Confusing title above, isn’t it?
I apologize; I have not just started taking Greek lessons or anything. “Malpraktis” is actually not a Greek word; it is pidgin English for malpractice.
Ok let me cut to the chase; Nigeria is fast becoming a haven for all kinds of malpraktises, sorry malpractices. However, chief among this seems to be the type occurring in our schools and colleges.
In my time, the most that courageous but olodo students may attempt was the smuggling of tiny notes filled with scribbled answers into the test centre. Yes, way before Intel and Microsoft, Nigerians were manufacturing micro-chips, which were small handwritten solved answers on a tiny piece of paper only readable by the cheat himself.
The even more desperate ones went to the test centre the day before and wrote down the answers on a desk in tiny codes only legible to them. Someone I knew at university actually used this method till he graduated. He would go to the exam hall the night before, and do “till day break” scribbling down random pieces of information from the semester coursework in his native vernacular – a dying language only spoken by a village of about 230 people somewhere in the Middle Belt. That chap, I hear is now an architect and the police are looking for him now due to a series of collapsed buildings which he designed. Oh well.
The repeat offenders always amused me. There were people who carried note-books or wrote answers on their body parts and got caught in one paper, reprimanded or penalized but still tried to cheat in another exam and were discovered again.
In school, there was this girl by the name of Sola who was caught cheating in 3 consecutive exam days. The penalty then for cheating was an “F” grade and as we were in final year that meant a carry over and an extra year in school. She cheated in the first exam and was caught and penalized with an extra year, but still tried two more times! It was funny because invigilators and lecturers profiled likely cheaters and usually asked them to sit at the front desks, and monitored them specially.
The final time, she was caught, she tried to apply the code of Mission Impossible on the micro-chip. This message will self-destruct. Well she actually tried to destroy the chip by chewing it. Unfortunately the examiner’s hand was still holding on to the micro-chip for evidence. She ended up chewing his hand too. Now she was guilty of exam malpractice and attempted man-slaughter. Well, maybe she would be allowed to spend her 2 year prison term at Reddington Hospital VI, as she obviously wasn’t well.
Now the rules of the game have changed, even the players now have the bit between their teeth. I don’t want to go into the whole nine about our education system, and how universities, colleges and polytechnics need proper funding from the government; I am sure a visit to ASUU’s secretariat would suffice for the intending researcher of the above.
To each his own. Some have cheated in exams, some have even forged certificates but my loudest applause has to go to those who lie about attending a school. The University of Toronto scandal of a few years ago where a now deposed Speaker of the House of Representatives falsely claimed he attended, has now ensured that the name Toronto would now unfortunately live in infamy in Nigeria. Why on earth did he use a school like Toronto which had proper records and could verify who were legitimate alumni. If I were him, I would have claimed a school out of bounds like Zamfara Polytechnic or a dangerous university riddled with cult activity like DELSU Abaraka.
In our dear Naija, some politicians would even claim they attended Unipetrol just to be able to contest political office and make some cool millions from the public purse.
I remember when I was still in Form 5 in secondary school. My folks decided I should write GCEs just to get me academically prepared for my school SSCEs the following year. I was posted to a centre in a dilapidated secondary school somewhere near Clegg Street in Ojuelegba. On the first day I arrived there, I noticed that I was one of the smallest and youngest persons in the whole centre. Everyone there was old, muscular and tall or were re-sitting GCE for the umpteenth time. English and Mathematic papers were the biggest stumbling blocks for most repeat sitters. The school canteen also sold and served beer. Outside the centre, a woman was making brisk business selling paraga and Alamo bitters to nervy candidates about to write the Math exam. Rather than reading or going over their notes, most people stood around in groups, in a coded manner whispering and looking around suspiciously.
Then there was a huge 6 foot 6 tall chap nicknamed Apollo Creed, whose arms were thicker than my neck. I heard that they called him Apollo because his eyes were always red like he had permanent conjunctivitis, but obviously the guy smoked weed like it was prescribed by his doctor. Apollo was the first chap that I heard defend weed-smoking like it was a cause to die for. He argued that there was nothing wrong with drug use; what was dangerous was drug abuse, drug over-use or even drug refuse. Hmmm, he had a point there…Besides I couldn’t argue because he was high when he was saying this and flicking his pen-knife key holder nervously. Anything you say, boss.
Well, the most difficult paper we wrote was the Biology practical exam. Once the question paper had been distributed around, whistles of doom echoed round the hall. One girl broke down and started crying. Someone was trying to console her, saying that there were other papers to write. She broke down even more, wailing aloud with her teeth baring, as she shrieked “I wanted to read medicine, and you need to pass biology!” Not in Nigeria, you don’t, I wanted to tell her. All you need is money and connections.
When I looked at the paper, I swallowed. One of the questions required us to identify parts of a lizard. Easy, I thought to myself as I started labeling the diagram – red neck, eyes, nose, fingernail, chin…
Smiling to myself, I looked over to my right to check out the other candidates; Apollo was scratching his head like Moose in the Archie comics. It was obvious that he was staring at a paper that had overwhelmed and over-powered him. It was like asking Hanks Anuku to solve a calculus equation.
As Apollo made to turn in my direction, I quickly put my face down and acted like I was concentrating on my work. A desperate man is a danger waiting to happen.
Then the invigilator, who was overseeing the two adjacent classrooms serving as exam halls, walked in and announced that there was only 45 minutes left for the paper.
Frustrated, Apollo bolted to the front of the centre where everyone had left their bags and possessions, and yanked a huge Biology textbook from someone’s bag. Can you guys remember that very thick Biology textbook that had the picture of a long insect on the front page? Apollo took the textbook, opened it on his desk and was filling in the answers on his sheet book verbatim including the thick Latin scientific names for plants and animals. For the question about identifying the parts of a lizard, Apollo even outshined seasoned biologists. He even labeled the inside of the lizard’s body. He was unstoppable.
At that moment, the invigilator walked into the class and saw him. The invigilator was afraid of Apollo and even enlisted him to help invigilate the exam and make sure no one else cheated because the external invigilator from WAEC was around the school monitoring and inspecting the centers room by room! Apollo was now a king. He quickly finished his paper, which he was able to after copying everything from the huge textbook; and started walking around the test-room slapping and harassing people he thought were cheating.
He came up to my desk, and since he knew me, he asked me how the exam was going. I was about to answer that it was alright, when he retrieved and dropped the huge Biology textbook on my desk! His words were “Make you no worry; you fit copy from my textbook. No wahala. Nobody fit harass you.”And I am like, nah mate I have got it really. Well I didn’t say that aloud – I politely declined. Someone next to me grabbed the textbook and copied everything even the author’s name and year of publication.
I hear Apollo got an A2 in Biology later, and is a former Commissioner for Education from one of the Southern states – I am not saying which state.
He also recently got married, and the reception was held at the “Expo Hall” of Eko Hotel. How apt.
The whole malpractice situation is now so bad that a cult guy threatened a professor by warning “Oga professor, I never read but I wan pass.” Make of it what you will.
And the knock-down and multiplier effects of exam and education malpractice are there for all to see in our society today. Nigeria is producing half-baked graduates who do not do what it says on the tin. Some graduates cannot even speak proper English. They “commit” grammatical blunders mixing up their tenses and pronouns. How can someone’s pidgin English be bad too? “Make you help buy me two dozens egg crates for market?”
Back when I was doing NYSC, some corpers used to take ages to write down their names or fill a simple bio-data form, holding up a queue unnecessarily. I once even helped someone in my CD group write a job application because she didn’t know how to structure a simple letter and kept on making grammatical errors. She was applying for a teaching role; how I pray now that it was for a driving school instead. At least then she could kill herself too if she was teaching someone nonsense.
If our schools are producing “miseducated“ graduates by the truckload due to falling educational standards, corruption, the high incidence of exam malpractices and loopholes in the education system especially our tertiary institutions, then there is deep cause for concern. It is all well and good having bad graduates of the Library Science or Music Education departments as a book can be left on the wrong shelf in the library and we can stomach bad music (see Jim Iyke’s album), but surely there will be far reaching consequences if Dr. Who is poorly educated and doesn’t know all he should before he treats a patient. This is a recipe for mishap as a surgical device can be forgotten in a surgery patient’s torso.
Far-fetched? Maybe, but let me tell you a true story.
I had a bout of malaria and went to a nearby hospital/medical centre. I was ushered into the doctor’s office, and walked in to see a light skinned, slight framed man in his mid to late 30s. He looked a bit like Sam Loco to me, but it was all good. He was drinking zobo from a sachet; not so good.
After telling him the symptoms I was feeling, he asked “Do you have any medication or drugs you are allergic to or react adversely to?”
I replied “Quinine or chloroquine. Basically any drug with quinine in it.”
He probed further “Just quinine? Any other drug?”
I affirmed “None that I know of. I definitely do not take quinine.”
He scribbled on his note pad for a while, and when he looked up, he said he was prescribing some injections and drugs for me. Sweating with a fever, I nodded, stood up and made for the dispensary.
The matron nurse there looked like she was in a bad mood, and showed no mercy when pushing the needle into my backside. She was like a cheeky 8 year old with a pin in a room full of balloons.
After the injection, I took the other drugs and left.
When I got home, I started itching badly. It was like I took a bath with a huge bucket of yam and cassava water.
After 45 minutes, I couldn’t bear it any longer as I was scratching every inch of my body red with any sharp object I could find. That darn doctor must have prescribed a quinine injection for me. I was going to strangle him with his stethoscope when I get there.
I drove to the hospital like a crazed banshee, interrupting changes of gear to scratch throbbing bits of my body, including impossible places to reach like behind the knees, between my big toe and the next one, between my a…
I parked badly on the side-walk not caring about LASTMA, dashed into the hospital and barged into the doctor’s office.
The doctor looked up from his desk; he was reading Hints Magazine and munching on popcorn featuring epa.
The conversation between me and “Dr. Loco” the medical practitioner went:
“Doc, what the hell did you prescribe me? What was the injection I took…?”
“I remember telling you that I react badly to any quinine drug. I am itching violently now.”
“Ok o, sorry about that.”
Sorry? Eh, thanks but, hello I am err, still itching.
The menacing look on my face unnerved him, as I continued performing my robotic dance due to the itching.
He looked down, and started scribbling another prescription on his note-pad.
That had better be Botox or something.
I asked “What’s that you are prescribing? Is it some anti-itch medication like something to ease the itching?”
He replied very softly “Nah, I am prescribing Alagbin.”
I shouted “Ala wetin?!! I have already taken something for malaria!” Ala gbabukwe gi.
“Oh, sorry.” He looked more confused, with beads of perspiration around his face. Nepa had just taken light in the hospital and his room was now stuffy.
I was contemplating what to do next when the matron barged into the room without knocking, with a worried look on her face and her voice trembling “Doctor! Doctor! Please come quickly, the patient in Ward 13 has fallen into a coma!”
The doctor looked at me and then looked at the nurse, with a lost expression “Comma?”
When I heard that, I decided to leg it. A 7 year itch is better than a fatal case of medical malpraktis.
I ain’t go to high school/.
I went to school, high/
Sheek Louch of The Lox (Recognize, 1999)