Examination malpractice has become a normal occurrence among students’ world over, but more worrisome in Nigeria. Though there have been endless discussions on whether examination exercise should be expunged from school activity but there has not been any other substitute to assess the effectiveness of teaching and learning of both teachers and students respectively. Therefore, examination still remains one strong way of assessing academic activities in schools. Examination, as it were remains one of the Herculean tasks that is insurmountable for students generally irrespective of their level, sex, status or age. At the mention of examination, students begin to agitate, worry, pant, and express other general disposition of anxiety. Aside these common feelings toward examination especially in Nigeria, Ugo & Odimba (2010) submitted that there is over-reliance on results of examinations to secure higher education or to get jobs by the students; and there is high level of moral decadence in the society. Consequent upon these, students resort to various corrupt practices to achieve ‘successes’ in examinations.
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Ugo & Odimba (2010) described examination malpractice as any action done or omitted which makes it impossible to use an examination in determining the level of competence of a candidate in absorbing, reproducing, and where appropriate, applying knowledge. In effect, examination malpractice is any negative deviation or departure from the recommended and accepted norms in the conduct of examination. It is reported that students have devised several ways of practicing examination malpractice, among which are: impersonation; bringing in foreign materials (books, calculator); substituting worked scripts; stealing, converting, misappropriating scripts; collusion in the examination hall (copying); mass/organized cheating involving assistance from teachers and outsiders; and insult/assault on supervisors/ invigilators (Alutu & Aluede, 2010). In describing how institutionalized and fraternal examination malpractice has become in Nigeria, Ijaiya (2002) stated that the examination malpractice practitioners employ the services of adult agents/collaborators inform of the teachers, examination agents (in form of examiners in the case of external examinations), touts/mercenaries, as well as the parents to perform the act.
The common belief on certificates as the only yardstick to measure ones qualification has led many Nigerians into buying educational certificates to prove their academic worth. Examination malpractice in Nigeria is as old as the country herself. According to (Anzene, 2014), examination malpractice was first reported in Nigeria in the year 1914, when the question papers of the Senior Cambridge Local Examinations were reportedly seen by candidates before the scheduled date of the examination. The Examination Malpractice Act (1999) explains examination malpractice as any act of omission or commission by a person who in anticipation of, before, during or after any examination fraudulently secure any unfair advantage for himself or any other person in such a manner that contravenes the rules and regulations to the extent of undermining the validity, reliability, authenticity of the examination and ultimately the integrity of the certificates issued. Again, examination malpractice is commonly defined as a deliberate wrong doing contrary to official examination rules designed to place a candidate at an unfair advantage or disadvantage, (Akaranga & Ongong, 2013). Jimoh (2009) remarked that examination malpractice is any irregular behaviour exhibited by a candidate or anybody charged with the conduct of examination before, during or after the examination that contravenes the rules and regulations governing such examination. Onuka & Durowoju (2013) defined examination malpractice as any dishonest or unauthorized action or deed committed by a student on his own or in collaboration with others like fellow students, guardians, parents, teachers, head teacher, examination officials, supervisors, invigilators, security officers and anybody or group of people before, during or after examination in order to obtain undeserved marks or grades.
From all the definitions, it is clear that examination malpractice tends to confer undue advantage or undeserved grade to the perpetrators of the act. Again, it may be committed by not only the candidates but also by other bodies charged with the responsibilities of examination management. Undoubtedly, examination malpractice has been a social problem for decades, but the rate and manner it is perpetrated nowadays calls for serious concern. The rate of this crime has become so widespread that there is virtually no examination anywhere at all levels and outside the formal school system that there is no one form of illegal practice or another, (Nnam & Inah, 2015; Ojonemi et al., 2013). Examination malpractices are common everywhere and every examination season witnesses the emergence of new and ingenious ways of cheating, (Nnam &Inah, 2015; Anzene, 2014; Ojonemi et al., 2013; Jimoh, 2009). This study is however examining the causes and the effects of examination malpractices among SS3 students of secondary schools.