersonators who also engage in these exams fraud.
Even though the deterrent punishments are very harsh, generational prospective candidates have not heeded to them but have also devised ‘improved’ ways of cheating during exams.
Though waec continues to improve its ways of bring examinations fraudsters to book, I think most of its methods are ‘Detective Measures’ And Not Preventive Measures. West African examination council (waec) can adopt more prudent preventive measures in dealing with this menace.
Dealing with examination malpractices through preventive measures
Preventive measures can be adopted to dispirit students (candidates) from even thinking of cheating or ‘apor’ in exams. I suggest that waec should revisit their mode of setting questions and make amendment. The current style of questions being set by West African examination council (waec) seems to be making it porous and admirable for examination malpractices. The use of ‘Random Test Item Arrangement’ where for instance, objective test are disorderly arranged for each candidate. This simply means that each and every candidate should have similar questions but different alternative numbering. That is, candidate ‘A’ question number ‘1’ should be different from candidate ‘B’ question number.
If questions are set with different numbering, it will help prevent students from asking their colleagues for answers especially with the objective test. It will also help prevent the habit of invigilators reading out objective answers to students during examinations since candidates do not have same question numbering. This random objective test numbering will also go a long way to discourage students from accepting objective answers from their friends and others because each and every candidate in the examination hall has a different question numbers.
Similar techniques can be employed in the theory aspect of the examination paper. Theory questions can also be randomly numbered or candidates can be given alternative questions as it is done in science practical (Alternative A and Alternative B). I strongly believe that going forward, if waec is able to change its style of questions and adopt preventive measures of dealing with exams fraud, candidates and all those who are involved in this act will be demoralized so that the sanity and fairness needed in waec examinations will prevail.
By: Amadu Abdul Hadi (geography lawyer)
Email: [email protected]