Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State has attributed the high rate of examination malpractice in the country to the emphasis placed on certificates and formal education.
While he agreed that acquiring certificates was a good thing, the governor insisted that people shouldÂ be judged by their abilities and skills, rather than by the paper certificates they have acquired.
The governor made the assertion at the well attended Exam Ethics Marshals Conference, which ended, weekend in Accra, Ghana, where he was also given the 2009 Exam Ethics Award for Best Practices in Education.
Akpabio, who was represented by the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Education, Dr Nsabasi Akpan, averred that examination malpractice had persisted in Nigeria because of what he described as the peculiarities of the society.
â€œWe should not ignore the fact that a student studying Architecture, and who bribes his way through and obtains his certificate, will one day cause the nation to pick up the bills of his evil ways inÂ collapsed infrastructure designed by him.
â€œYou cannot hide incompetence in the work environment. This situation breeds what has now come to be termed in Nigeria as â€˜half – baked graduates’, graduates who went through school, but whom the school did not go through,â€ he lamented.
The governor also observed that developing countries were at a crossroads today because they were lagging behind, with the gap widening between them and the developed countries.
â€œWill we ever catch up?Â The answer is that the education sector holds the key to bridging the technological gap and to sustainable democracy,â€ he said.
He explained that the quest to liberate Akwa Ibom Stateâ€™s people from poverty prompted his administration to introduce free and compulsory education in both primary and secondary schools, the first anniversary of which was celebrated recently.
He revealed that the policy had led to school enrolment quadrupling, with many child hawkers returning to school.
His words: â€œTo ensure that no fees of any kind are charged by headmasters and principals of primary and secondary schools, respectively, we pay them N100 per head for each primary school, and N300 per head for each secondary school.
â€œOur investment in education also encompasses a massive rehabilitation of all primary and secondary schools in the state. We have so far spent over N30 billion on revamping the education sector.â€
Ghanaâ€™s Education Minister admitted that efforts by his Ministry to nip the explosive nature of examination malpractice in the bud did not succeed.
But he pledged support for Exam Ethics Internationalâ€™s activities towards promoting best practices in the education sector.
He said:Â Â â€œI believe that a non – governmental organization like this, which is non – profit and non – partisan with a social responsibility, should be encouraged to correct the wrongs in our schools, societies and organizations. Government (of Ghana) will give them the needed support in carrying out their operations.â€
Impressed that the organization did not make any financial demand on Akwa Ibom State government for giving the award, Akpabio announced a donation of $50,000 â€œto enhance Exam Ethicsâ€™ fight against examination malpractice.â€