The aim of the study was to analyse the causes and effects of Examination Malpractice , Drug Abuse And Cultism on educational standards, the moral character of those involved and socio-economic performance from an ethical perspective. The research revealed that Examination Malpractice , Drug Abuse And Cultism were a big problem in Nigerian institutions as they tended to virtually destroy the moral integrity of the persons involved. This results in a society with a corrupt and incompetent future workforce. By distorting the very essence of education, society tended to be more at a loss than a gain in terms of socio-economic performance because, most often, the certificates achieved did not reflect the actual capabilities of the holder. Recommendations in tackling Examination Malpractice , Drug Abuse And Cultism therefore call for measures such as the government working with the communities and policy makers to raise public awareness on the importance of the integrity of the examination system, inclusion of morality as a subject at various stages of the curriculum, adequately equipping all public schools with relevant learning/teaching materials and the government putting in an incentive structure for lecturers and others involved in the handling of examinations.



Background to study

Education is an important instrument that can be used to objectively evaluate and assess students’ learning outcomes and ability to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of different concepts or ideas. Actions and practices that undermine the integrity of the examination process, therefore, pose a serious threat to the quality and credibility of the students’ learning outcomes. Examination malpractices are an example of such actions that threaten the integrity of examinations, and/or damage the authority of those responsible for conducting them. Examination malpractices are also a threat to the validity and reliability of the educational system. They are harmful not only to the moral development, but also the intellectual development of learners. Examination malpractices are a serious and growing problem in Zambia. They have become widespread so that there is virtually no examination without incidences of malpractice (Chileshe, 2010).  

There are various types of social problem peculiar to educational institution. Kornblum and Julian (1995:3) see a social problem as any condition that exists to threaten the quality of people’s lives and the most cherished values of a people, who also agree that something should be done to remedy that condition. A social problem according to Horton, Leslie and Larsons (1991:2), is a condition affecting a significant number of people in society in ways considered undesirable, about which it is felt something should be done through collective or social action.

Lauer (2002:4) on his part, draws a distinction between social problem and a personal problem.  A personal problem according to him is one whose causes and solutions lie within the individual and the individual’s immediate environment, while a social problem is one whose causes and solutions lie outside the individual and the immediate environment.

Mills (1980:14-15) made a similar distinction, calling personal problems as “personal troubles of milieu” and social problem as the public issues of social structure.  For Nwabueze (1992:1) social problems are some kind of strains within the system.  He defines social problem as the product of certain objective conditions within the society that are inimical to the realization of other norms and values for members of society. Merton and Nisbet (1966:785) distinguished social problems from other problems by their linkage with institutional and normative context.  Social problems according to them pertain to human relationships.  Problems assume a social dimension when they affect relationships among people and disturb the social order. Aderinto (2002:337) provided a rather more inclusive or comprehensive definition when he asserts that a social problem exists when a significant number of people, or a number of significant people in society perceive an undesirable difference between social ideals and social realities, and believe that this difference can be eliminated by collective or social action. Such problems are distinctively those that concern the rules of relationship, formal and informal which the people of a society establish among themselves. In other words, social problems affect rules of human relationship therefore hampers and disturbs the social order of the society.

What is important in all these definitions is that the majority or a significant number of society’s population perceive a certain social condition as undesirable and inimical to normal social life, in short, a malfunctioning of an essentially stable and conflict free society and there is also a willingness or longing for the ‘abnormal’ social condition to be ameliorated to ensure that most of the people adversely affected are helped at public expense to get over it.  Emphasis is placed on society recognizing a condition as problematic and then acting through the government for its solution.

An examination malpractice is defined as deliberate wrong doing contrary to official examination rules. It places a candidate at an unfair advantage or disadvantage. Factually, it is any illegal act committed by a student single-handedly or in collaboration with others, like fellow pupils, parents, lecturers, supervisors or invigilators; before, during or after an examination in order to obtain underserved marks or grades. It is any illegal behaviour exhibited by a candidate or anybody charged with the conduct of examinations before, during or after examinations that contravenes the rules and regulations governing the conduct of such examinations (Lambert, 2003).

Tertiary education institutions include Universities, polytechnics and lecturers training colleges. They have been known to provide the social atmosphere which allows students, administrators and academics alike to enjoy peaceful co-existence and excellence in education. In the case of students, the existence of and participation in clubs and organizations on campuses ensure that they become well rounded and well adjusted individuals at the conclusion of their course of study. This scenario applied to institutions of higher learning in Sierra Leone until two decades ago when cultism reared its ugly head on campuses.

In defining cultism, Azelama, Alude and Imhonda (2004) noted that “cult is an assemblage of people united by certain ideals, or symbols and whose rites and ceremonies of veneration are unique and shrouded in mysteries with a secrecy that cannot be broken” (p.1).  Maxey (2004) traces the meaning of cult from the Latin word ‘cultus’ which means ‘to worship or give reverence to a deity’ (p.2). Thus, in its original usage, it was simply applied to a religious worshipful group of people regardless of the object or person they venerated.