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Background of the Study

Examination malpractice is one of the school related problems that has drawn the attention of successive Governments in Nigeria. It has assumed a widespread and alarming rate over the past two decades in Nigeria. It is practiced at all levels of the education sector. This could be attributed to the total neglect of guidance and counselling services in the school system especially at the secondary school level. The importance of guidance and counselling in the present dispensation where everything is moving at a jet speed and where there is total disregard for societal norms can not be over emphasized. Despite the importance attached to this essential service as enunciated by the Federal Government of Nigeria (2004) in its National Policy on Education, most schools have no school counsellors. Even where they have, the counsellors are not given their rightful place. Most principals see them as rivals rather than as co-workers and colleagues. They refuse to approve any counselling  programme such as counselling services that the counsellor wants to introduce. The utter neglect of guidance and counselling services in the secondary schools   has led to a lot of vices such as students’ unrest, indiscipline, cultism and examination malpractice which has bedeviled the education system. It is the contention of some scholars like Obagah and Wokocha (1999) that these vices mentioned above would not have risen to the level they have reached if there were good counselling programmes in the various schools.  One of these vices that have reached an advanced stage in the society and which has become a thing of concern for all meaningful citizens of this great country is examination malpractice..

According to Michael (2001), citing the Encyclopedia Britannica examination is:

The assessment of a person’s performance when confronted with a series of questions, problems or task set for him in order to ascertain the amount of knowledge that he has acquired, extent to which he is able to utilize it or the quality and effectiveness of the skills he had developed.(p.314)


According to Stanley & Hopkins cited in Benson (2004) there was an elaborate system of Civil Service examinations in China several centuries before Christ to select and recruit staff into its civil service. According to him oral questioning dates back to the beginnings of human language. Also, that the Socratic method of instruction involves the skillful interspersing of instruction with oral testing.  They further stated that the first form of examination in formalized school setting was oral recitation or disputation. It was used by the greater Universities of Medieval Europe, whereby the students were examined at the end of their courses by means of debate. By the year 120 A.D., the University of Bologna, used this method to examine their doctoral students while in 599 A.D, the Jesuits had introduced written examination into their school system with well formulated rules and regulations governing its conduct.


Examination is one of the important instruments that every teacher uses to determine the rate and the extent to which the learner has achieved the desired instructional objectives, (Inemodi, 1995). Besides, it is used to measure the effectiveness of teaching strategies. Consequently, examination is used to determine whether a learner is ready for the next stage in an academic programme. The information it provides serves as a basis for the award of certificates as well as selection for specific jobs or assignments. Examination today is part and parcel of the school system. Its basic role includes the following: generating psychometric properties, for certification, prediction, motivation and research purposes. It is the desire of every examinee to pass his or her examination but good performance must be based on honesty and in conformity with the rules and regulations of such examination. Anything to the contrary violates or negates the credibility, validity and the reliability of the examination (Inemodi, 1995). Unfortunately, the average Nigerian student today is so desperate to pass his/her examination that the rules and regulation governing such examinations are never adhered to, giving room to the issue of examination malpractice which is common in the school system today.


Examination malpractice has made it difficult to carry out effective career counselling. This is as a result of the fact that the individual student’s result that could have served, as a guide for proper career counselling is not reliable. Examination malpractice has distorted the test and item qualities and a person’s scores and has rendered such scores meaningless in absolute or relative sense. Since inference about an examinee’s ability according to Nenty (1988) in a given subject area is made based on his/her performance on a number of items sampled to represent that area, examination malpractice makes such inference invalid. Besides, examination malpractice has led to cancellation of results, withholding of candidates’ results, expulsion from school, revocation of certificate and results, de-recognition of centres, termination of appointment or dismissal from service etc. It has also led to mass production of half-baked students who in turn have become nuisance in the society.


Beregha (1988) pointed out that examination malpractice has lowered the predictive validity of the product of education in Nigeria in general and Bayelsa State in particular. It has also reduced the faith of the society on examination as that which provides a guarantee of competence on those examined, to perform task demanded of them by professions or jobs, which they eventually take up after school. Furthermore, it has maimed the ability of the society to identify and develop the potential of most youths in Nigeria. It has equally brought untold hardship and frustration to parents and honest students. Most importantly, it has affected in no small extent, the attitude of students to study and even among the honest ones, it has eroded students’ confidence in and dependence on hard work as a means to success.


Examination malpractice is fast becoming a global menace that is ravaging the education sector. According to Nenty (1988) in ancient China individualized examination system was practiced and despite thorough checking before examination and death penalty for any culprit, people still cheated. Examination malpractice is fast becoming a global menace that is ravaging the education sector. For instance, Ghana, which seemed to be one of the few countries that have a sound educational system, is also experiencing cases of examination malpractice. According to Adomako (2005)

The recent spree of examination leakages at the University of Ghana and that of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology has awakened the questioning minds of many Ghanaians about the caliber of graduates coming out from their public universities. (p.3)


Inemodi (1995) stated that in Nigeria, in general, and Bayelsa state in particular, examination malpractice has become the rule rather than exception. According to him, examination malpractice is among the school related problems that has drawn the attention of successive governments in Nigeria. He further stated that the phenomenon has assumed a widespread and alarming rate over the past two decades in Nigeria. It is practiced at all levels of the education system with some teachers, principals and some officers from both examining bodies and Ministry officials becoming accomplices. Examination malpractice has consistently remained a bane of Nigerian education system. According to Nuraini (2010), most foreigners say that the academic certificates being issued to graduates in Nigeria are no more valuable than the pieces of paper on which they are printed.


Lamenting over the ugly situation Nwabuisi (2000) stated that;

Post-expo 1970s education in Nigeria has been fraught with problems. Examination malpractice has become so endemic that Nigerian students do not see anything wrong with it. Both external and internal examinations from primary education through secondary to tertiary education are riddled with chronic examination malpractice. The introduction of the Continuous Assessment in the school system which ordinarily was meant to check the trend has even worsened the situation.(p.122)


Nwabuisi (2000) further explained that, most teachers assessed students in works they did not teach, awarded marks to students on tests that were not conducted, inflated the marks awarded to students. Examination malpractice since 1996 has worsened over the years. Despite the importance attached to examination in schools and the society at large, especially higher institutions and the stringent rules and regulations, examination malpractice is still very prevalent. This has been a major concern to all well meaning citizens of this great country. Also Ibrahim (2006) commenting on the situation opined that;

The menace of examination malpractice has no doubt become a major concern not only to the governments but all stakeholders, including the parents who could purchase everything for their children, including question and answer papers to make sure that their wards excel in national examinations, the parents have on their own put the blame on the door step of teachers and school authorities.(p.15)


According to Wariowei (1999) the educational sector in Nigeria is one area in which moral decadence has permeated very deeply. According to him, there are enough evidences to prove the low level of credibility in the education sector. Some of these are dishonesty, treachery, indiscipline, cheating, rebellions, aggressions, forgery etc. He further lamented that teachers who are the foremost practitioners of the teaching profession, the onus on whom the quality of educational products depends, are also guilty of this offence. He maintained that examination malpractice has gradually formed an immovable nimbus cloud on the horizon of our education system. Apart from some of the teachers and the principals who have seen examination period as an avenue of amassing illegal wealth by collecting unauthorised levies from these students, and getting themselves involved in examination malpractice the parents are not left out. Some parents escort their children and wards to examination centres to cheat in the examinations with the collaboration of some supervisors, while some parents either hire mercenaries to write the examination for their children or write these examinations personally for their children in either the examination hall or in the staff room.

One of the driving force behind examination malpractice is the fact that education is seen as the key to employment, or as a means of earning a living. This has led to the crazy quest to acquire the much needed certificates by all means as employers of labour place emphasis on certificate especially that of the university, before one can be given any reasonable position in any establishment (Badejo & Gandonu, 2001). This explains why the problem of examination malpractice has continued unabated over the years despite stringent measures taken by government to address the issue.




According to Benjamin (1997), examination malpractice has been identified as a veritable threat to educational standards and the quality of learning in the Nigerian educational system. Examination malpractice can never be justified and so remains a condemnable cankerworm eating unrepentantly deep into the fabrics of our educational system. It is necessary that solutions be found at stamping it out completely or eradicating instances where it can occur. It is a cankerworm that is endemic in the nation’s educational system. Examination malpractice also occur both in internal and external examinations in primary and secondary schools as well as in all disciplines. The examination malpractice that occurs in public examinations is a sign of the decay in the educational system in the country.


According to Michael (2001), examination malpractice became so widespread by 1967 that the Federal Government had to set up a special commission of inquiry known as the Alexander Commission to identify among other things, the sources of examination leakages and make recommendations to combat future occurrences. The recommendation of the commission led, among other things, to the promulgation of a decree illegalizing any unethical behavior during the West African Certificate Examination. The recommendation of the Alexander Commission according to Michael (2001) did not deter the perpetrators of this act at all. For instance, in 1977 during the West African school Certificate Examination, there was widespread examination leakages throughout the country, which led to the setting up of the Sogbetum Commission of inquiry. The recommendation and the subsequent decree that was promulgated as a result of this were all flouted by the accomplices.



Michael (2001) further stated that in 1984, the Federal Government in a bid to stamp out examination malpractice promulgated decree 20. This decree prescribed a stiff penalty of twenty-one (21) years imprisonment for any defaulter. Despite this stiff penalty, examination malpractice still continues in our educational institution unabated. Examination malpractice tends to persist even under the severest punishment.  Again, Asuru (1997) stated that examination malpractice has become a complex and multidimensional issue with increasing perpetrators daily devising shameful and sophisticated methods.  It has assumed a cancerous dimension, eating fast and deep into all fabrics of our education system. The rate at which some principals, invigilators, supervisors, West African Examination Council (WAEC) officials and other school officers are engaging in examination malpractice to enable students cheat in examination has reached a stage where if nothing is done to abate it, it could erode not only our educational endeavour but our national values.


Despite all these measures taken by the Federal Government to curb examination malpractice the issue still remains the same. According to Obagah & Wokocha (1999), the existing breakdown of law and frustration which has led to the naked day light killing of innocent students and lecturers in the name of cultism, examination malpractice, armed robbery and hired assassins can only be checked by the professional services of guidance counselling experts permanently stationed in the schools. Consequently, the importance of guidance and counselling services in the schools to  offer preventive counselling to curb these atrocities especially examination malpractice cannot be over emphasized. It is on record that many researches have been carried out on likely causes of examination malpractice and solutions have been proffered; yet the situation remains the same. The Federal Government’s efforts to stamp it out have also proved abortive. Perhaps these solutions proffered may not be the right solutions to the problem. The problem of examination malpractice is all about the students’ perception and their attitudes towards examination. So the solution to this problem is with the students. It is on this note that the researcher has presented two therapies that have been very effective in addressing psychological problems like stress; anxiety and undesirable behaviours. These are the Behavioural Therapy (BT) and the Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT).


The behavioural therapy is an effective intervention programme often used by psychologists to address a variety of psychological problems such as undesirable behaviours. Behaviour therapy is a programme designed to replace undesirable behaviour pattern with new ones, (New Webster Dictionary, 2000).

According to Alao (1987), the principles of behavioural therapy states that the human being is controlled by the social environment built over the years. This implies that the human being is not the determiner of his/her behaviour. It is the environment that controls, shapes and determines his/her behaviour. Michael (2001) citing Durkheim also stated that every society has a controlled value system which constrains and conditions the actions of people. The controlled value system is the totality of beliefs and sentiments common to every citizen of the same society. He further stated that society has a pattern of thinking, feeling and acting which exerts powerful pressure on man to behave the way he does. The main focus in behavioural counseling therapy intervention is guiding and directing how the client’s behaviour is to be changed by modifying stimuli in his environment. Though intervention programme using the behavioural therapy has been found to be effective in dealing with individuals that experience fear or other behavioural disorder, much has not been done on its effectiveness in curbing examination malpractice in the school system. Consequently, this study sought to determine the effectiveness of the behavioural therapy in eradicating the incidences of examination malpractice in the school system in Bayelsa State.


The rational emotive behaviour therapy is also an effective intervention for a wide variety of psychological problems like stress, anxiety, depression etc; Nwachuku (2007). Principles of rational emotive therapy suggest that wrong attitude to life in general is caused by irrational or distorted thoughts about the stimuli giving rise to wrong approach to life, situation and events. This means that, it is not the stimulus itself, which some how elicits an emotional response, but our evaluation of our thought about the stimulus. It is an approach that recognizes the inter relationship between our behaviour, emotion and physiology as they interact within a given environmental context. The main focus in rational emotive therapy intervention is on identifying, evaluating and changing dysfunctional patterns of thinking and relevant underlying beliefs that are causing and maintaining the problems. Learning to change such irrational thinking and the relevant underlying beliefs can lead to lasting improvement in the emotional reaction, self esteem, and attitude to life, relationships and other areas of life. Though intervention using the rational emotive therapy has been found to be effective in dealing with individuals that experience psychological problems such as stress, anxiety etc, much has not been done on its effectiveness in curbing examination malpractice. Hence this study sought to determine the effectiveness of rational emotive behaviour therapy in reducing the rate of examination malpractice in the school systems in Bayelsa State.



Another variable of investigation in this study is location. By location I mean the area where the schools are situated. These are classified into two. Namely: urban and rural areas Examination malpractice seems to strive in some places than the other. For instance it is the view of Michael (2001), that due to the peculiarity of the rural setting, especially the difficult terrain, which makes it difficult for examination officials to be at the schools on time, examination malpractice seems to be more rampant in the rural areas than the urban areas. This, according to him, accounts for the geometrical increase of enrolment in national examination in the rural areas, because most students from the urban schools go to the schools in the rural areas to register for their national examination. The only reason one can give is that they feel that the rural area is safer for them to cheat. Consequently, this study sought to determine the influence of location on students’ tendencies to engage in examination malpractice.


Lastly, another variable of investigation in this study is that of gender. Gender as is used in this study refers to masculine or feminine classification. Researchers like Badejo & Gandonu (2001); Bisong, Akpama & Edet (2009) hold the view that examination malpractice is not a function of gender. However, the question one may like to ask is:

Does gender have influence on students’ tendencies to engage in examination malpractice in Bayelsa State? Consequently, the study sought to determine the influence of gender on students’ tendencies to engage in examination malpractice in Bayelsa state.


Statement of the Problem

In Nigeria, examination malpractice has become a national embarrassment. Examination malpractice is practiced at all levels of the educational system. According to Ibrahim (2006) the menace of examination malpractice has no doubt become a major concern not only to the government but to all stakeholders. Every year, there are reported cases of examination malpractice in the nation’s examinations with some principals, teachers and some officials, from both the examining bodies and ministries of education becoming accomplices. Inemodi (1995) observed that some parents have also involved themselves in examination malpractices by purchasing life question papers to make sure that their wards excel in national examinations. Some literate parents even write the examination for their children and wards with the collaboration of some supervisors. Some of the communities where these examination centres are cited are not left out. Some of these communities do influence the supervisors and the officials that come to monitor these examinations with money. Apart  from the money, while the examination is on, both supervisor and the official monitoring the examination are being entertained in the chief’s palace, leaving the principal and the teachers to carry on the ugly deal. In some cases, these officials and supervisors are presented with beautiful ladies that keep them company while the examination is in progress. This, according to him, is so because educational institutions in most rural communities are the only vent which projects the community’s image outside. The success of the school is seen as the success of the community. These communities measure the success of the school in terms of the number of passes in external examinations.


The Federal Government in a bid to address the issue of examination malpractice has taken some measures. For instance, in 1967 and 1977 two commissions of inquires, namely; the Alexander commission and the Sogbetum commission of inquiries respectively were set up. Unfortunately, the recommendations and subsequent decrees that were promulgated were all flouted by the accomplices. Also in 1984, the Federal Government promulgated Decree 20 which has a stiff penalty of twenty one (21) years imprisonment for any defaulter. Despite this, examination malpractice still continues in our educational institutions unabated.


Many studies in Nigeria have been carried out about examination malpractice: Asuru, (1994). Examination malpractice: Nature, causes and solutions: Benson (2004). Factors that influence students’ tendency to cheat in examination in secondary schools in Bayelsa State and solutions have been proffered by these researchers such as adequate provision of facilities, libraries, better condition of service for teachers, provision of textbooks for students by the parents and re-introduction of the boarding system yet the issue is unresolved. The Federal Government on its own has equally tried to check this ugly trend (examination malpractice) in the school system by setting up various commissions and even promulgating decrees but to no avail. In order to address this perennial problem of examination malpractice in our secondary schools, two intervention programmes that have shown to be very effective in handling variety of abnormal behaviour such as the treatment of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), erectile failure, adult victims of childhood sexual abuse, stress, anxiety etc. are used in this study. These intervention programmes are: the Behaviour and Rational Emotive Behaviour therapies. Much research work has not been carried out on their effects on secondary school students’ tendency to engage in examination malpractice in our secondary schools hence the application of these therapies in this study. The problem of this study is; what is the effect of the behaviour and rational emotive behaviour therapies in curbing examination malpractice among secondary school students in Bayelsa state?





Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study was to examine the effects of behavioural and rational emotive therapies on secondary school students’ tendencies to engage in examination malpractice in Bayelsa state of Nigeria. Specifically, the study sought to determine:


  • The effects of behavioural therapy on secondary school students’ tendencies to engage in examination malpractices.
  • The effects of rational emotive behaviour therapy on secondary school students’ tendencies to engage in examination malpractices.
  • The influence of gender on secondary school students’ tendencies to engage in examination malpractices when exposed to behaviour and rational emotive behaviour therapies.
  • The influence of location on secondary school students’ tendencies to engage in examination malpractices when exposed to behaviour and rational emotive behaviour therapies.


Significance of the Study

This study will provide useful information to the Government, teachers, parents, counsellors and students alike. The findings of this study will direct the Government’s attention to the area of employment of qualified guidance counsellors in all the schools, who will be organizing intervention programmes using both the rational emotive and behavioural therapies. This will drastically reduce the students’ tendencies to engage in examination malpractice and cheating. It will also propel the Government to employ enough qualified and dedicated teachers into all the schools. When there are enough qualified and dedicated teachers in a school, the laxity found among students will be addressed because they will always be occupied with one assignment or the other and this will reduced the students’ dependency on others to pass their examination.  The findings of this study will enlighten government’s effort in the area of school supervision and inspection. When there is proper supervision of schools teachers will be up and doing rather than wasting the students’ precious time. In the same vein, the students too will be serious with their studies and this will reduce their tendencies to engage in examination malpractice.


Again, it will help the Government to organize enlightenment programmes for teachers and staff charged with the responsibility of handling the examination at different stages so that they will not get involved in examination malpractice. It will also direct Government’s attention to the areas of improvement of the condition of service for teachers. When teachers are properly motivated, they are bound to carry on their duties effectively rather than looking for ways to exploit students during examination. This will also reduce cases of examination malpractice in the schools. Also the findings of this study will make parents to realize that success in examination is possible if only their children and wards sit up to study their books. Consequently, the parents will do everything possible to encourage their children and wards to study hard. To achieve this, parents will try to curtail the numbers of hours their children and wards spend playing video games, watching television programmes and encourage them rather to spend much of their time in their study which is the panacea for examination malpractice.  Also the findings of this study will enlighten parents on the importance to allowing their children and wards to make their own choice of subjects to offer in the national examination while the parents will only guide them. The findings of this study will make parents to seek expert help from guidance counsellors and educational psychologists to help children with learning problems. Most students that engage in examination malpractice do so because they have learning problem. If this is properl

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