Cultism and Examination Malpractices on the Quality of Education in the 21st Century Nigeria

November 2, 2017 Education

INTRODUCTION Many Nigerians were aware of the rot in the nation under the years of military dictatorship, but hardly knew the magnitude of the rot. As it is with the nation, so it is with the education sector; only those saddled with the responsibility of administering our education system can appreciate the crisis in the education system. And just as the damage done to the nation will take a long time to correct, sanitizing the education sector will take quite some years of continuous and determined reformation.

Many reform measures do not bear fruits overnight. This is even more so in the education sector. For example, the impact of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s free primary education was not fully felt among the Yoruba till the civil war and after, when they had to occupy Federal positions abandoned by the Igbo. The twin evils of campus cultism and examination malpractices entrenched themselves in the campuses during the years of military despotism.

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They are product of the years of decay while the nature of inter-campus linkages of cult groups as well as the sophistication with which malpractices are now being perpetuated in various examinations has made the matter more difficult to rout (Omabu, 2003). Aims and Objectives of Education in Nigeria Education has been described as the best legacy that any nation or individual could leave behind for generation yet to come. It is an invaluable asset, therefore, to both the individual and the society; since it has been also used from time immemorial, as a veritable instrument of cultural transmission.

Thus education, in one form or the other, had always been an integral part of the human society. Generally, forms of education could be broadly categorized into formal and informal. Whereas, the former takes place in a formal or official setting, compartmentalized and certificated with designated learners and teachers, the latter is not so clearly designed. It has a longer life-span commencing from birth and ending in the grave, with everyone around the learner constituting his teacher even as no certificate is required.

Yet, this form of education is as important as the former; if not more; if only for the fact that it is quite a practical thing with all the evidences of effective and functional noble expectations and objectives of the formal system of education. Indeed, it has a multilateral aim with the end objectives being to produce an individual who is honest, respectable skilled and cooperative and conforms to the social order of the day. According to Fafunwa (1974), seven aspects of these educational objectives can be identified and these include:- 1. To develop the child’s latent physical skills. . To develop character. 3. To inculcate respect for elders and those in position of authority. 4. To develop intellectual skills. 5. To acquire specific vocational training and to develop a healthy attitude towards honest labour. 6. To develop a sense of belonging and to participate actively in family and community affair. 7. To understand, appreciate and promote the cultural heritage of the community at large. Thus, it was for good reasons that the Nigerian formal education system took after these objectives as enunciated in the National Policy on Education (1981).

According to Policy, the broad objectives of Nigerian education should emphasize such things as:- i. The inculcation of the right type of value attitudes for the survival of individual society. ii. The training of the mind in building valuable concepts, generalizations and understand of the world around. iii. The acquisition of appropriate skills, abilities and competencies of both mental and physical nature as equipment for the individual to live in his society. iv. The acquisition of relevant and balance knowledge of facts about local and world phenomena.

In the light of the first two objectives above, Nigerian education was to be geared towards self realization, better human relationship, self and national economic efficiency, citizenship, national consciousness, national unity, social and political progress, science and technological progress as well as national reconstruction. In pursuance of the objectives therefore, our educational institutions (pre- to post-primary) have designed their programmes in such a way that functional individual who will be capable of contributing his quota to national development is produced.

But the question however remains as to what extent have these objectives been achieved? How well and indeed dependable are those measuring instruments such as internal and external examinations capable of producing the desired results? Evolutionary Trends in Cultist Activities in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions The phenomenon of campus cults in Nigeria dated back to 1952, when Wole Soyinka winner of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize for Literature-and a group of friends at the University of Ibadan formed the Pyrates Confraternity with the motto “Against all Conventions”.

The skull and cross bones were their insignia, cultivating a bohemian style that ridiculed the colonial attitudes mode of dress of the day. This caught on among students and over the next two decades, the fraternity, a non-violent body, became established in all the tertiary institutions that emerged in post-independence Nigeria. The emergence of campus cults as they are known in Nigeria today began with a split in the Pyrates Confraternity during the early 1970s when a breakaway group formed the Buccaneers Confraternity followed by the emergence of the Black Axe or the Neo-Black Movement.

Inter-group rivalry then set in, even though skirmishes between them were limited to fist fights. The 1980s saw the multiplication of cults in the more than 300 tertiary institutions across Nigeria as new groups such as the Eiye, Vikings, Amazons and Jezebel emerged, bringing with them more intensely violent rivalry. By 1984, when Soyinka initiated the abolition of the Pyrates Confraternity in all tertiary institutions, the phenomenon of violent had developed a life of its own.

By the mid-1980s, reports had it that some of the cults have been co-opted by elements in the intelligence and security services serving the military government such that they were used as foils to the left-wing student unions which, along with university teachers, were among the only remaining bastions of opposition to military rule. Cultism includes the activities of secret cults or societies that are very rampant in our institutions of learning today.

The founding fathers of such societies do not have the mind of carrying out evils but as a pressure group that can monitor and defend the interest of the immorality of students’ populace without violence. But the activities of the various cults seen day in our institutions are far from the above reasons. They have constituted themselves into gangs of “never-do-well” set of people. Their mission today is to loot, kill, steal and destroy lives and properties at will. The violence associated with them is reported to be as a result of battles for supremacy among them.

They have constituted themselves into a big cog in the wheel of Nigeria’s education development. Indeed, the growth and maturation of examination malpractice tendencies in our tertiary institutions have been considered as one of the direct fallouts of cultism. Hardly a month passes these days, without reports of deaths of students or staff resulting from cult-related violence. This has not only created an atmosphere of insecurity in our campuses, it is also diverting attention from the primary purpose of the universities which is education.

At a time when funding of these institutions are inadequate, and the standard of education is said to be falling, cultism and examination malpractices tendencies are clearly a big problem for the concerned authorities. Both of the most frequently discussed problems in the education sector today; since indiscipline in schools is central to the factors contributing to the fast dwindling, declining and deteriorating educational standard.

The various acts of indiscipline commonly perpetrated by students such as truancy, stealing, hooliganism, examination malpractices, sexual immoralities and cultism among others are all destructive to the educational system. Taiwo (2004) declared that “what we are all witnessing today in the education sector is a sad reflection of corruption in the society and the low priority placed on standardization and improvement of the intellectual custodians of our time by those in governance”.

This is against the fact that most members of these cults are from rich homes and are never serious with their studies; thus prompting their venturing into examination malpractices. Whenever they fail their courses, they react violently through their cult members against the teachers in charge of their failed courses. They operate at night and conduct initiation of new members at dawn in these institutions coming out with dangerous weapons at the middle of the nights when students who are ignorant of their activities fall victim.

The recent arrest of some students who were believed to be cult members at Esa-Oke Federal Technical College serves as typical case in point. The fire of cult terrorism on the campuses which raged on for about one year, after the half-heated spray of cult antidote by the Federal Government in 1999, has steadily intensified and burst into flames once more. In the first two weeks of August 2004, 33 students of three universities were brutally murdered in cultic butcheries, suspected to have been perpetuated by cult members among students of tertiary institutions.

Of the figure, 15 were of the Ebonyi State University, whose eight other students had similarly been killed the previous year. The rest 18 were of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology and the University of Nigeria Nsukka, whose five other students were shot dead in June, 2002, by cultists (Vanguard, 2004). The toll of the ever-intensifying cultic butcheries had to lecturers and officers of these institutions. Only recently, two lecturers, one each from the ESUT and the UNN, were shot dead by suspected cultists; while suspected terrorists threatened to kill the new Vice-chancellor of University of Benin, Prof.

Emmanuel Nwanze, if he failed to dismantle the committee on “Renunciation and Cultism”, which he set up after two medical students of the university were killed by suspected cultists. The cultists have also widened the scope of their operation to include armed robbery. Reasons for Prevalence of Cultist Activities in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions It is often claimed that some parents of these cultists are the brains behind the sponsoring of evil clubs releasing funds and weapons to them to carry out their obnoxious acts against humanity.

This indecent moral values impacted into these youths are giving them more confidence to feel that nothing will happen to them even if they are caught with the belief that money answereth all things. Cultism in larger society has become a celebrated phenomenon among the political class who equally happen to be in control of the wealth of the nation. There are enough resources to sponsor to sponsor the baby-cultist in our institutions by these sets of evidence their political opponents whether real or perceived.

Considering the various killings of innocent students in our institutions by cult members, one may want to ask, why have solutions eluded us these years in bringing a stop to the menace of this anti–social behaviour? We have remained in our present state of confusion for the number of reasons, which according to Taiwo (2004) include:- i. Lack of concerted and consistence political will to deal with the problem once and for all. ii. Constantly shifting and unsettled socio-cultural and educational policies and practices, which tend to negative previous efforts at solving the problem. iii.

Sudden and drastic dislocation of our scale of value whereby the intellectual custodians have become systematically relegated yielding place to other less important priorities. iv. Worshipping of money to discredit intellectual zealousness among the upcoming youths. Odili (2004) gave 11 possible causes of the rising cases of cultism in these institutions to include:- i. Erosion of Education Standards ii. Economic Difficulties iii. Emulation of Military Coupists iv. Adventurism and Egotism v. Sponsorship by Community Leaders vi. Lack of Integration vii. Peer Group Influence and Drug Addiction viii.

Bad Parenting and Erosion of Family Values ix. Oil Bunkering x. Sponsorship by Politicians. The diminishing economic prosperity also contributes greatly. There is the crisis of confidence and of faith in our educational institutions leading to a general state of anxiety and an erosion of confidence in getting jobs after school by the majority of the students. From the state of confusion to which the society exposed our youth, one may conclude that cultism is an offshoot and indeed a reflection of our corrupt society, which had for long plunged our educational sector into serious malfunctioning and dislocation.

The Guardian (2005), in an editorial, attempted an explanation of the situation and why the problem had remained seemingly intractable in the submissions that “The violence associated with the cults currently can be attributed to the general breakdown of values which we once held sacrosanct. The premium attached to human life has plummeted so badly that youths can now kill without flinching…”. We therefore cannot combat the cults menace without paying attention to the problem of the larger society.

An obvious explanation for the resurgence and worsening of cult crisis on the campuses is the inadequate, half-hearted enforcement of the measures already officially pronounced. The slaughter of five students of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife in one fell swoop in 1999 prompted Federal Government’s adoption of an anti-cult strategy, part of which was an offer of monetary incentive to repentant cult members among students nationwide. In keeping with some recommendations of judicial panel on the cultic killings too, the government vowed to establish a unit to identify secret cults and their activities in all tertiary institutions.

Also, the government empowered heads of the institutions to summarily dismiss any student properly identified as a cult member, and proposed a data-bank of students so dismissed to forestall their re-admission into any other similar institutions in Nigeria. Had these measures been adequately enforced, the soaring rate of cultic terrorism would have been drastically reduced. But the government has merely pointed its anti-cult armoury without really using the weapons to fight the bloody cults.

Besides, the government’s order to heads of tertiary institutions to summarily dismiss cult members among their students is rendered ineffectual by the plea of the police, in a number of cases, of non-existence of a relevant laws to prosecute students for their involvement in cult activities; as the long-standing decree prohibiting cultism on the campuses is rendered unenforced, null and void. Such expelled students have often safely returned to their institutions for being secret cult members brandishing court orders for their reinstatement.

The kid-glove handling of serious cult cases by the police and the judiciary, combined with the thickening suspicion that a number of rich parents, influential politicians and government officials sponsor cultism on the campuses, gives the cultists the erroneous feeling that they would always escape punishment, or if at all convicted, would suffer mild punishment (Daily Champion, 2004). Implications of Cultist Activities in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions All these are not without their very grave implications worth mentioning here.

Although not all the students are involved in cultism, the few that are involved do considerable damage to the system. Since violent cult activities started, thousands of students have lost their lives to it while properties worth millions have also been destroyed. Apart from the injured and those rusticated or expelled, troubled universities students are generally known for their activism everywhere. Together with the media and civil societies, they help to protest against bad policies of government.

The Vietnam War for instance, ended after heavy protests by students and other civil groups. British students recently protested against the proposed hike in fees by their government. All these are positive actions by university students. Although Nigerian students have, over the years, contributed their quota to national development, the issue of cultism has come to dent their image. If it is true that the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow, then the stackholders in education must rise up to the challenges posed by the courge of cultism. Despite the much already done in this regard, more still need to be done to eradicate cultism from our institutions of higher learning. Summarily, Odili (2004) pinpointed 7 implications of this trend to include the following:- 1. Destruction of Lives and Properties 2. Upsurge in Crime due to Arms Proliferation 3. Epileptic University System 4. Loss of Prospective Investors 5. Loss of Government Revenue through Illegal Bunkering 6. Cost of Maintaining Law and Order 7. Threat to Government

Nature and Types of Examination Malpractices among Students Today in Nigeria, there has been an increasing occurrence of examinations malpractices among students than ever before, permeating every public examination, like the West African Examination Council (WAEC) Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and lately National Examination Council (NECO) with rampant cases of examinations results not released or cancelled outright for many candidates. Most of these cases have come to be linked directly to examination malpractices.

Similarly, institutions of higher learning have gone sophisticated in these malpractices to the extent that reports of expelled students on account of these have become a common occurrence; going on unabated. It is even believed that many prospective candidates seeking admission into higher institutions today often employ others to write the examinations for them. This readily explains the antecedent of those found with the habit in institutions of higher learning. This is because they tend to carry on, with more sophistication though, when they get into the institutions.

Little wonder then that the cult platform will seem particularly appealing to this group of students as an easy escape, with a view to shoring up their academic bankruptcy. Hence the rather mutual relationship that lies between cultism and examination malpractices in these institutions. Meanwhile, the New Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language (1992) defines examination as a formal, written, spoken or practical test especially at school or college, to see how much you know about a subject, or what you can do. On the other hand, the term alpractice refers to careless, wrong or illegal behaviour while in a professional job (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 2000). Olanipekun (2003) views it as ‘the failure to carry out properly or honestly condition specified by the examination body (School authority, for example) for the evaluation of students in a programme of study’. It implies therefore that any student who before, during, after or in anticipation of any examination or test goes against the rules and regulations guiding the conduct of the examination is involved in examination malpractices.

Examination malpractices come in varying forms, shapes and sizes; with differing designations such as ‘microchips’, ‘macro-chips’, ‘download’, ‘laptop’, ‘giraffe’ and quite recently, the use ‘mercenaries’. Micro and macro chips are same techniques except for the variation in the sizes of the imported materials. Whereas the former has to do with small pieces of extraneous materials imported into the examination’s venue, the latter is of more significant size. “Download” refers to the bringing in of the whole text from which the candidate intends to copy.

Sometimes the scientific calculator can be used for the storage of relevant data, formulas etc. to be downloaded for use in the examination hall. As for ‘laptop’, the individual candidate’s lap is used as the writing surface from where relevant information can be copied in the examination as the need arises. This type is more prevalent among female in view of the fact that it is rather easier to do with the wearing of skirts. “Giraffe” happens to be the age-long style whereby candidates use neck-stretching to look at what another person was doing.

All these have, however, come to look like a child’s play when compared with the sophistication and artistry that mercenary represents. A major difference between mercenary and other forms of examination malpractices is that whereas the actual candidates in question perpetuate other forms, ‘mercenary’ involves the recruitment of an external body to write the examinations on the candidate’s behalf. The examination mercenary syndrome thus refers to the practice whereby candidates employ and pay external person(s) to sit in and write examinations on their behalf.

Usually, the mercenary is considered as the intellectual where-withal to write the examinations successfully for the one who has engaged his ‘services’. This is because, such an individual either comes from higher institutions of learning or had already succeeded in similar examinations in the past. When ‘mercenary’ is used in institutions of higher learning, he is either a more competent hand in the course concerned or it is so believed. Sometimes, candidates from other institutions of higher learning are imported for the job.

It suffices to state categorically that the syndrome is almost completely male-dominated generally associated with monetary incentives, reward or gratification, and sometimes to compensate an amorous relationships. There have also been a few other cases where the ‘mercenary’ is self-employed, that is, doing it (in compassion, they claim) for someone who, in actual fact, has not solicited such a service in the first place. Friends, sometimes male, often do this for their female colleagues as a demonstration of true friendship.

Thus, it can be concluded from the foregoing that it is the ‘mercenary’ and means of settling the fees to be charged which, of course, varies from one ‘mercenary’ to the other. Implications of Examination Malpractices in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions This unfortunate development in our educational system represents a high sophistication to which examination malpractices had risen in recent times. Sadly too, some parents have been found to encourage the perpetuation of this ugly act by their children/wards either directly or indirectly.

Not only has this contributed to the diminishing standard of our education, but it has also helped to cast aspersion on individual candidates’ certificates, which many often claimed, have not always been a true reflection of their academic standing. Due to this weak background, it is not surprising therefore that many candidates who secured admission into higher institutions with such results have been much of a disappointment. They simply could not leave up to their billings in all ramifications.

Attendant frustration often result in sundry other malpractices in examinations to such an extent that they are sooner or later certified as academically unfit and marked for withdrawal on academic ground. Desperate ones among them would want to do all things possible to hang on. This often take them to all kinds of anti-social vices, prominent among which is cultism. The individual, which is the bedrock of the society, is by this token, being malformed and deformed for the future. There is no doubt therefore, that all kinds of examination malpractices stand condemnable by all the stakeholders in the education sector.

This is for the simple fact that to compromise academic standards is one sure way to mortgage, if not the present, certainly the future of a people. Our today, and whatever it stands for, represents the foundations of our tomorrow. Prevalence of examination malpractices, especially the mercenary syndrome, indicates the weak foundations upon which we are to build our tomorrow therefore. Yet, our credible and lasting tomorrow is already being endangered with this ever-increasing wave of academic frauds and immoral dispositions (Issa, 2003).

Although many of such students end up with brilliant results, especially at external examinations, they often find it difficult to live up to those results after securing admission into institutions of higher learning. Their apparent inability to cope well in their studies, quite often, leads to frustration thereby encouraging their environment into cultism and other related social vices. The bulk of them end up badly in their academic pursuits while the remaining few who would have crookedly sailed through to the end become social misfits.

For one, they are hardly good at their jobs even as the anti-social tendencies remain with them throughout life. Yet, human resources have been considered the most vital of all resources needed for both individual and societal developments. Incidentally, the education system represents the most veritable instrument with which human resources could be created and developed. It therefore goes without saying that the individual and society’s success in ensuring the laying of a good foundation for our tomorrow lies in our ability to rise above the challenges posed by this trend in examination malpractices and cultism. The Way Forward

Hope is not lost yet once we are alive to the rescue mission. With respect to cultism, one cannot but agree with Odili (2004) on his 7-point agenda for a way forward, which are: 1. Moral Upbringing of Children. 2. Public Enlightenment Advocacy by the Media. 3. Re-orientation in our Tertiary Institutions and Better Funding. 4. Integrity Watch for Business, Community and Political Leaders. 5. Anti-cult Law 6. Law Enforcement 7. Job Creation and Good Governance Beyond enforcing the relevant laws on campuses, the government should step out to improved the university environment, which tends to be a fertile ground for breeding cultists.

Given the uncongenial condition of the universities, bereft of teaching and learning materials, teachers’ incessant strikes, examination malpractices and school shut downs, students have found cult activities quite appealing. Their utmost goals of vain glory and supremacy are cheaply attainable through enlistment in cults. If universities are meant to impart knowledge and mould character, while their degrees and diplomas are awarded only to people found worthy in leaning and character, then any student identified as a cultist, murderer, or robber should be punished accordingly.

They must not be allowed to remain hit-squads and agent of destruction of lives and property. Only the full weight of the law can warn them that cultism is evil, and pays no dividends. As for the case of examination malpractices, there would be the need to change our orientation and value system, which seemed to emphasize the erroneous at all cost and by all means belief, which are not only negative but also counter-productive. It is high time we begin to have a sound realization of the fact that it is not only by having a degree that one can succeed or excel in life.

It is much more beyond that, because there are still a score of people who, in spite of not having a degree, actually succeeded and excelled in their chosen careers. The point must also be made that it is far better to be a self-reliant, successful artisan than an unemployed, jobless and street-roaming degree holder. If we succeed in this orientation bid, hopes are that majority of those that would remain will be those who interested in pursuing serious active studies would match the requirement and demands of a standard educational system.

Finally, students must be made to understand and appreciate hard work, dedication and commitment to studies. This is where the teachers and the entire school authority need to be highly responsible and responsive. Students must be treated and dealt so as to encourage others to even better performance thereby looking up to them as source of inspirations. At that point in time, when the majority would have come to appreciate hard work, examination malpractices in general, the mercenary syndrome as well as cultism, would have been relegated to the status of an abnormality, as against the restigious status they currently enjoy. REFERENCES Aje S. A. (2001) Problems of Cultism in Nigerian School, Ilorin. Afri – Focus Investment Daily Champion, Nigeria (2004) “Alarming Rise in Cultism”. An Editorial Opinion in Daily Champion, Nigeria. August 30th (Available at: http://champion-newspapers. com/) Edeki, E. (2004) “Personal View: Curbing Cultism in our Educational System”. Vanguard on line Edition January 05. (Available at: http:www. Vanguardonline. com/) Fafunwa A. B. (1974) History of Education in Nigeria London: George Allen. P. 20.

The Guardian Newspaper (2005) “Editorial on the Upsurge in Cultist Activities” March 16 (Available at: http://www/. guardiansnewspapernigeria. com/) Issa, A. O. (2003) ‘Examination Mercenary Syndrome and the Future of Nigerian Educational System’. A Speech Delivered at the First Book Fair “FEDPOFFA 2003”. Organized by FEDPOFFA Consult (1981) Federal Ministry of Education: Lagos. Rev. ed. P. 45. New Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language (1992). New York: Lexicon Publications INC. P. 625. Odili, P. (2004) “The Cult Phenomenon and Security Implications” A paper presented at the Summit of Security at the House of Representative, Abuja.

Olanipekun, N. O. (2003) Examination Malpractices in Nigeria Schools: An Indepth Analysis, Offa: Royal Prestige Venture Omabu, O. (2003) ‘Campus Cult Violence Claims 115 Lives’. This Day News September 4. (Available at: http:/This Day News Nigeria. com/) Oyebanji, M. (2003) Campus Confraternities. Oro: Fabule Press. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of English Language (2000). Great Clarendon, Oxford University Press P. 399. Taiwo, A. (2004) “Campus Cults: a Reflection of a Corrupt Society”. Daily Times Nigeria. May 13 (Available at: http//www/. daily times of Nigeria. com).


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