Arts and Books

Exam Malpractices: Where Does Surveillance Tech Come In?

Overshadowed by pressing problems like insecurity and economic challenges, other issues like examination malpractices have been flourishing at the background in the country. As part of measures to curb the notorious school practice, the Anambra State Government has said plans were underway to commence the deployment of technology to monitor examinations in public schools across the state.

Prof. Kate Omenugha, Anambra State Commissioner for Basic Education, noted that the initiative would help stamp out examination malpractice in the state. She averred that the state government had approved the installation of Internet Protocol (IP) cameras in examination halls of all public schools in the state. Private schools in the state have also been directed to install IP cameras in their examination halls.

According to her, “The installation of these IP cameras, is part of the revolutionary plans to improve education in the state. It will prevent students from cheating during exams as well as help instill in our students the confidence that they need to face examinations without any external aid.”

Education is considered the bedrock of advanced economies and societies. But it takes more than just education. Laying the foundation upon which education is learnt and taught is crucial. This is ensured by examinations.

One of the principal aims of examination is to assess how much learning has taken place and to what extent the educational objectives and goals have been achieved. Regrettably, examination malpractice keeps posing a threat to proper education in the country, and the various merits accrued to it. While stiffer measures have been put in place to tackle this menace, perpetrators still find their way to beat the system. Oftentimes, they insult, embarrass, threaten, and even assault invigilators and supervisors who fail to co-operate with them in the unholy practice.

The problem of examination malpractice is in fact multi-dimensional. Some schools and players within the system have been reported to be aiding and abating the act. A good number of parents and wards are equally culpable. The use of surveillance technology in tackling examination malpractice is thus a welcome development that other states ought to adopt.

CCTV cameras, when installed in strategic positions in examination halls, can be used to monitor in real-time the activities of both candidates and exam facilitators such as invigilators.

Such unbiased machine monitoring or surveillance enhances proper invigilation of exams, ensures that participants in the examination conduct themselves properly in a transparent manner, and instills confidence in the participants against molestation or wrong accusation of malpractice. It also gives the examiner confidence that his/her exam is free and fair and can equally be verified.

Although CCTV has many functions, the primary preventive utility of CCTV is to trigger what tech experts describe as a perceptual mechanism in a potential offender. In other words, CCTV including drones, aim to increase the perceived risk of capture. This is a factor which, assuming the offender is behaving in a rational (or limited rational) manner, will demotivate the potential offender.

However, the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing maintained that for this crime prevention process to be effective it must take into cognisance certain elements.

Crime prevention mechanism requires that all candidates to know they are being watched. The offender must therefore be aware of the presence of the surveillance technology, and believe the cameras and monitoring devices present enough risk of capture to negate the intended crime. This also means that the cameras must be conspicuously positioned in such a manner that every candidate will notice their presence and functionality.

In addition, the functionality of the CCTV must be proved beyond all reasonable doubt by also installing a monitor of the system at a conspicuous place in the examination hall where every participant can view that it is functioning.

The Digital Video Recorder (DVR) component of the CCTV system has the capacity to record and store for future review the video or images captured by the cameras. Footage of a CCTV can thus be used as proof in the event that malpractice is carried out. Drones are equally very useful as they will act as eyes in the sky.

It is believed that with CCTV and drones, incidences of malpractice during exams in Nigeria can be drastically reduced given that both surveillance technologies have the capacity to ensure that examinations are properly monitored and recorded, serve as deterrence to potential offenders, and provide footage evidence to that effect.

However, it costs a fortune to purchase and install these technologies. An average drone costs $100, while the least CCTV camera is $150-$200. But if the educational system must be sanitised, these options are worth it.

There are other steps that can complement the use of surveillance technology in tackling this odious practice. One of such is the organs responsible for the promotion of ethics in society.

It is usually assumed that corruption is only accrued to politics and those who dominate the space, whereas, it cuts across all strata of society. The education sector is even more bewildered by this social menace in form of examination practice where many do not know or undermine it as a form of corruption.

Necessary measures ought to be put in place to make the corrupt practice investigation bureau, code of conduct bureau, anti-corruption commission, among others function to deal with the perpetrators so as to serve as a deterrent for future offenders.

The government and school administrators can as well organise consistent seminars and workshops to educate the students, parents, lecturers, teachers, and school administrators on the implications of examination malpractice for the student and the country at large.

An Indian proverb says there are no bad students only bad teachers. This saying admits that some teachers are culpable in their inability to transmit knowledge to the students. The necessary provisions in terms of adequate infrastructural facilities and qualified staff can thus be made to assist in the genuine transmission of knowledge and skills. To facilitate the knowledge transmission process, a manageable student-staff ratio for proper supervision is germane.

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Nigeria’s current situation might be close to that of South Africa when a University lecturer noticed that the public was not mindful of challenges like examination malpractice which they considered to be little to destroy the country.

In a presentation, he titled “The Collapse of Education is the Collapse of the Nation”, he stated that, “Collapsing any nation does not require the use of atomic bombs or the use of long-range missiles. But it requires lowering the quality of education and allowing cheating in the exams by the students.

“Patients will die in the hands of the doctor who passed his exams through cheating. Buildings will collapse in the hands of an engineer who passed his exams through cheating. Money is lost in the hands of an accountant who passed his exams through cheating.

“Humanity dies in the hands of a religious scholar who passed his exams through cheating. Justice is lost in the hands of a judge who passed his exams through cheating. And ignorance is rampant in the minds of children who are under the care of a teacher who passed exams through cheating.

Protecting the integrity of every examination should resonate with everyone, everywhere because if any country is not mindful, some things many consider to be very little could be destroying her existence surreptitiously.