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Result forgery threat to student future

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By Abraham Adekunle

Culture of academic dishonesty must be eradicated to avoid adverse impact.

There was a time when Lagos used to have a reputation for producing some of the most skillful forgers in Nigeria and on the continent. Headquartered at Oluwole on Lagos Island, the forgers were unbelievably skillful in the art of forging documents, including exam results and certificates. If anyone had any academic shame incoming, these were the people to consult to save the day. They could make any forged document indiscernible from the original except when it is checked with a machine created to detect such.

So, the culture of forgery did not just start in 21st-century Nigeria as the Oluwole den was age-old. In 2005 when the den was raided by a team of State Security Service operatives, policemen and officials of the EFCC, they discovered over 40,000 forged Nigerian passports, about 1,500 foreign passports (including those of Libya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Congo, the US, and more), as well as about 50,000 foreign cheques and 10,000 blank British Airways tickets. Presently, the art has gone digital.

Exam result forgery ruins the life of a nation youth.

Recently, news about one Ejikeme Mmesoma scoring 362 in the 2023 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) went viral. In an investigation conducted by Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), it was discovered that the girl had used an android app to forge her results. After investigations were conducted, the committee set up by the Anambra State Government unanimously affirmed that she confessed to forging the result to gain undue and unfair advantage over others.

What this shows, at first, is that this illegal act has been entrenched in Nigeria’s culture, starting way back in the 1900’s. Forgery is very dangerous as it can create ethical implications. The incident not only tarnishes the reputation of the individual involved but also raises questions about the integrity of the entire examination system. As a clear violation of academic ethics and integrity, it undermines the principles of fairness, honesty and meritocracy that form the foundation of a robust education. Most importantly, it eventually ruins the lives of those who indulge in such.

Dangers of result forgery to national development.

Apart from creating ethical implications, it has legal consequences. It is a criminal offense with severe repercussions. Mmesoma, for instance, was on the verge of being prosecuted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) for violating its laid-down rules. The act also diminishes self-growth. Acquiring an education exceeds being awarded a certificate; it is about growth, learning, unlearning, relearning, and acquiring valuable knowledge and skills that shape an individual’s life. So, a forger denies himself the right to experience all that. This also includes those who contract out their assignments, term papers, and projects to others to do.

More so, it creates long-term reputational damage. Forging exam results might provide a temporary advantage, but the long-term consequences are far-reaching and damaging. Educational institutions and potential employers value integrity and honesty in candidates. If they discover that someone has forged his or her results, institutions can reject associating with such a person, making it difficult to regain trust and credibility in the academic and professional spheres. Forgery undermines the integrity of the entire education system. It creates a culture of dishonesty and erodes the value of legitimate achievements. Simply put, it makes it alluring to genuine, hardworking students so that they not only have a soft spot for it but also indulge in it whenever they feel there are no other options.

How to prevent forgery and academic dishonesty.

A number of steps need to be taken to combat this menace and promote ethical practice in the sector. Firstly, security measures need to be strengthened. To combat forgery, educational authorities must adopt robust security measures for exam processes, result management, and verification procedures. These may include advanced technology, biometric identification, secure databases, and regular audits to ensure the authenticity and integrity of results. Another preventive action is raising awareness about it. This should be done by schools, parents and society as a whole. By promoting a culture of honesty, integrity, and fair competition, students can better understand the value of their own achievements. Finally, there should be avenues for counseling and mentorship for students to help them navigate the challenges of academic pressure.

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