Maintaining academic standards in schools

Over the years, the nation’s educational system has come under focus in terms of maintaining, promoting, and protecting academic standards. This effort is given the desired attention because any educational institution that is bereft of necessary standards and quality can be said to have outlived its usefulness. This is the bone of contention of discussants while reviewing the state of education in Nigeria. The licensing of several universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education across the country without adequate taking into consideration the relevant infrastructure has been identified as one of the issues to address.

This point forms one of the salient points raised while the authorities of the National Universities Commission (NUC) were charged to, as a matter of urgency; wake up to its responsibility and prevent further proliferation of universities in the country. This call is coming against the backdrop of new operational licences granted to 20 new private universities in the country. This piece of advice was given by Dr. Sola Adeosun of the Department of Mass Communication, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, Ogun State while fielding questions on the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State radio station, FUNAAB Radio 89.5FM live interactive programme, Boiling Point.

According to him, the population in the country was increasing, hence the need for more tertiary institutions. Dr. Adeosun, however, cautioned that quality and standards should not be compromised in an attempt to provide education for the people. He argued that some proprietors of universities are not qualified to occupy such positions “Because they don’t have the knowledge and the procedures they use to give approval to these institutions”. He added that “If the desire is to increase the number of universities in Nigeria so that we can cater for those that usually need admission, there is nothing wrong, but how we are going about it is the issue as to whether we are actually doing it right or wrong”.

Dr. Adeosun reiterated that funding had continued to be a major challenge militating against the operations of private institutions in the country, urging their proprietors to practice merger and acquisition in order to avoid bankruptcy that would do nobody any good while decrying placing too much emphasis on paper certificates at the expense of real and practical knowledge. He further said, “I pray that what happened in the oil sector, where all the refineries were grounded for private individuals with a selfish interest to come in is not allowed to happen to the nation’s education sector”. Apart from the proliferation of universities, two professors of FUNAAB have been called upon for the establishment of an Examination Malpractice Commission (EMC) towards curbing the menace of examination malpractice in Nigerian schools.

The dons, which made the call while featuring on the same radio station, include Prof. Adebola Osipitan of the Department of Crop Protection, College of Plant Science and Crop Production (COLPLANT), who argued that government policies on examination malpractice had not been effective over the years. He said the menace of examination malpractice affects virtually all sectors of the economy, stressing that all hands must be on deck to curtail the problem, urging students to spend more time to prepare adequately for examinations. Prof. Osipitan noted that “Educational crimes are more damaging than financial crime” while calling on stakeholders to assist in the development of the nation. On his part, Prof. Olufemi Onifade of the Department of Pasture and Range Management, College of Animal Science and Livestock Production (COLANIM) described examination malpractice as the deliberate wrongdoing of official examination rules meant to put a child at an undue advantage.

He maintained that parents, teachers, students, and the government all have their parts to play in ending it. Prof. Onifade stressed that some students’ lackadaisical attitude towards their studies and the inability of the government to adequately provide facilities and infrastructure were some of the causes of examination malpractice. He solicited for regular review of the education curricula, and also called on non-governmental organisations, to contribute their own quota by re-orientating Nigerians in a bid to discourage laziness, fraud, and corruption in society. A few weeks ago, stakeholders had looked at how to tackle examination malpractice in the Nigerian educational system and justified the need to work together to either reduce or permanently get rid of the menace.

The call was made at a workshop held in Abeokuta, where Prof. Olufemi Onifade of FUNAAB identified important education stakeholders to include examination bodies, parents, teachers, students, government, non-governmental organisations, and religious and traditional leaders. In his presentation, Prof. Ademola Osipitan, also of the same institution, described examination malpractice as a war that must be fought by everyone. He called on the government to establish a special commission to fight examination malpractice and misconduct in schools. Prof. Osipitan argued that examination malpractice was more damaging than corruption in economic terms. A major takeaway from the above discourse is simply that maintaining academic standards in schools is a collective, planned, and sustained effort that should be pursued with much vigour and seriousness.

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