Mixed reactions on Thursday trailed the decision of the Federal Government to punish culprits of examination malpractice with a five-year jail term or N200, 000 fine or both.
It will be recalled that the approval was given by the Federal Executive Council on Wednesday for the amendment of the West African Examinations Council Act.
Mr Taiwo Taiwo, Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos branch, told NAN that it was a step in the right direction.
“I think it is a step in the right direction because the rate of cheating in examinations is becoming alarming and to that extent, it must be curbed,’’ Taiwo said.
He however advised that the law must be implemented across board and not to favour the privileged in the society.
Speaking in similar manner, another Lagos lawyer, Mr Wale Ogunade, said the implementation of the law would be difficult when the offenders were of higher social statusf.
Ogunade said cheating was being encouraged by some wealthy individuals, who had the resources to influence supervisors and purchase examination questions papers for their children. “There was a law on examination malpractice before. Has it been implemented?,” he asked.
Ogunade said the best way to tackle the menace, was to improve the welfare of teachers and provide conducive learning environment for the students.
A lawyer and public commentator, Mr Jiti Ogunye, told NAN that the amendment would not deter exam cheats.
Ogunye urged stakeholders in the education sector, to convene an emergency summit on how to proffer lasting solutions to the problem.
“It is not just a matter of criminalising the conduct and penalising the offenders. Most of the students are minors and you cannot send them to jail. The best you can do, is to send them to correctional homes,” he said.
Mr Debo Adeniran, Executive Chairman of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), a non-governmental organisation, said Nigerian students deserved proper learning environment.
“It is those who are operating special centres where children are encouraged to cheat that should be in jail. It is those who have failed to provide the necessary learning facilities in schools that should be in jail. You can’t stop examination malpractices as long as students are not being taught properly,” he said. (NAN)