The Enugu State Commissioner for Education, Professor Uchenna Eze, recently disclosed that 18 school principals had been removed from the state’s civil service for alleged examination malpractices. The principals were alleged to have connived with students to cheat at a public examination held in the state recently. Claiming that examination malpractices do no good to students or communities, the commissioner said nobody would be happy seeing secondary schools graduates being unable to write a letter or graduates of tertiary institutions being unable to write an application for a job.
There can be no doubt about the veracity of the commissioner’s claims regarding examination malpractices. The alleged connivance by the now-dismissed school principals is utterly shameful and indefensible. However, the Enugu State Ministry of Education should find out what made 18 school principals, at the risk of their careers, to decide to connive with students to commit examination malpractices. Was there a prize attached to their performance in the said public examination? The decision to sack the erring principals cannot be faulted, even if making public schools to deliver on qualitative education requires more than sacking conniving school principals.
The state should prosecute the dismissed principals to serve as a deterrent to those left in its employ. Secondly, the state should put facilities in place to enhance the delivery of qualitative tuition in its secondary schools. It should employ well-trained teachers and provide up-to-date equipment so that its secondary schools can be of global standard. If the authorities in Enugu State and other states are truly agitated by the need for qualitative education for the people, they should start from the provision of the requisite facilities before arriving at punitive measures for erring students, teachers and principals.
Although the decision to sack the errant principals cannot be faulted, we are persuaded that the state government should also share in the blame. Examination malpractices are partly caused by the lack of confidence in the tuition received in schools and the principals knowing full well that the quality of teaching could not be trusted might have inadvertently resorted to giving the students ample opportunity to cheat. Experts believe that the foundation laid for students at the basic primary and secondary levels go a long way in determining their intellectual potentials in life. It is therefore imperative for the society to ensure that the foundation is not compromised in terms of quality. It is believed that the fight against poverty can be won through education, but the kind of education that will liberate the people from the clutches of poverty must be sound, wholesome and thorough.
The Enugu State government should not be satisfied with the mere removal of the erring principals from its payroll. It should go further to treat the roots of examination malpractices. The government should be more committed to improving the quality of education by improving the quality of teachers through training and encouragement. At the national level, the inspectorate divisions of the Ministry of Education in all the states of the federation must be revitalised. There should be experienced teachers to execute comprehensive supervision of the schools’ implementation of the approved scheme of work. It is only after these states have fulfilled all righteousness in terms of improving the quality of education that they can rightly repudiate examination malpractices. Anything short of that would be hypocritical.