Reporting from Guardian Nigeria News , the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), had once risen from the level of surprise to one of outright national shame. The results of the November/December 2013 edition released the other day, as a matter of fact, showed an even more significant decline when compared with those of the preceding three years, thus raising the phenomenon to one of a national crisis. This is dangerous and requires urgent rescue operations. The embarrassing poor results, which have become perennial, merely however, re-affirm the systematic failure of the country, as there has been consistent failure in governance, in attitude to work and in all other areas. Mass failure in all examinations with little or nothing being done to address it, would be no more than one more in a diary of failures if it were not about the nation’s children, hence the future. This is one crisis too many and must be arrested.
According to the National Office of WAEC, which announced the results, 308, 217 candidates registered out of which only 296,827 candidates sat for the examination. Out of this number, 86,612 candidates representing 29.17 per cent obtained credits in five subjects and above, including English language and Mathematics. Five effective credits inclusive of English Language and Mathematics is the minimum requirement for admission into university. Consequently, those who could not obtain five effective credits may have to re-sit the examination if they desire to apply to a university.
A total of 299,784 candidates, representing 97.26 per cent, had their results fully released while 8,433 candidates or 2.74 per cent had a few of their subjects still being processed due to errors. The results of 36,260 candidates, representing 12.88 per cent, were withheld due to examination malpractice. The national office lamented that despite the council’s zero-tolerance for examination fraud, there has been an increase in the use of mobile handsets by candidates during examinations for various malpractices.
For some time now, poor performance of candidates in public examinations has been the order of the day. In 2011, 139,827 candidates representing 36.07 per cent recorded five effective credits including English Language and Mathematics. In 2012, 150,615 candidates representing 37.97 per cent scored similar results.
The 2009 May/June examination showed that only 356,981 candidates, representing 26 per cent of the 1,373,009 candidates who sat for the examination, obtained five effective credits. The worst result so far was recorded in the May/June examination of 2008 in which out of a total of 1,369,142 candidates, only 188,442 candidates, representing 13.76 per cent obtained five effective credits and above.
Failure is due to many factors. These include poor funding of education; lack of adequate teaching infrastructure; neglect of basic primary education; failure of parents and wards; poor training of teachers; incessant strikes by teachers; lack of interest on the part of government in education and the general malaise in the system. Last year, the former Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Rufa’i celebrated 39 per cent pass rate as a great achievement!
There, of course, can be no magic to enhance the performance of candidates in examinations when the entire system is in tatters. The school system, after all, is part and parcel of the larger Nigerian system.
Of particular concern is the collapse of the public school system, with the result that parents who can afford it take their wards to private schools, which are not better as most are there just to make money. The trend is disturbing. Government must do something urgently to remedy the situation in order to avert the unpleasant implications for the youths and the future of the country. It is the future of the youths that is being destroyed with the on-going missed opportunities to lay a solid foundation for their lives.
The absence of effective inspectorate division in the school system is one of the ills that must be corrected. Poor investment and lack of development in most schools are terribly unacceptable reigning norms which must now be reversed.
It must be stressed that the United Nations recommended at least 26 per cent of the national budget to be invested in education. Here in Nigeria, the investment hovers around a meagre 13 per cent, among the least in sub-Saharan Africa. Besides, there has been a total erosion of the value system. The culture of get-rich-quick, fuelled by greed and wrong example from the nation’s elite is pushing many youngsters to shun the rigour of education and, instead, look for easy way to wealth. This is ominous.
There is no doubt that the education sector is in crisis. And to address it, there should be an Emergency Education Development Agenda that sets targets over a given period of time. This should be followed with massive funding of education at all levels. If that were the main programme of a government, it would be applauded as a worthy effort to rescue the future of this country.
Source: Guardian Nigeria News
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