Examination malpractice is one of the oldest crimes in the world but according to several sources, examination malpractice was first reported in Nigeria in 1914 during the leakage of the senior Cambridge Local Examination.

However after independence, examination malpractice became prominent in the 1970s as students and youths conscripted from schools to join the army returned after the war to resume their education and discovered they were not psychologically stable and mentally fit for examinations and so resorted to cheating in examinations, bribing invigilators and hiring external bodies (machineries) to write for them. There was hardly any year examination malpractice was not recorded after this period.

As long as there have been examinations, assessments, tests and assignments, there have been malpractice. Exam malpractice has evolved with the times; it has become a force so powerful it is almost impossible to separate it from education as it has deeply integrated into the system like a canker worm, eating and destroying the education system gradually with no hope or recourse to putting an end to this enigma.

In Africa, examination malpractice is a culture that is widely accepted firstly by parents, teachers, media agencies, students and even the government. Infact the whole continent, it has gotten so bad, students don’t realise what they are doing is actually wrong as it is being encouraged and supported by all and sundry. Education is no longer seen as what you can actually read, sit for and pass without additional help. Parents pay and bribe teachers and invigilators on behalf of their kids, Schools and media houses set up and advertise special centres where students are promised success at one sitting, even the government is not left out as we have special candidates with letters from one politician or government agency who us untouchable and enjoy special privileges during the examination period.

Unusual Bedfellows

In today’s classrooms, students who cheat are hardly ever caught. Gone are the days when students had to giraffe (a term used to describe copying from a classmate) or scribble formulas and bullet points (expo) on the insides of their hands, thighs or smuggle in pieces of papers and get caught while fidgeting or sweating profusely from fear and guilt. Nowadays with the advent of technology and smart phones, students are smarter. Gadgets and other technological tools are being used with ease to cheat without any trace and since it is not illegal to cheat with technology, students don’t see it as wrong.

Electronically assisted malpractices:

The incidence of examination malpractice is multi-dimensional in nature. Students have become creative and innovative in their approach to cheating with techniques like:

  • SMS’s of answers while in the exam hall
  • Capturing of formulas and pictures, graphs, texts etc. using a smartphone camera
  • Copying and saving notes in a cell phone
  • Buying or downloading pre-written exam questions and answers online
  • Searching for answers on Google, Wikipedia and other search engines during exams
  • Plagiarism of already answered exam questions and tweaking to appear original
  • Voice recording of answers to possible questions to be replayed during exam

Assessing how much knowledge and information has been assimilated and processed is one of the fundamentals of examination but strategies like the afore mentioned above has disrupted the education system, technology have refined examination malpractice so much that school administrators are helpless and hopeless in combating it. Daily, pupils and students channel the energy they would have used to positively impact and influence their studies to devise tricks to cheat their teachers and supervisors. This trend has given rise to academic treachery among students of all classes.

Intellectual honesty or Artificial Intelligence

In this technological age, children learn to research and get information on any subject matter with just a click away. Several search engines and sites have empowered students to become culprits even without them knowing it yet, search engines have taken away the library culture, when it was fun and exciting to go to the library and read for better understanding and knowledge, now students prefer to take advantage of technology or just copy the answers someone else took meticulous time researching. The present generation will never experience the library culture that was in vogue before the advent of technology. Technology is robbing them of a time when the fastest way to find answers is not always considered the best.

Technology is without a doubt the best thing to have happened to education but let’s not forget that the excess of everything is usually toxic to the user. Schools must not forget to implement stringent measures and laws to tackle and address the incessant and excessive use of technology by students in times of examinations and other assessments. The usage of mobile devices must be limited and controlled especially when it is not necessary to use. Teachers and parents must inculcate and sensitize their students and children to cultivate the habit of traditional reading and learning as well and realize the evils and unethical practices of substituting intellectual honesty for artificial Intelligence