• Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM STINKS LIKE FOUL-SMELLING STOOLS

Jun 30, 2024

OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM STINKS LIKE FOUL-SMELLING STOOLS

By Mr. Governor Okojere

Certain individuals may cast aside this article due to its overstretched volume.

This tendency highlights one of the reasons some people in this part of the globe are often making hasty and emotional assumptions, resulting in misguided judgements that lack the depth and understanding warranted by the situation because they are not patient enough to scrutinize the truth beyond surface-level observations or hastily formed opinions.

Just, take a fleeting instant and create a mental picture where you invest a substantial amount of your hard-earned resources to build a glamorous edifice for yourself and your future generations in a terrain susceptible to floods with a foundation that is poorly constructed with a sandy damp-proof course. Ultimately, such a structure can never withstand the test of time. This is exactly what examination malpractice in primary and secondary schools depicts. It is a ticking time bomb deliberately orchestrated to not only put the students at a disadvantage but also sabotage the future of our nation.

Observing the silence and the seeming acquiescence of those expected to denounce and curb examination malpractice acting like a nanny who is supposed to be reliable, honest and trustworthy, shirks their responsibilities and watches idly as a toddler they are required to protect wanders toward red hot firewood made me nostalgic about the good old days.

The days when communication was not at the touch of a button, and a letter from a loved one in another city or country was a long-awaited treasure. The days when parents who lacked formal education banked heavily on their bright and intelligent children in primary and secondary schools to read and interpret cherished correspondences or letters from their relatives to them. The days when children were not only the pride of their parents but also the larger society, not just for their academic prowess, but also for their ability to read and write in a way that seemed unusual and alien to their parents. The days when children with eagerness and without hesitation, would sit beside their parents and begin to open up the world of words to them as they read aloud with such fluency that the messages seemed to come alive. The good old days when children while reading letters for their parents would capture the essence and translate the message with such ease that their parents’ faces would beam with pride. The children’s talents did not just lie in reading and interpretation, but also in writing. They would grab a pen and paper and begin to reply to those cherished letters on behalf of their parents. Their parents would dictate the message in their local dialect and these bright children would effortlessly translate it into English. When the letter was completed, they would once again read it back to their parents with such accuracy that it seemed like they were reliving the conversation. The pride and joy that these children brought to their parents were immeasurable. They were not just the hope of their family but the community as a whole. During those days, parents, school heads, exam supervisors and teachers were not involved in the malady of examination malfeasance. Such cases within schools were almost non-existent, with students who were unable to receive well-stuffed brown envelopes with prospectus at the end of the session from the postmasters being required to repeat their classes without the option of automatic promotion.

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Alas, today, it is deeply disheartening and frustrating to witness the preponderance of examination malpractice in our primary and secondary schools. The flagrant disregard for academic honesty and integrity is wholly unacceptable and it serves to wreck the entire educational system. It is truly sad to see some parents and teachers egging the students on to resort to cheating and other unethical means to obtain good grades, rather than cultivating a genuine sense of intellectual curiosity and hard work. Such behaviour not only undermines the value and worth of academic achievement but also deprives students of the opportunity to grow and develop into informed and responsible citizens.

The permeating and pernicious hazard of examination malpractice in the hallowed halls of primary and secondary schools elicits both a deep-seated sense of disgust and exasperation from the discerning mind. This malignant practice not only debases and erodes the sanctity of our education system but also undermines the very foundations of integrity, honour, and meritocracy that should underpin our educational ethos.

The nauseating reality of this transgression is that it not only obliterates or destroys the authentic evaluation of academic prowess but also brings forth a culture of mediocrity that rewards indolence, truancy, and unethical conduct. It amounts to nothing but a crass betrayal of the sacred trust reposed on educational institutions to train and produce individuals of the highest intellectual acumen, moral rectitude, and civic responsibility.

The need of the hour is to staunchly uphold the fundamental principles of truth, honesty, and fairness, which should inform and direct the educational process. The road to unquestionable success should be paved with sweat, determination, and perseverance, not with deception, corruption, and laziness as some people in our society would wont us to believe.

Examination malpractice has become a pandemic and nightmare that plagues our education system. In most cases, some students aided by their parents and teachers in active collaboration with the supervisors engage in various forms of cheating during exams, with the primary goal of achieving high grades at all costs. The nature of these malpractices’ ranges from the sharing of answers to teachers copying ready-made answers on the board and advanced cheating mechanisms like allowing students to use mobile phones and wearable devices to access information.

Trying to overlook the damage examination malpractice is unleashing on our education system and society at large is akin to undermining the potency of some drops of a sniper put by one’s enemy in their soup. Examination malpractice is concerning for several reasons. It encourages a culture of cheating, where students learn to value success over integrity. This not only undermines the educational value of the exams but also future careers in various industries that demand honesty and transparency. Besides, it could lead to a twisted representation of the student’s potential and general academic aptitude, where students who cheat could be reckoned as competent when they are not. It is undeniable that pervasive examination malpractice undermines the integrity of the educational system, compromises future integrity, and casts doubt on the quality of academic credentials and institutions in the long term.

The recent circulation on social media of a post authored by an anonymous lecturer from one of our esteemed universities, decrying and vilifying the stark deficiencies of students with ostensibly commendable WACE and NECO results, marks a vote of no confidence to all stakeholders within our education sector. Such issues of low academic standards, despite high grades obtained by these students in WASSCE and NECO, paint a disconcerting picture of unethical examination writing mechanisms that grant unearned merit and advantages to students.

The author of that post speaking on behalf of other patriotic lecturers claims that the actions of some people in our society are responsible for the academic woes faced by these students in universities today. Therefore, they are making a passionate plea to parents, school owners and teachers to help the pupils, students and the public by ensuring that children in schools write examinations by themselves and merit the grades they brandish on their results. They said, and I quote: “We are tired of seeing students with A1 in Mathematics but cannot resolve the smallest of fractions. A student with distinctions in Physics and Chemistry but knows next to nothing about chemical reactions or energy conversion. Students with distinctions in Literature, Government, and CRS, yet blank on the differences between Drama and Prose Fiction, the forms of Government, and the significance of religious stories. The whole of them in my class with excellent SSCE results are visibly confused at the sight of any arithmetic work. Their last semester’s performance betrayed the several A1s, B2s and B3s on the WAEC they carry about for admission… These students you help acquire grades they cannot defend, are usually frustrated in the ivory tower…”

However, such a misguided approach is not just detrimental to the students’ futures but also undermines the integrity of our education system.

To those who are actively involved in this mess, it is high time you stopped. It is important to put things in proper perspective. As you continue to help these students cheat their way through exams, have you ever stopped to think about the negative impact it has on them and society at large?

How many plots of land, cars, or buildings have you acquired since you started aiding and abetting students in exam malpractice? How many medical doctors, lawyers, engineers, and other professionals have you produced? How do you feel hearing that those you “helped” to obtain high grades who currently are in ivory towers are sweating profusely in their anuses and they face rustication?  Do you not believe that by continuing to assist and facilitate examination malpractice, you are effectively forcing the children whose parents are currently suffering from the impacts of poor governance into a lifetime of servitude? Only sound and quality education is the key to liberating them from both political and economic slavery. It is high time you scouted for a modicum of conscience to think carefully about the long-term consequences of your actions and consider the impact they have on society as a whole.

Suffice it to say that this unethical and prejudicial practice has now birthed a new trend in town where students run amok and tear their notes and textbooks after writing the final exams. The first time I beheld such ugly panoramas, I stood frozen and dumbfounded for a while, my mind whizzing with confusion like a contorted tree with tangled branches. My eyes blurred with unshed tears darted back and forth, trying to comprehend the motive behind why some students would adopt the prehistory day’s acts of stupidity and crudity which seemed to me a puzzle with omitting slabs. My thoughts were like a stormy ocean, agitating with waves of uncertainty and bewilderment as they struggled to reconcile what had muddied or clouded the thinking faculty of some of our school children in Delta State that they should audaciously rip their notes and textbooks to shreds after writing their final exams. This is barbaric!

To compound matters, those involved in this unethical practice brazenly claim to enjoy protection from the Ogas at the top and assert that this malfeasance is common knowledge among them and they receive proceeds on it. This situation raises troubling questions about whether and how this heinous practice can ever be eradicated if the very individuals charged with safeguarding the sanctity of exams are complicit in it. Regrettably, the scourge of examination malpractice has revealed itself to be highly sophisticated and multi-layered, with certain exam body officials such as WASSCE and NECO lining their pockets with bribes obtained from exam officials or school heads and conniving with them to destroy the future of innocent students.

Therefore, as concerned members of the education community, it is imperative that we collectively strive to eradicate such tendencies and enhance academic standards to provide growth opportunities for our students. Every stakeholder, be it principals, political office holders, teachers, school owners, traditional rulers, or parents, has a crucial role to play in upholding these standards and creating a more holistic educational experience for our children. By doing so, we not only safeguard the future of our students but also the future of our society. It is, therefore, a call to action for all to avoid such malpractices, raise educational standards, and enhance the reputation of our education across the board.

It is high time the Delta state government stopped paying lip service to education and took decisive measures to halt examination malpractice in primary and secondary schools because our educational system stinks horribly like foul-smelling stools, and it chokes terribly!

The government can take the following steps to strengthen the educational system:

(i) improving school infrastructure, increasing access to educational resources, and ensuring teachers are well-trained and adequately compensated;

(ii) creating serious awareness programs to educate students, parents, and teachers about the dangers of examination malpractice – this can include workshops, seminars, and campaigns on both electronic and print media;

(iii) increasing supervision during examinations – this can involve the deployment of impartial security personnel, invigilators, and monitors to ensure that the exams are conducted fairly and transparently;

(iv) enforcing strict sanctions, including legal actions, on students, teachers, school owners, supervisors, and those deployed to monitor exams who engage in examination malpractice, then, will serve as a deterrent to others who may be considering cheating and;

(v) finally leveraging technology to curb or prevent examination scams – this can involve the use of biometric technology, CCTV cameras, and electronic devices to monitor and regulate examination processes.

If the state government’s vociferous declarations regarding education are genuine, it is recommended that they implement the above measures; and I am convinced that if carefully and diligently executed, they will help reinstate sanity, integrity, transparency, and fairness in the examination process, which is not only pivotal to the long-term success of students but also to the advancement of our educational system and society as a whole.