The decision of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to probe the certificates of candidates in the last ten years is very timely and quite necessary.
For a system that has become so inundated with examination malpractices and cheating that they have become the norm, the plan to institute a probe is a bold move that recaptures the long forgotten essence of quality control.
Besides being a deterrent to future cheats, this probe has the potential of curbing long-term social and humanitarian effects of the thriving industry of examination fraud on the society.
The head of Media and Information of JAMB, Fabian Benjamin, who disclosed this decision stated that the probe had begun and a software had been purchased for that purpose.
Should the probe be carried through as planned, the implication would be that persons who are found to have cheated in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) to gain university admission and have graduated or carried out their National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme, would be arrested and have their certificates invalidated.
In recent times, there has been a rise in the performance rates of many candidates in the UTME. This is especially in places and schools where it should be relatively difficult for students to excel that well given the inauspicious environment for learning.
In support of this feeler, one curious observation that might have necessitated this probe is the claim of some examiners that the rising moral deficit and intellectual deficiencies recorded in the institutions of higher learning seem inconsistent and inversely proportional to the acclaimed successes of candidates in the UTME.
It is gratifying to know that JAMB has woken up from the shackles of mediocrity, which years of obnoxious policies and administrative indifference have placed it.
At a time when many well-meaning Nigerians have given up on our distressful tertiary educational system, the authorities seemed to have acted decisively. It was as if JAMB suddenly came to the awareness that the university, being a citadel of learning and research producing the critical, cultivated, and problem-solving think-tank of a given society, must be purged of virulent agents of civilisation.
While we commend JAMB’s initiative, our counsel is that there should be diligent, impartial and thorough probing of the entry certificates of candidates.
All forms of malpractices, in whichever part of the country they might have been perpetrated, must be subjected to serious scrutiny.
Already, no fewer than a hundred candidates of the UTME have been arrested for various examination practices nationwide, even as JAMB cancelled results in two centres in Abia State.
Besides, the probe should be transparent and must be devoid of witch-hunting. It should not be seen or even suspected as being an exercise targeted at candidates from certain parts of the country. Should that happen, it may discredit the laudable objective of quality control, and create distrust amongst Nigerian youths.
Nigerians should join hands with other stakeholders in salvaging tertiary education by supporting this new move by JAMB.
One way of carrying out this support is to report unscrupulous activities of persons and institutions that encourage cheating and other examination malpractices. It is common knowledge that many schools, institutions and even parents and guardians are accomplices in this ignoble activity.
Many of the study centres springing up in dingy and inhospitable places in town have been indicted as ‘miracle centres’ where students pass the UTME with flying colours. This is a tragedy.
In this regard, JAMB, in concert with other examination regulatory groups and law enforcement operatives should investigate and prosecute suspected schools and examination centres that have turned examination malpractices into an industry.
Where they are found culpable, diligent investigation should identify individual culprits and masterminds, and so they should be prosecuted.
Beyond the fact that this probe would serve as a deterrent, it is also necessary for personal moral purgation, corporate moral sanity and social reforms.
Our regulatory bodies should not, and cannot, afford to condone willful falsehood and mendacity because in time to come today’s cheats and forgers of certificates may end up occupying positions of trust such as judges and accountants.
When unrepentant cheats and incurable forgers occupy such positions of authority, one can imagine the kind of pestilential influence they would have on public morality.
Any society that treats cheats and forgers with kid gloves is mortgaging the future of its moral institutions and the positively progressive development of its youth. The consequences are grave.
No foreign investor would want to stop over in that society as the international community will not respect any products from there. This is a reproach we must not tolerate.