On that day, all of us knew it. It was coming from one of the toughest department in Federal University of Technology Owerri- chemical engineering department. We have heard their stories. ENG 309 examination was a the tough course. Some of us read till day break. And still the questions came like a valentine gift.
On the other hand, it looked like the lecturers knew it since most of them are FUTO Alumni. Coincidentally, one of the others had a student-friend who was also sitting for the exam. Perhaps, both knew me and my academic ability. So, by his administrative insinuation, his friend was schemed to sit beside me with the remote plan of receiving some aid from me. They expected I was going to cooperate. Although, the student knew that I don’t communicate in the hall (maybe she felt I was going to bend under the influence of the lecturer). As expected, the exam was a tough one, so I tried to do justice to my paper. I tried not to notice who was sitting beside me in order to avoid distraction and give in my best. The lecturer got disappointed and changed the lady’s seat. Generally, although a lot malpractices went on in the hall, I was particularly shocked by the fact that a professor played major role in abetting such academic insincerity.
However, something happened after the examination. It seemed like I was the only one who did not communicate in that hall. I felt aloof. I felt bad. I felt lonely. I felt I was not sure of my stand. I felt I was being selfish. In fact, I felt I was doing the wrong thing. I cried. I wanted to reconsider my action. But I had to think over it first; I needed to know if it really was good or bad. But this experience took me back to the early days of my academic journey.
On that morning, I was walking with my dad (near Central School Amachalla) as we came across a pupil about my age. Dad pointed at the girl and said to me, “Look at your age mate”. The following week, I started school with my younger sister. On our first day at school, my neighbor’s children wrote the classwork for us. But the teacher in charge summoned my sister and I and told us that he knew we couldn’t have written that. He advised us to write on our own no matter how difficult or bad it seemed. This stuck in my little head, “make sure you write on your own”, and followed me always. I believe that was when the virtue was imbibed. My teacher advocated independence and originality and that for me was the first advocacy for academic originality and independence.
In my secondary school, though, we were all kids drawn from different primary schools. We showed different traits. At the time of my junior WAEC, a student was pestering me in the hall to supply her with answers but I remained adamant. My primary school teacher’s advice was still fresh in my head. To my greatest surprise, the external came to me and pleaded I should help her. She asked me a question which got me confused more than anything. “Do you want her to fail?” This became a dilemma between justice and false charity. Eventually, I did not obey the examiner but, in the end, it made me feel bad; it made me feel I was doing the wrong thing. Was I the reason for someone’s failure because I didn’t show her my papers in the hall? Was I really wrong? Could she not study hard, or was she unable to understand despite that she studied? It was tough for me to reconcile. But I kept going by my convictions.
In conclusion, all these experiences reinforced my convictions about examination malpractice especially as I grew older. There was never a time I gave in although many times I doubted my stand. Then I joined the Centre for Social Awareness, Advocacy and Ethics in 2014. From the teachings of the various resource persons such as Fr. Agbagwa on solidarity- the ripple effects of our actions and inactions opened my eyes the more on the ethics of examination and the reward for hard work. The truth is this, relying on others in the hall is a form of examination malpractice. And generally, exam malpractice favors nobody.