WHILE inaugurating a Federal Government committee called the Implementation Committee on Release My Result recently, the Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Rufa’i, was reported to have given a directive which ordered the blacklisting of examination centres nationwide variously called “miracle”, “magic”, “special” and identified to be promoting examination malpractices.

THESE ‘miracle’ centres are examination centres for public examinations like JAMB, NECO, NABTEB and WASCE and the GCE where candidates are guaranteed success in these examinations irrespective of their capabilities or levels of preparation. For a fee, usually astronomical, the candidates are encouraged and facilitated to abase all examination rules and regulations in order to pass the examinations. In some cases, examination centres in rural and distant places, where access roads are bad, provide ample opportunities to perpetrate these examination malpractices on a grand scale. If the examination supervisor, invigilators are amenable, it can be good business, and where these supervisors or invigilators are too strict, it could pose a dangerous threat to their lives.

SOME strict examination supervisors/invigilators have been killed, maimed, bathed in acid by desperate candidates who erroneously think that their progress in life is wholly dependent or determined by their success at these public examinations. Having failed on a number of occasions, they resort to desperate gimmicks to pass these examinations at all costs. Examinations malpractices remain the most formidable of all the challenges confronting the country’s educational system. On account of it, a former executive secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) once observed that Nigerian graduates have become unemployable.

IT is incumbent on the managers of the system, who Professor Rufa’i as the Minister of Education represents, to erect structures that will reduce these malpractices to the barest minimum. Also, it behoves the management of such examination bodies to ensure that the certificates issued by the bodies which they manage are to a large extent beyond reproach.

WE are aware that there are now very strict laws in Nigeria which recommend stiff penalties for those who engage in examination malpractices, from heavy fines to prison terms and in some cases both for offenders. Sadly, however, because many laws in Nigeria are observed in the breach, only a few people probably have been so punished. We recall with remorse that a few years ago, some people were apprehended during a public examination in Lagos but we cannot recall that they were punished.

IN any event, if these strict laws have failed because of lax enforcement and the corrupt milieu of the social context, how then can blacklisting of “miracle centres” be of any help in stamping out examination malpractices? The logic is really elementary. The ‘miracle centres’ are mere locations whereas examination malpractices are acts which tend to dislocate the values of the society. If certain centres are blacklisted, will that stop the felons from shifting their base elsewhere? The directive of the minister to blacklist certain ‘miracle’ centres is to us laughable as a means of stamping out examination malpractices and the consequences therefrom, such as the non-release of results.

WE think that experts on tests and assessment in education should be consulted and the examination bodies should be many steps ahead of the criminals who are desperate to impugn the integrity of their certificates. We also think that examples ought to be made of those who are caught in the act of examination malpractices by making them go to jail in order to reform them. It should all be in the bid to establish that such crimes do not pay after all. As long as people who engage in examination malpractices are set free to profit from their nefarious deeds, examination ‘miracle’ centres will mushroom in a way that will shock the minister.

THERE is also the need to reorientate Nigerians away from the undue emphasis on paper qualification that says very little about the skills of the owners. A society which has lost a proper system of assessment and evaluation of its manpower, such as Nigeria, needs reinvention and redemption from an impending doom.

FG on JAMB, NECO, NABTEB , WASCE and the GCE Miracle Centres.