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Publication: Gender & Behaviour
Date published:
Language: English
PMID: 93409
ISSN: 15969231
Journal code: GNBV


Examination malpractices, which is perennial problem in our education system is of interest to educators, researchers and the general public alike. This interest stems from the fact that academic integrity is a desirable characteristic which students and the entire populace should strive to emulate. Some research work that had been done reported the motives that gave rise to the behaviour but this study tries to look at the impact of style of parenting, the gender of person involved and the influence of religiousity on the attitude of students towards examination malpractices.

Evidences abound of increasing incidents of examination malpractices by students at schools and colleges; which conflict with the core purpose of education; that is, the training of the mind and character for the acquisition of practical and theoretical skills, knowledge and functional ideas for development and the search for truth and knowledge, the creation and communication of ideas.

In Nigeria, the first publicly reported cases of examination malpractices occurred in 1914 when there was leakage of question papers in the Senior Cambridge Local Examination. Ever since, there have been cases of irregularities reported on a yearly basis (West African Examination Council, 2004). The major forms of malpractices reported are: impersonation, bringing in foreign materials (books, calculator and texting messages on mobile phones); substituting worked scripts, stealing, collusion in the examination hall (copying one another), mass/ organized cheating involving assistances from teachers /lecturers and outsiders, and insult/ assault on invigilators (Oluyeba and Daramola, 2000). This trend of examination malpractices is inimical to academic development and advancement which needs to be drastically addressed.

The vanguard Newspaper, March 4, 2004 defines examination malpractices as any act of omission or commission which compromises the reliability of any assessment or evaluation system. Ikupa, (1997) also defines it as an illegal or unethical behavior by somebody in the process of testing an examinee's ability or knowledge by means of question.

Examination malpractices as a form of corruption and corrupt practices have crept into the fabric of all levels of the educational sector in the country. Various attempts have been made by expert to define it from various perspectives but for this research, it will be define as a "corrupt practice". Examination malpractices as a form of corruption may mean actions that are not permitted by the examining bodies, yet people indulge in them, in order to make them pass the examination. This was supported by Olayinka (1999) that examination malpractices are a "misconduct or improper practices in any examination with a view to obtaining good results through fraudulent action". Moreover, examination malpractices have also been seen as an irregular behaviour exhibited by candidates or anybody charged with the conduct of examination hall before, during or after such examination.

The problem of examination malpratices in Nigeria seems to be as old as the introduction of formal system of education. In the first incidence of examination malpractices (1914), attracted the attention of the Federal Government which led to the promulgation of Decree 27 of 1973 and miscellaneous decree of 1984 to curb examination malpractices and the latter decree prescribed 21 years jail term for offenders. These and other measures put in place still do not deter people from engaging in examination malpractices.

Investigations conducted by the National Concord of Tuesday June, 1998 revealed how teachers help students to engage in examination malpractices by coaching them before examination and the changing of incorrect answers afterwards. This trend according to the report is being used by the school involved to improve their position in the performance table, which becomes a key indicator for parents choosing a school for their children.

In view of the adverse effect that examination malpractices have on the education system, it becomes necessary to critically examine it. At what stage do examination malpractices occur? What are the impacts of parenting style on cheating attitude? Does religion has anything to do with curbing examination malpractices and does gender has any influence on the attitude of students towards examination malpractices? In the educational system, it makes it impossible to use the result of tests and examination to determine the level of skills and competence of candidates. Unfortunately, it has become a national disaster. It is no longer news to hear examination bodies cancel thousands of result due to one form of cheating or the other.

Alarape and Onakoya (2003) see cheating as a pervasive problem in education and extend to which students engage in the act has greatly increased. When students learn in environments where there is too much stress, corruption and unhealthy rivalry, some may begin to see cheating as a means of survival in such contexts.

The factors that are responsible for the poor quality of education in the tertiary sector according to Oni (2000) can be grouped into internal and external factors. The internal factors include strikes, students' unrest, lack of good leadership, lack of employee motivation on the part of our political leaders, inconsistent or improper funding efforts by government and admission based on quotas rather than merit.

Examination malpractices can take the form of crib notes, looking over someone's shoulder during an exam. Many elaborate methods of cheating have been developed, over the years. For example, students now store information in graphing calculators, pages, cell phones and other electronic devices have cropped up since the information revolution began and many other fraudulent devices that students employ just to pass examinations. Some even go to the extent of paying certain amount demanded by the lecturer for them to pass such course(s). Ladies do not see anything bad in releasing their bodies to male lecturers; in fact, they would be the one to tell such lecturers that they are ready to do anything he demands from them as long as he is ready to make them pass his exam. Although the students have the largest contribution but some other factors like parenting style also matters. This has to do with the upbringing of a child. Parents, who taught their children good qualities like hardwork, integrity, honesty e.t.c. and lived as good examples to their wards will, likely bring forth children of the sort. But parents that help their children to cheat like registering them in so called, miracle centres, paying for somebody to assist their children to write exams, buying question papers and even go as far as paying WAEC or JAMB personnels in order to have good results are not good models even if they are preaching all these aforementioned qualities, the children will not listen, they are more fascinated to the action than to their preaching.

Baumrind (1978) gave the description of parenting styles. These are authoritative, authoritarian, permissive and neglectful. Parenting style is a psychological construct representing standard strategies parents use in raising their children.

Authoritative parents raise children who are successful, articulate, happy with themselves and generous to others. These children are usually liked by teaching and peers especially in cultures where individual initiative is valued. This is the most commonly used in the word today. Authoritative parenting is characterized by high expectations of compliance to parental rules and directions, an open dialogue about those rules and behaviors and a child centered approach. Authoritative parents, unlike authoritarian parents, encourage the child to be independent. Authoritative parents are not usually controlling but allowing the child to explore freely. Authoritative parents set limits, demand maturity, but when punishing a child, the parents always explain his or her reason for punishing, if a child falls short. Children who are subject to this kind of parenting may debate with parents on issues affecting them.

Authoritarian parenting: - this style is characterized by high expectation of conformity and compliance to parental rules and directions. Authoritarian parents expect much from their children but do not explain the rules at all, unlike the authoritative parent. Authoritarian parents are most likely to hit a child as a form of punishment instead of correcting the child by using other corrective measures. Children from this type of parenting lack social competence as the parent generally predicts what the child should do instead of allowing the child to choose by him/ herself. The children also rarely take initiatives. They are socially withdrawn and look to others to decide what is right. They lack spontaneity and lack curiosity. They are most vulnerable to enter into relations with or marry equally abusive and controlling partners or develop mental illness when they enter adulthood. On the opposite side of the spectrum, some children might also rebel by openly defying the parents by leaving home at a younger age than some of their peers as well as dating and/ or marrying a partner whom they know their parents would disapprove of, and often might be estranged from their parent during adulthood. Many people who grew up with authoritarian parents have sometimes mentioned that they have feeling of sense of relief whenever one (or both) of their parents dies.

Permissive parenting

Permissive parenting is characterized as having few behavioral expectations for the child and is characterized by warm affect. Parents are nurturing and accepting, but non-demanding. This type of parent simply wants the child to like him or her at the end of the day and will do anything the child requests to do. Sometimes they might do this out of fear that their children will rebel in negative ways if they are to control their impulses and do not accept the responsibility for their own actions.

Permissive parents raise unhappy children who lack self control, especially in the give - and - take of peer relationships. Inadequate emotional regulation makes them immature and impedes friendships. They tend to live and remain close to where they grew up, still dependent. However, like a child raised in an authoritative setting and unlike a child raise in an authoritarian setting, the children will often continue to have a close and loving relationship with the parents in adulthood.

Neglectful Parenting

This is also known as non-conformist parenting and is similar to permissive parenting but the parents do no care much about the child. They are generally not involved in their child's life, but will provide basic needs for the child. Many times, children will grow up feeling resentment against their parents for being neglectful and often might be estranged from them. The level of this estrangement might even be determined by the gender of the child.

However, on the other hand, gender refers to sex which means male and female. Roznowski & Smith (1993) see gender as a wide range of behaviour; attitudes and emotional state that are commonly seem as associated with individual's gender. Hyde and Linn (1988) also see gender as male and female. Differences between males and females in either behaviour or mental processes are referred to as gender differences. It has often been suggested that such differences are minimal which bolsters the argument that the two sexes are equal. (Hyde and Linn, 1988; Roznowski & Smith, 1993). Eagly (1995) pointed out, however, that this assertion grew largely out of political agenda aimed at raising the status of women in society and that it is not entirely supported by empirical studies. The two important role of gender differentiation are gender role and gender identity.

Gender or sex role refers to a wide range of behaviours, attitudes and emotional states that are commonly seeing as associated with individual gender. Gender has given individual role stereotyping, in which they come to believe that certain behaviours and only those behaviour are appropriate for members of a given gender.

Cognitive psychologist proposed that human are so bombarded with stimuli that we simplify the world by creating categories. They argued that religion and moral are part of those factors that affect cognitive performances. A review of the small amount of research shows that those that are highly religious perform better in academic than those that are superficially or less religious (Bergin, 1967). Some theologists argue that morality is based on religion and consequently that without religion, there can be no morality. There is a close relationship between religion and morality. This implies that a person that is highly religious and moral would not be involved in examination malpractices.

Ikupa (1997), described examination malpractices as an illegal or unethical behaviour by somebody in the process of testing an examinee's ability or knowledge by means of question. Oluyeba and Daramola (2000) also maintained that it is an irregular behaviour exhibited by candidates or anybody charged with the conduct of examination in or outside the examination hall before, during or after such examination.

One of the most effects of examination malpractices is that students tend to be lazy and gradually the culture of learning in our educational institution is being eroded. The resultant effect of this is the high rate of failure in examination especially public examinations. Students who engaged in examination malpractices soon become handicapped as the false impression of demonstrated potentials leads to their being wrongly placed either for courses, occupational preparation or job placement. In either of these cases, incompetence is surely going to be demonstrated and this is what is happening to most of our graduates today, they only possess the certificate but lack the technical know how or the knowledge needed to perform in the job they are employed for.

Examination malpractices could take various forms viz: examination leakage, smuggling of answer scripts, impersonation, collusion in the examination hall, insult or assault of invigilators, assistance from teachers or lecturers, exchange of scripts and certificate forgery.

A number of causes have been associated with examination malpractices such as poor preparation of students and lack of self confidence (Omofonmwan, 2001). Also Jegede (1997) identified three important factors such as:

Irregular payment of lecturers' salaries and allowances which bring about incessant strike actions. Lazy lecturers who would not do their works but present themselves as being friendly to the students during examinations and inadequate or lack of teaching materials and shortage of staff.

Others according to Aina (1997) are:

- Fear of failure in the examination on the part of candidates.

- Desire to get certificate at all cost instead of acquiring knowledge.

- Parents' desire to get their wards educated by all means even if it means cheating or other fraudulent practices in and out of the exam hall.

- Assistance of some school authorities in cheating so that they can have good ratings of their school.

- Variance between the course the parent wants the child to do and the desire or the ability of the child.

- The contributions of those lecturers who want to get the favor of the student or enrich themselves by all means.

- Poor funding.

- Lack of good leadership -a leader that is corrupt can do little or nothing to curb examination malpractices.

- Inadequate or lack of qualified teachers.

- Lack of incentives and motivation.

- Inadequate instructional or training facilities.

- Incessant closure of schools.

Examination malpractices have a lot of effects and consequences on the individual concerned, the parents and the society or nation at large. Critically examining our education standard, one would discover that it has fallen completely. The brilliant ones are no longer motivated to study hard again since they could see some of their counterparts who are more or less dullards and yet having good grades since they are able to buy the conscience of their lecturers. The more money you are able to offer some of these lecturers, the better the grade you would get. Many of the graduates today only possess the certificate but the technical know how or the knowledge in question is absent.

Examining the consequence on the parents, many of these children become jobless or unemployable and so, instead of them being the one to be assisting the parents now after spending much on their education, they turnout to be liabilities to their parents since they are not employable.

Considering the effects of examination malpractices on our nation, this act gradually leads to corruption, dishonesty, lack of integrity, lawlessness, laziness e.t.c. The decay in our economy today is an offshoot of examination malpractices. The issue of Niger Delta crisis is partly due to the fact that many of the youths there are not properly educated. The issue of human resource or capacity building is even at stake since we have many quarks and fake professionals who were made through this fraudulent act of examination malpractices.

As long as examination malpractices still strive in our society and the culprits are not properly dealt with or allowed to go unpunished, the student attitude towards it will always be positive. Moreso, until the parents changed their orientation and appreciate hard work, honesty and integrity of labour, the attitude of their wards towards examination malpractices will always be positive. Concerning the teachers, principals, lecturers or any authority that is involved, there must be adequate punishment and probably shown the way out of the system so that others can learn lessons from them. The attitude will always be positive because they feel it is the quickest way of passing through the hurdles of success and to make it in life.

Parents should realize that helping your wards in cheating does not mean that you are helping the child to achieve success in life; rather, you are assisting to destroy the future of that child. Such child will always see him/herself as always being dependent, not capable. So, he will always want to rely on others for assistance to succeed all the time.


1. Male students will have a significant more positive attitude towards examination malpractices than female students.

2. Parenting style will have a significant influence on the attitude of students towards examination malpractices.

3. High level of religiousity will have a positive influence on the attitude toward examination malpractices.

4. Parenting style and religiousity will significantly have a positive influence on the attitude of students towards examination malpractices.


Research Design - The study was a survey of the psychological factor that influence university students' attitude towards examination malpractices. The independent variables were parenting style, gender and religiosity while the dependent variable was attitude towards examination malpractices. Each of the independent variables has sub-levels. Parenting style appears in three (3) levels, gender has two levels (2) and religiosity has two (2) levels. Therefore, the design for the study is 3 × 2 × 2 factorial.


A total number of two hundred students (100 males, 100 females) were randomly selected from Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba -Akoko, Ondo State. Two hundred questionnaires were administered on students. However, the total questionnaires collected back were one hundred and ninety eight (198) copies given the statistics as one hundred males and ninety eight females. The participants' ages ranged below 20 and above 27 years.


Questionnaires were used to collect data in this study. This consisted of four sections; the biodata form, attitude towards examination cheating scale (ATECs), the religiosity affiliation scale (RAS) and the parental care scale (PCS).

Attitude towards Examination Cheating Scale

This was developed by Alarape and Onakoya (2003). The scale consists of 14 items using the 5-point Likert - type format ranging from Strongly Agree (SA) to Strongly Disagree (SD).

ATECs had an alpha reliability co- efficient of 0.83 and Spearman Brown split - half reliability coefficient of 0.76.

Parental Care Scale (PCS) - This was developed by Baumrid (1971). The 20 - item inventory is designed to measure the three principal styles which children perceived as approaches their parents use to take care of them. The principal styles are authoritative, permissive, and authoritarian parenting styles.

Scoring - Each correct response in three categories of parenting styles are scored by awarding 1 point. The items under each category are listed below.

a. Authoritarian Style: 1 point for each YES marked in items: 2, 9, 11,12,14,15 and 19.

b. Permissive Style: 1 point for each YES marked items: 3,4,6,7,13,16,18.

c. Authoritarian Style: 1 point for each YES marked in items: 1, 5, 8,10,17,20.

Lastly, add together the correct points for each of the three categories to obtain the clients score for the particular parenting style.

Norms - Baumrid (1971) reported the original psychometric properties for American samples while Tumasi - Ankrah (2002) and Omoluabi (2002) provided the properties for African samples.


Baumrid (1971) reported an internal consistency alpha coefficient of .86.


Omoluabi (2002) obtained a concurrent validity coefficient of .73 by correlating PCS and IFR (Hudson, 1982).

Interpretation - The African norms or mean scores are the basis for interpreting the scores of clients. Scores higher than the norms indicate the dominance of the particular parenting style.

Religious Affiliation Scale (RAS)

This was developed by Omoluabi (1995) to measure how devoted people are to their religion. This was administered to individual to respond to.


Items shaded "True" were counted and multiplied each by 3. The scores range from 3 to 63.

Norms: The mean scores as reported by Okunola (1995) are as follow: Male 26.70 and female = 35.04

Reliability - Omoluabi (1995) reported a test-retest reliability coefficient of .97 in an interval of three weeks.

Validity - Erinoso (1996) correlated RAS with life satisfaction Index - z by Neugaten et al (1961) and obtained a divergent validity coefficient of- .26.

The mean scores are the basis for interpreting the scores of clients. Scores higher than the norms indicate high religious affiliation.


To find out the relationship that exists among the variables, parenting style, gender, religiosity and examination malpractices, Pearson Product Moment Correlation was used to intercorrelate the scores of all the participants. The result is presented below.

The result has no significant relationship with any of the variables (p>0.05). Sex and parenting style has a negative and non-significant relationship (r (198) = -0.067, p> 0.05). The relationship that exist between sex and religiousity too was not significant (r (198) = 0.020, p>0.05). Also sex does not have a significant relationship with examination malpractices (r (198) = 0.024, p> 0.05).

A very high and positive significant correlation was found to exist between parenting style and religiousity (r (198) = 0.308, p<0.01). This indicates that if all other factors are kept constant, proper commitment in parenting style will bring about an increase in religiousity.

Between parenting style and examination malpractices, a significant relationship was seen, but negatively correlated, (r (198) = 0.146, p < 0.05). This means that if the parenting style increase, examination malpractices will fall and if parenting style reduce, examination malpractices will be high.

Lastly, there was a significant negative correlation between religiousity and examination malpractices, (r (198) = 0.284, p < 0.01). This means a rise in one of the variables brings about a fall in the other variable.

Table 2 shows that there was no significant difference between the mean scores of males (M = 36.04, SD = 5.462) and females (F = 36.34, SD = 6.944). This in a way contradicted hypothesis 1 that says that males will have a more positive attitude towards examination malpractices than females. It has now been discovered that both sexes have the same disposition towards examination malpractices.

Low religious people were found to have higher mean scores compared to high religious people (38.14 & 34.92) with standard deviation of 6.283 & 5.873 respectively. This confirmed hypothesis 4 that says high level of religiousity will have a positive influence on the attitude of students towards examination malpractices.

Males with low religiousity under permissive parenting style have the highest mean score of 40.10, standard deviation of 4.795. This was followed by females with high religiousity under permissive parenting style (M = 38.76, SD = 7.838). Also, we can see that the lowest mean score recorded was female with high religiosity under authoritative parenting style (m = 33.86, SD = 4.373).Therefore to confirm and determine whether the observed differences in the mean scores were significant 3 × 2 × 2 ANOVA was done.

The result in table 3 shows that parenting style has a significant influence on examination malpractices (F. (1, 186) = 2.431, P < 0.05). This supports hypothesis 2 that says parenting style will have a significant influence on the attitude of students towards examination malpractices.

Religiosity on its own had a significant influence on examination malpractices (F (1, 196) = 10.517, P <0.01). This result is somehow related to hypothesis 3 that says high level of religiousity will have a positive influence on the attitude of students towards examination malpractices. Although table 2 made more clarification on the high level of religiousity but this result indicates and ascertain the statement that religiousity will have a positive influence on examination malpractices.

It was observed also that parenting style and sex had no joint significant influence on examination malpractices (F (1, 186 = 0.082, P >0.05). This means that if both variables are considered together, no significant influence would be found.

Parenting style and religiosity had no joint significant influence on examination malpractices (F (1, 186 = 0.761, P>0.05). This negates hypothesis 4 that says both variables will significantly have a positive influence on attitude of students towards examination malpractices. Sex and religiosity were also found to have no joint significant influence on examination malpractices (F(I, 186) = 0.54, P>0.05). And lastly, there was no joint interaction effects of the three variables on examination malpractices, that is, parenting style, gender and religiosity had no joint significant influence on examination malpractices (F, = (1,185) = 1.546, P > 0.05). This simply signifies that if the three variables are considered together, there will be no significant influence from them on examination malpractices.


The result presented in table 4:1 shows that, a very high positive significant correlation was only found to exist between parenting style and religiosity (r (186 = 0.308, P < 0.01). This indicates that if all other factors are kept constant, proper commitment in parenting style will bring about an increase in religiosity. Also between parenting style and examination malpractices, a significant relationship was found but it was a negative one, (r (187) = -0.146, P <.05). This implies that if the parenting style reduces or there is weak parenting, examination malpractices will be high or increases. This finding is in line with that of McCabe & Trevino (1999), that parental education shows a weak but positive correlation with cheating. Students whose parents received college degree are slightly more likely to cheat than students whose parent did not attend college. In this case, the moral education and training given to the children at home also goes along way to help the children to resist this monster called examination malpractices. Moreso, the parents must be examples of hardwork since they are the first and best role model for their children.

There was a significant negative correlation between religiosity and examination malpractices (r (187) = -0.028, P < 0.01). This implies that highly religious students do not involve in examination malpractices.

The result presented in table 4.2 shows that the first hypothesis which predicts that male students will have a significant more positive attitude towards examination malpractices than male students was rejected. The mean for males was 36.04 and that of female was 36.34 respectively. Examining the two mean scores, one would discover that there was no significant difference between the two mean scores. This implies that both male and female students have equal attitude towards examination malpractices. This confirmed the findings of Afigbo (1997), who found that both male and female students are involved in examination malpractices. One of the reasons for this according to Aina (1997) is the fear of failure in the examination on the part of candidates and the craziness for certificates, which can only be earned after passing examination.

Hypothesis 2, which states that parenting style will have a significant influence on the attitude of students towards examination malpractices, was confirmed in the analysis done in table 3. (F (1,186) = 2.431, P < 0.05). This shows that parenting has a significant influence on attitude of their wards towards examination malpractices. Belsky (1986) submitted that parents are very important in the life of a child; therefore, parenting will influence the development of a child. He also maintained that the use of induction or reasoning, consistent discipline and expression of warmth have been found to relate positively to self-efficacy and intellectual achievement during the school age years.

Conger (1977) reiterated that, the relationship between parents and their wards helps them to develop a strong sense of who they are and during this relationship, parents provide some frameworks. This relationship also helps to develop a high level of self efficacy in them which helps them to have better metacognitive skills, regulate how they approach tasks, and are confident to approach new challenges with optimism, (Bandura 1997; Zimmerman, 1995, Bandura & Jourden, 1991, & Moffit 2005).

The third hypothesis which states that high level of religiousity will have a positive influence on the attitude of students towards examination malpractices was rejected in table 2, but was confirmed in table 3 with the use of analysis of variance. In table 2, low religious people was found to have higher score compared to high religious people (38.14 - 34.92). It therefore negates the hypothesis. But, this was confirmed in table 3, (F (1, 186) = 10.517, P < 0.01). This implies that people that are committed to their religion either Islamic religion or Christianity try as much possible to have respect for what they believe in and also fear their God. This does not rule out the fact that some that pretends to be highly religious still engages in examination malpractices.

Hypothesis four says, parenting style and religiosity will significantly have a positive influence on the attitude of students towards examination malpractices was rejected according to table 3. There was no joint significant influence on examination malpractices (F (1,186) = 0.761, P > 0.05). This implies that parents, who are not good in parenting and are not committed to what they profess in their religion, cannot have positive influence on their children against examination malpractice. When the life style of parents negates what they are teaching their wards, their wards will take more from their character than from their words. Parents serve as the first and best role model for their children. If parents are honest, hardworking and appreciate the value of integrity, they will surely pass down the same value to their children.


This paper attempted to present the trend in examination malpractices in our tertiary institutions. Cheating in the examination continue to assume a sophisticated scope and form. The effort directed at curbing this menace has not been effective and this directly or indirectly is affecting our society today within and without the country.

To be able to overcome this problem, a solid foundation should be built through the provision of infrastructures, supervision of teachers. Also provision of instructional materials, strict adherence to syllabus and to examination rules and regulations.

Parents should try to inculcate good moral behaviour in their children right from childhood. Let them understand the importance of some values like hardwork, integrity, honesty etc. and they themselves should be a good role model to their children. They should be able to stand and condemn any unwanted behaviour spotted in their children.

The government, the federal, state and the local should first discipline themselves and shun all forms of bribery and corruption because most of the crimes committed in our society are linked with bribery and corruption.

Laws and regulations concerning examinations should not just be paper work only but they should be fully implemented. Checks and balances should be intensified in the setting, production, custody and distribution of examination questions.

Stringent measures should be put in place to detect culprits in examination fraud.

Government at all levels should embark on more enlightment and be more commitment to financing education in an attempt to build strong human capacity.


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Author affiliation:


Adekunle Ajasin University

Author affiliation:

* Correspondence: Stella Abiodun Olowodunoye, Department of Psychology, Adekunle Ajasin University, P.M.B. 001, Akungba-Akoko. Email: Phone No: 08059227041

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