Principals, teachers of some private and public schools in Akute, Ogun state,
are encouraging examination malpractice for a fee
By ‘Temi Olubunmi
Akute, a budding community, constitutes a substantial part of a population of over 530,000 people (2006 census), which make up the Ifo Local Council in Ogun state.
Dubbed a ‘sleeping community’, Akute and its environs play hosts to mostly civil servants and business men and woman individuals whose offices are in neighbouring Lagos State, because of the proximity to the Ikeja, the acclaimed commercial nerve centre.
Though deprived of infrastructure like good roads, modern healthcare services and schools, these communities still experience an influx of new inhabitants, who are relocating from Lagos with some of them moving into their properties.
The shortage of social amenities to cater for the huge number of citizens, mostly made up of school-age children, has led to the proliferation of privately owned and managed kindergarten and secondary schools.
At the moment, Akute and its adjoining towns have over 100 private schools of different shades and sizes, religious affiliations; operating diverse curricula, ranging from Nigerian to British.
Worthy of note is the claim by owners of these schools that they were established to fill the vacuum created by the inadequate number of good public schools within the vicinity.
There are, indeed, less than seven public primary and secondary schools in the areas, most of which are operating in dilapidated structures and many unqualified teachers
However, investigations by The Intellectual reveal that the schools have been engaging in large scale examination malpractices, especially during external examinations being conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and the National Examination Council (NECO).
Students of both private and lately public schools within the areas comprising Akute, Alagbole, Olambe, Matogun and Giwa/Oke-Aro were involved during the last external examinations. Each day during the last West African Senior School Certificate examination (WASSCE), students sat in their respective halls, while subject teachers moved to secluded places to solve the questions in batches, with some other collaborating teachers copying the answers simultaneously. The answers were then shipped back to the students.
All this took place under the supposed ‘watchful eyes’ of the invigilators, who sources say were paid as little as N1,500. One invigilator who participated lamented: “One cannot even negotiate the amount, because it is more like a fixed price. If you threaten to stop them, you will get a call from your principal asking you to play ball. If you are unlucky, nobody bothers to even offer you a cup of water. They just hand you an envelope at the end of the day, containing amounts between N1,000 N2,000.”
A school teacher, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, explained the background: “This rubbish started after WAEC and NECO decided to start appointing invigilators from within a particular area, to oversee examinations within the same localities. All a proprietor needs to get an invigilator to compromise, is to put a call through to the proprietor or principal of the school the invigilator is coming from, which is within the area, and threaten that if he doesn’t play ball, his representative would retaliate when he comes to their own school.”
The magazine learnt that teachers who refuse to cooperate are punished or could be sacked.
“When you refuse to bend to their will and solve the questions for these students during examinations,” a source revealed, ” they punish you with all kind of measures. It is either they cut off some of the usual packages you enjoy, or post you from the secondary section to teach in a primary school as a class teacher. And if you are unlucky, you get sacked.”
Another teacher said: “I stood my ground and what did I get in return? A loan that I had applied for, that had already been approved, was suddenly slashed. And you know what they told me? ‘If everyone (all teachers) refuse to help the students during examinations and they all fail, won’t parents withdraw their children from the school? And if they do, where will we get money to grant loans?’ ”
He continued: “Who will feed my family if I refuse to teach them and I am sacked? My brother, there are no jobs in Nigeria now, so let me keep the one that I have. I think what I can do is make the best of it, by seeing how I can also make money from it.”
But what if a supervisor from either WAEC or NECO turns up suddenly? The sources stated that the security men are under firm instructions to watch out for strange faces.
“We usually tell our gatemen to first of all make sure that the gate is always locked,” one teacher said. “And when they see any strange person coming in, whether the person introduces himself as a WAEC/NECO staff or not, the security men must first go to the principal’s office and get clearance before opening the gate. The period between when the gateman alerts us and when he returns to open the gate would have given us enough time to put things in order.”
Yet another teacher stated: “What hurts the most is that these students, when they get to SS2 (Senior Secondary Two), they don’t want to take their studies seriously any more. Since they are close to these graduating students, they have firsthand knowledge of what happens during external examinations. So, why will they read anymore? Sometimes, they even tell us to our faces that if it gets to their turn and we refuse to teach them, we will be sacked.”
Some parents have contributed to the debacle. While some are oblivious of the trend, others know and even pay certain subject teachers separately to attend to their children or wards inside the hall, according to a source
Reacting to revelations, an education expert observed: “this explains why our Universities are churning out unemployable graduates today. With such a foundation, when these children get into higher institutions, they don’t want to study, but rather depend on paying their way through. They even have conniving parents.”
Efforts to get reactions from both WAEC and NECO officials were unsuccessful.
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