26th September, 2011
The headlines in leading national newspapers last weekend said it all: NECO Releases Results, Records Another Mass Failure.
For the fourth year in a row, many candidates who sat for this yearâ€™s June/July Senior School Certificate Examination, SSCE, organised by National Examination Council, NECO, failed the exams.
It must have been a sobering task for the Registrar/Chief Executive of NECO, Prof. Promise M. Okpala, while he was reeling out the figures of those who passed or failed the core subjects in the examination.
According to him, out of the 1,160,049 who sat for the English Language examination, only 265,000 passed with credit.
And in another core subject, Mathematics, only 299,000 out of the 1,156,561 candidates passed the subject, which also recorded massive malpractice. At least 439,529 candidates were involved in the malpractice, which is almost half of the students who sat for the subject.
The students didnâ€™t fare better in other core subjects such as Biology, Physics, Further Maths, Chemistry, etc.
Every year, there is mass failure in public examinations like NECO and WASCE, and fingers are pointed in all directions. Some blame students, some blame the teachers and others blame the parents, the government and the society. As usual, Prof. Okpala exonerated NECO for this yearâ€™s failure and attributed it to several variables, among which are the students themselves, the various schools across the country, parents and the society.
The result shows the huge decline in the nationâ€™s education sector and this portends a grave danger for the future of our nation.
At the root of all this are poor funding of the sector, total neglect, corruption, unqualified teachers handling some subjects, students not ready to learn because of too many distractions.
We have all these problems on our hands barely four years away from meeting the target of Education For All, EFA, mantra of the Federal Ministry of Education. Education Minister, Prof. Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufai is aware of this gargantuan challenge but can she fix it?
A situation where students learn under squalid conditions cannot guarantee excellent performance in examinations. You donâ€™t give what you donâ€™t have. In some schools, classrooms have no roofs and students are exposed to the elements. In some cases, one classroom is divided into four classes with four teachers taking different subjects simultaneously. The cacophony arising from this crazy setting is enough to confuse the students. In some schools, there are not tables and chairs.
We shall continue to post this dismal result unless the quality of teaching improves in our secondary schools. Students themselves have to be more hard working. They must shun distractions like browsing the internet all day or watching movies and premiership matches when they are supposed to be reading their books.
There should be more funding for our education and serious monitoring, especially of primary and secondary schools which are the foundations of the learning process. Parents and other stakeholders in the sector must see the mass failure as a wake up call to address the rot in the sector if not, the nationâ€™s development will be in serious jeopardy.