EXAM MALPRACTICES LIVE!…ARE WAEC AND NECO CERTIFICATES SMOKE AND MIRRORS? (3)

CONTINUATION

The homepage of jazzyfans was designed as an all-purpose site for young students. The banner had a green, nondescript crest. At the top of the homepage was the site’s menu, which included music, video, Naija news, entertainment, technology, education and sports.Listed below the site were a mix of links to wide-ranging subjects, including education, politics, entertainment and answers to examination questions.

The same was the case on waploaded. The site’s menu included forum, music, videos,stories, among others.

On the homepage of examsanswer, there was a stern caveat requesting mobile airtime to be sent to the site’s administrators before answers would be provided.The password-protected site read, “WAEC English answers: Direct mobile/SMS — N800 MTN card. Online answers/password — N400 MTN card; send your MTN card, phone number,subject, exam type(WAEC/NECO/NABTEB) to 08107077307.

“Subscription ends one hour before exam starts.Don’t even expect free answers.We don’t talk much.Please note: MTN LINE is best for our runz (business), we can manage Etisalat airtime; each subject costs N800, while practicals cost N400 for direct mobile; each subject/practical costs N400 for link/online answer. Do not call us, just text, know the difference between link/online answer and direct mobile.
“JAMB/NECO and NABTEB GCE enquires only — 08107077307.”
Halfway through the two-hour paper, the external invigilator and female NSCDC officer only watched as the examination hall became rowdy. Most candidates began to switch seats to copy from one another.

Tales of desperation

A particular NSCDC official tried to act tough during the examination. She had gone round telling everyone to make sure they put their mobile phones and other incriminating evidence away because anyone caught in a compromising position would not be spared.

A female candidate, who looked to be in her mid-20s at least, angrily said to the hearing of everyone nearby that she had written SSCE exams no less than five times, mostly at special centres.

“I dare her to stop me! After collecting my N25,000, they want to tell me rubbish. They should try it first. Is it today I started writing exam?” the female candidate said after the NSCDC official’s threat.

The invigilator later gathered all the candidates into one class and supervised the free exchange of answers, while the once scowling NSCDC officer watched in silence.

The Mathematics teacher also wrote out answers on the whiteboard as we hurriedly copied into our answer booklets.

After the teacher had written out the first answer, Bash asked him to stop in order for him to collect a random N100 fee from each candidate. Those that didn’t pay were prevented from writing. When Bash was satisfied, he asked the teacher to resume.

On June 18, when I sat for English Language, the female NSCDC officer had been replaced by a more accommodating male officer.

Like most of the other papers, it was a walk in the park. Half of the class brandished their mobile phones in search of the answers. Only Type A answers were provided, so those like myself, who had other question types, used the answers as a guide in answering our respective question types.

Candidates occasionally dashed back and forth between desks to compare answers, while the easy-going invigilator watched. The case was the same with the multiple-choice and essay papers of Government and Economics.

The missing key

At 10am on June 23, the day of the Biology multiple-choice and essay papers, when the paper should have begun, the invigilator could not find the key to the padlocked courier bag of exam question papers.

The NSCDC officer said one of the coordinators had forgotten the key at home and had to go back to retrieve it. While candidates across the country had completed the multiple-choice questions, no candidate at my centre had laid eyes on an answer booklet.

We all sat in our classrooms idle. Before long, some had put their heads on desks and drifted into sleep. It wasn’t until over an hour after the official starting time for the paper that the question papers and answer booklets were distributed. We started the paper at 11:11am.

Still, many of us completed the paper in record time as the coordinators furnished us with the answers by writing them on the whiteboards as we hurriedly copied.

Friday, July 3, was my last paper, Christian Religious Studies. I was an hour late for the exam because of traffic but I decided to feign a fever as this was the only tenable excuse. I told the invigilator that I had just left the hospital. He asked for my medical bill or report, but I did not have one. He then asked me to pay the sum of N300 before I could go into the exam hall.

After paying, he led me to a seat with two other candidates who were copying the answers off a website using their phone.
After a while, the invigilator fetched a CRS textbook for Junior Secondary School which had some answers and placed it on my desk.

One bright spot

On July 1, when it came time to take Literature-in-English (Drama and Poetry), the story changed. The external invigilator on duty was a woman in her late 40s who would not condone any misconduct. Her strictness first became apparent when, just before the paper started, the handful of candidates taking the paper decided to scatter themselves in the classroom. But she ordered that there must be no empty seat in front of anyone. That way, no one could escape her watchful eye throughout the paper.

The silence that hung over the entire hall was deafening. Even when Bash came in momentarily to whisper something to the hearing of the taciturn woman, as he did other invigilators before her, we all saw her unflinching resolve and we accepted our fate.

Throughout the paper, the silence was so thick that one could cut it with a knife. The friendly NSCDC officer could not help us. When two candidates arrived one hour into the exam, she told them, “Let me tell you, you have set yourself up to fail woefully. I am not cursing you; I am just saying it as it is. If you want to fail, you will fail.”

With each passing minute, the paper seemed to last longer than the one hour and 40 minutes allotted.

Playing the ostrich

When contacted on SUNDAY PUNCH’s findings, the Information Officer, NECO, Mr. Sani Azeez, told our correspondent that once the exam body found any school engaged in malpractices, it banned it.

He said, “You are making a very grievous allegation. The consequence is that once the council is able to establish that such a centre exists, the centre will be banned.

“If you can cast your mind back to when the results were released, some centres were blacklisted. It could be that they would be outright banned from conducting NECO exams. That is why I want the details of that centre.”

A Senior Lecturer in the Department of Educational Foundations and Counselling, Obafemi Awolowo University, Dr. Bamidele Faleye, said members of the illicit exam network are enemies of the state that must be apprehended by whatever means necessary.

He said, “As someone who has worked directly with NECO, I am surprised to hear this. While serving as an examiner, I only heard about such centres without ever actually encountering anyone. But an end must be brought to this ugly trend.”

On September 10, the NECO Registrar, Abdulrashid Garba, announced the results of its June/July 2015 SSCE exams with a 16 per cent pass rate improvement.

Garba, while making the announcement in Minna, said 68.56 per cent of candidates had more than five credits, including Mathematics and English Language.

Explaining that the 2015 result was an improvement on that of 2014, in which 52.29 per cent had above five credits, Garba noted that 969,491 candidates wrote the examination out of 969,991 who registered.
He added that 0.11 per cent cases of malpractice were recorded and that the results of candidates involved had been cancelled.

“The 2015 examinations result was released within 60 days after the final paper. This shows a great success achieved by the council.
“Lists of schools which were involved in examination malpractice have been blacklisted and the results of students who wrote in such centres have been cancelled,” he said.

Two days after Garba spoke, I logged on to the website of the National Examination Council to check my result. I smiled sadly as my fairly good result was displayed in front of me: English Language (B3); Mathematics (C4); Civic Education (C4); Biology (C5); Christian Religious Studies (C5); Government (C4); Economics (C5); and Literature-in-English (E8).

Going by my result, I was one of the lucky 969,491 candidates who, according to Garba, were not involved in examination malpractice.

Copyright PUNCH.

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