by Adeosun Sheriff T.
Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (U.T.M.E) has violated all the worth of examination known to man.
In the year 2011, I was in one of the topmost room in Mariere Hall, University of Lagos. If you have ever stayed in hostels like Shodehinde Hall and Eni-Njoku Hall or Makama Bida Hall you will agree with me that the aforementioned hostels are a resemblance of the Ajegunles and the Mushins in Lagos State however Mariere Hall is UNILAG’s Victorial Garden City.
I remember the time was exactly 5:25AM on that date, Saturday June 18, 2011. As I listened to the second Adhan (the Islamic call to prayer) being recited by the muezzin (A person who calls to prayer) with joy as it was danceable. Of course, I remember I wasn’t dreaming or in Aljanna (Heaven); I was very sure I was awake. By the time the call to prayer got to “Allah-u Akbar” toward the end of adhan, a text message entered my phone. I thought as much that it could never be a bank alert as it’s my favourite alert. I thought of Monsuratu Kadiri , Opeyemi Musa and Romiti Ajayi as those that were likely to send me a SMS that early. I had errorneously concluded even before checking the message.
Alas, I was wrong! it was from 080332146***. On checking the content, I saw this- CHEM: 1. A,C,B,A,D,E,A,A,C,10. Etc.- At least 90% of Nigerian youths in and outside secondary schools can interpret these codes.
The first message that came to my mind was a welcome message- “Sheriff, welcome to the U.T.M.E Malpractices Festival 2011” I translated it into Yoruba Language as “Odun Orijo” . Ha! I laughed within myself as I was not expecting the examination leakage as early as 5AM though the leakage had been consistent for 15 years now. Immediately I hid my phone and headed down- stairs for prayer.
See, I am not trying to behave like a saint here- to be sincere with you, examination malpractice was not new to me as it would not be new to anybody within my age range but what will always be new is every year’s new inventions and how shameless parents, shameless teachers and we, shameless children promote examination malpractice in Nigeria. For Instance, from historical view, examination malpractice was learnt from the white men in the early sixties and the strategy then was – they take a whole textbook inside the examination hall for download; Chips (macro and micro) were invented in the 80’s and adopted throughout the 90’s and still never dropped even now.
Early 2000 saw the copying on desks, also known as ‘desktop publishing’; text messaging (SMS) for examination was first used for exam malpractice the year Nigerians employed using phone as a means of communication. November 2001 and 2002 experienced the boom in the organization of special and miracle centres (VIPs). Since 2011, the malpractice strategy has taken a new and technology driven dimension; apart from it being distributed online and as Blackberry broadcast, it is now advertised on different youth websites such as facebook pages. For example a page like Jamb help 2013 and social platforms such as www.naijaloaded.com (first thing on the website)- which means, we inherited it from our parents and uncles and we are growing and collecting degrees into it. Because if people around you do not tell you what a thing is called, you might not know.
So if you are reading this note and you are not familiar with all these slangs, please you need to upgrade your system because you may not have been involved in this shameful culture. Hardly will you write any examination in Nigeria that you won’t see how it’s been perpetrated and promoted.
And the past and current ministers of education including Mr President have never been sincere with us on examination malpractice in Nigeria. On the second day of all these examinations, the examination bodies chairmen, ministers, governors and Mr President will tell us “Glory be to God, yesterday’s examinations was a success” when yesterday’s examination was a national embarrassment. When almost all the candidates were not treated equal, when examination questions and answers were sold for as low as N100 on our streets and exam centres, when malpractice special centres abide on every corner of our community, when it has become some peoples profession to organise malpractice.
Rather than come out with the plain truth to save our system of education; they allow dishonesty to surround it. They pretend nothing has gone wrong. Sincerely, nothing has gone wrong- when they adopt the same medium to get their children, extended family members and children of friends into higher institutions.
That is not painful enough, but the thing that still worries my mind is what role the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (U.T.M.E) plays in our education system today. Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (U.T.M.E) has violated all the worth of examination known to man. Its roles have been diluted with corruption and all it does now is not examination but a medium for generating unaccountable money into government pockets or better still, a medium to exploit Nigerian Students.
Oh! I challenge the unpatriotic attitude and behaviour of critical players in that sector including Mr President (President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan). I challenge the facetiously laws designed by jokesters who called themselves lawyers and useless deterrents that are intended as warning to perpetrators and promoters of examination malpractices in Nigeria. How many people have they found guilty and prosecuted in spite of our record over 17 million people promoting examination malpractice every year in Nigeria? Perpetrators are hardly ever punished when we catch them and we know where and how to get them. Government has allowed us to be addicted to it. After all our Government officials are already addicted to stealing public funds and our lawyers are bias referees in the field of justice.
If discipline is to pervade the entire educational spectrum in our country, it must start at the top. We must learn to live by good principles and good examples. As I write this note, we hold a PhD in indiscipline. Sure, it’s our norm to play the ‘blame game’- Yes, Mr President, the two ministers of education, Maku, Abati and others may say they met the situation like that but what have they done to reduce it or better still, aren’t you allowed to resign if you cannot solve a problem. Why do we elect or appoint you? If not to find solutions to national problems that cause us international embarrassments? Why are we not facing what we have created?
To U.T.M.E, the fact that schools no longer have faith in the results of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (U.T.M.E) and need to organise post-UTME examinations is one key reason why the useless U.T.M.E should be scrapped. Or haven’t we seen enough gifted dullards who score above 300 in U.T.M.E and sincerely failed the school entrance examinations (Post U.T.M.E). I ask from you, why should we continue with U.T.M.E? Why should we not put to end an examination which trains candidates in corruption? Why should we allow students to buy U.T.M.E form for N3, 500 when they will spend at least N15, 000 for Schools entrance examinations?
The least Post U.T.M.E form cost N5,000 to buy inclusive of cost of transportation, excluding cost of feeding and accommodation and the U.T.M.E organizers has given Nigerian prospective students the grace to choose up to 6 different schools. And each school will exploit prospective students in the name of organizing Post U.T.M.E. – Post exploitation.
In finding accurate solution to the problem, Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (U.T.M.E) must be redesigned if not scrapped to serve a purpose or reclaim its already lost glory . Sincerely, there’s need for governments at all levels to carry out full sanitization in the education system and employ officials of unquestionable character because the education system is filled with people with questionable character. In the spirit of truth, the government and the legal system must stop toying with the education system by not using the examination malpractices act judiciously and wisely. The legal framework must be redesigned to punish offenders of rules immediately and the penalties should range from cancellation of results of candidates or centres, public blacklisting of officials, public blacklisting of schools, owners of web pages and websites, teachers and parents found in the act. Please remember that no body or organisation likes to be disgraced. And, there are never conferences on how to stop examination malpractices in our educational system. Please organise conferences from state to state because professionalism in examination malpractices varies from one state to the other.
Finally, to effectively fight the war against examination malpractices and other related habits in Nigeria, government must lay good examples, examination bodies must participate actively in ending the ugly scenario. Parents and guardians must deliberately discourage their children and wards from further participation in the act by stopping the enabling of examination malpractice for them. They must encourage the children and ward to study harder. I suspect that some readers may find my presentation of these issues to be insufficiently exhausting and not to their tastes. I am guilty.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.