(Audacious Exploit with MURTALA AGBOOLA)
The National Examinations Council (NECO) released the results of the last Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) (external) with many students failing woefully again. The result followed similar trend with its parallel body, the West African Examination Council (WAEC) which had earlier released its result. Besides the poor performance in the exams, WAEC was enmeshed in the controversy of releasing two results to some candidates.
WAEC has come up openly to explain the controversy trailing the unfortunate incident but many Nigerians are unconvinced. According to the foremost examination body in the West Africa sub-region, some unscrupulous staffers connived with some desperate candidates to alter some results already released while releasing some withheld or outstanding results. Candidates and parents who were “positively affected” by the upgrading are crying blue murder after printing the better of the two results, while WAEC insist that results earlier released remain sacrosanct.
The Head of National office, Dr Iyi Uwadiae has promised to fish out the bad eggs and prosecute them to serve as a deterrent to others. The results released this year are not different from the previous ones particularly in the last four years. What is responsible for this persistent abysmal performance on the part of students? Can anything be done to remedy this ugly situation? Several attempts have been made to correct the problem but there seem to be no solution in sight.
Education is a very powerful weapon in every modern society. It has even become a meal ticket which provides people with it, a comfortable standing in the society. Without certificate there is hardly any meaningful thing that can be carried out. There is over dependence on the acquisition of certificate at the expense of skill that some prefer to get certificate at all cost. The society’s respect and reverence of certificate has led to unscrupulous people employing dubious means to get it at all cost. Our craze for titles has compounded this problem.
The education ministry has to overhaul a lot of things including curriculum content to suit local situation. Our questions should be practical in orientation rather than to “chew, pour, pass and forget. It is easy to cram some subjects and pass without necessarily understanding the depth of the course and what it entails. Basically questions should be applied in nature such that question on inflation, overpopulation and scarcity in economics must be applied to make it more meaningful.
The inspectorate division of the ministry of education should be reinvigorated to task teachers in the field and make sure that they are up and doing. The remuneration of teachers too should not be overlooked. Teachers should be encouraged to go for in-service training or capacity – enhancement seminars or symposia on regularly basis especially during the long vocation. However I do not subscribe to the reductionist approach of putting all the blame of woeful students performance at the doorsteps of teachers alone. This approach has largely failed but some governments view it as the bane of students failure.
In some states, aptitude tests were conducted on teachers and most of them did not live up to expectation. In Kwara State, during the administration of the immediate past Governor of the State, Dr. Bukola Saraki, aptitude test was conducted for teachers in the state employment and many failed. Recently similar thing was carried out on teachers in secondary schools in Ekiti State as a result of which some principals were downgraded while other senior teachers were demoted. This is, however, not particular to teachers. In the federal civil service, examination was conducted for the top hierarchy of the civil servants but many were found wanting. While I am not making a case for teachers who are non-performers, I hasten to add that looking at that angle alone would not solve the problem.
What then is the solution? As a person who has close to two decades of experience in teaching, I hasten to say that we need a holistic approach to this problem. All stakeholders should be involved in such a way that their views would be heard. As regards the solution, parents, students and the government all have their roles to play to ensure a success.
Parents should live up to their expectation not only in fending for their kids but also ensure that their children study hard. Some parents are so pre-occupied with the search for money that they abdicate their parental obligations to teachers only.
In reality students spend between six and seven hours with teachers in schools while they spend the remaining with their parents. If a child becomes a deviant, is the teacher to be blamed? Parents should ensure that assignments given out to students are effectively supervised at home. Parents do not need to abandon their natural responsibility on the basis that they are paying through their noses to educate their children. Sending one’s children to the best schools, should not stop them from visiting their children at school occasionally. Some students pretend to be of a good behaviour when they are at home whereas they are different human beings entirely when they are at school.
Students should also live up to expectation. They owe it a duty not only to themselves and their parents but also to the society to ensure that they engage in serious academic work to enable them pass. Granted the fact that there are a lot of distractions such as the internet, European soccer, handsets, the blackberry and the android. All these could be used for the positive development to enhance their academic pursuits but some choose to use it negatively to engage in fraudulent activities. Some students now specialize in the popular “yahoo-yahoo” business. Unemployment situation has led some graduates to turn themselves into “Education-merchants.” They establish tutorial centres for remedial studies.
Rather than concentrate on the teaching of students, they resort to magic centres where they place all their students in order to assist them during examinations. In these centres, all students who play ball by paying the exorbitant fees charged are placed there with exam officials who are compromised.
On the exam days, the invigilators and supervisors are paid handsomely to look elsewhere when the nefarious activities are taking place. Most of the customers are usually rich people whose children have no time to sit down and read but want to pass at all cost.
The parents are desperados whose children have good jobs awaiting them on completion of their courses. The students can in most cases find their level at the tertiary institutions but need to pass the ‘Almighty WAEC/NECO.
Until recently, exam cheats and their collaborators go scot free but recent events have proved otherwise. Some students and the invigilator – collaborators were arrested and plans are ahead to prosecute them. The situation is so bad that some parents are of the firm belief that students who pass exams do so with the aid of exam cheats. I was in an office in Osogbo recently where I overhead two women discussing about their offspring seeking admission into universities in Nigeria. The first woman a business tycoon expressed her disgust with admission process into universities. Her friend, the career civil servant told her point blank that she does not need to lament, rather she needs to go through the same route which many people ply. The friend enquired and the response is short and sharp-enrol her at a magic centre and you are assured your child’s admission is guaranteed.
I watch the discussion with awe and I was dumbfounded that some people can be this ignorant. But do they really regard themselves as that? In conclusion it is my candid opinion that society should place less emphasis on paper qualification but on skill. Technical Colleges should be resuscitated while the Advance Level programme could also be brought back to lessen burden on admission into universities. The emphasis is on universities as against, colleges of education and polytechnics.
We all, as stakeholders either as parents, government officials, teachers or well meaning individuals need to assist to ensure that only people who pass exams proceed for further studies.
The present situation where people cheat to pass exam is neither helpful to society and ultimately the culprits themselves. We owe our future generation a better society.