• Examiners must combat electronics-based malpractice to a standstill.
The certificate exam of the West African High School (WASSCE) of May / June 2019 conducted by the West African Examination Board (WAEC) witnessed moving events in the never-ending struggle against exam malpractice.
Attempts by unscrupulous supervisors and candidates to post questions on the social media platform of WhatsApp before the start of work were detected through the use of innovative monitoring systems that allowed the council to immediately identify the centers involved and stop the perpetrators.
According to the Head of the National Office (HNO) of WAEC in Nigeria, Mr. Olu Adenipekun, the culprits took photographs of the exam questions and sent them to their associates through WhatsApp. The recipients then prepare the answers and return them through the same route. WAEC's technology allowed it to centrally track, monitor, detect and frustrate a variety of malpractices committed in testing centers throughout the country. Several supervisors and candidates have been arrested and handed over to the police.
For a body whose functions have been continually impeded by certain and ingenious traps, this development is certainly welcome. The emergence of state-of-the-art information technologies, especially mobile phones, social networks and the Internet, has allowed desperate candidates to perpetrate bad practices not hindered by time and space restrictions that were previously insurmountable.
Electronic devices are now capable of storing large amounts of information, including text, audio and video, that can be sent or transmitted discretely with ease. The advent of so-called "portable technology" makes it possible to incorporate such devices into clothing or use them as fashion accessories to trick watchmen and gain an unfair advantage.
In 2000, six percent of the 636,064 candidates who submitted to the High School Certificate Examination, as it was known at the time, were involved in professional negligence. In the following year, five percent of 1,025,185 candidates were involved in malpractice. In 2017, the results of 13.79 percent of the 1.559 million candidates submitted to WASSCE were retained.
This unbridled deception is the consequence of a toxic mixture of excessive emphasis on the qualifications of certificates, pressure from parents and peers and collusion, as well as the virtual collapse of moral values in Nigerian society. The possession of the correct certificates has exceeded the competence and capacity. Dishonorable success is widely preferred to honorable failure. Ethical conduct has now given way to the achievement of successful results by any means.
WAEC attempts to counteract the bad practice in the examination by deploying innovative cutting-edge technology solutions must be proactive in responding appropriately to the scourge. Therefore, it must emulate the Joint Admission and Enrollment Board (JAMB) to anticipate and block the legal gaps that unethical candidates will continually seek to exploit.
The registration process must be infallible to avoid multiple registration of individual candidates. The examination itself should be improved with better biometric access control systems that make it impossible for mercenaries and other imitators to enter the sites.
Server strengthening systems must be continually refined and updated to prevent piracy of WAEC systems. The less easy the perpetration of bad review practices is, the sooner potential cheaters will realize that there can not be a viable alternative to legitimate preparation.
It is crucial that WAEC ensures that people who are detained for their participation in exam malpractice are prosecuted to the fullest extent possible by law. The council's protocols for dealing with such situations should ensure that the guilty parties are subjected to a strict, fair and invulnerable process of abuse or manipulation.
All cases must be followed properly; It is especially important that any attempt to get the police to abandon such cases is strongly resisted. There can be no better demonstration of WAEC's determination to fight against professional negligence in examinations than the diligent prosecution of the trapped ones who commit it.