By Jerry Madubueze
After several decades of operation in Anglophonic West Africa, the West Africa Examinations Council in recent past has been experiencing a downturn of performance and results of students with particular attention and reference to Nigeria.
As an examination body, WAEC with registeredcandidates in 2014, standing at over 1 millionas compared to any other African nation under its reins with total of about 3 million between Ghana, Gambia and Sierra-Leone, Nigeria has the highest number of candidates from the body. This staggering figure when compared to 969,991 candidates registered in 2015 for NECO shows a higher preference of WAEC over NECO.
Since early 2000 when NECO had its maiden examination, the success rate of candidates has risen from 40% to about 68.5% in 2015. All of these candidates have at least 5credits including core subjects English Language and Mathematics. This compared to WAEC’s recent failure rate has brought questions as to why candidates register more for that which they stand lesser chance to succeed in. The factors contributing to these are not farfetched from the fact that results from one are better recognized inhigher institutions both in Nigeria and abroad.Aside from this, WAEC against NECO is believed to have ‘more experience’. Despite this wideacclaim and acceptance, the exam body has in recent years come under criticism from parents and students alike as to unresolved cases of missing results of candidates as well as mass failure.
Questions arise and blames are traded from one end to the other as to the factors responsible for this sudden negative turn. Itis worthy of note that the candidates of publicschools’ failure rate is higher than in private schools. Is it safe to say, private school students are more brilliant?
In a recent interview with Mr Charles Eguridu, the Head of National Office (HNO) WAEC, the reasons for this sudden mass failure has been put down to lack of proper preparation of candidates, and teaching facilities as well as a number of quality teachers. He stressed on
the role of parents in curtailing and controlling the use of phones and
other sophisticated gadgets which go a long way in impeding the attention and consequently preparation of candidates. Teaching facilities that aid better understanding and preparation of students is lacking in most schools of some candidates especially those in the science department that sometimes do not get to use or even see some apparatus until weeks before practicalexaminations. In some schools, the quality of teachers available is nothing to write home about as some are SSCE and ND (National Diploma) holders who are used as cheap labour.
Aside from these factors that are general or should I say universal to both public and private schools, it is still important to highlight the causes of more failure in public schools compared to private schools. MrEguridu pointed out some of these factors. He said in about 19 states of the Federation, the board is being owed about 4 billion Naira for state government sponsored candidates for the years 2014 and 2015 WASSCE. Owingto this, their results have been withheld. Somepublic schools lack proper educational facilities as the ones available are either broken or outdated. Teachers of these public schools do not either as they rarely turn up for classes.
In the light of these factors aforementioned, it becomes pertinent to chart a way forward for Nigerian students. Noteworthy in all these, is the fact that these failure statistics is peculiar to Nigeria. Therefore, the Ministry of Education needs to step in andmake radical reforms and evaluation of educational facilities in our public schools and make necessary changes and repairs. This is important because, this form of education is the only place available to the masses. Reforms and revisionof educational curriculum is also needed to match current trends and standard in the world. This, I believe is what stands most high-paying private school students out from their counterparts in public schools.
The roles of parents in this cannot be over-emphasized as the greater jobhas previously been left to the teachers, especially by the working class parents. The parents are needed to regulate the time these adolescents spend on satellite television, on their phones and on surfing the net. We have to always remember that WAEC is an international body and sameexaminations are written across Liberia, Sierra-Leone, Gambia, Ghana and of course Nigeria. Therefore if the prizes for excellence over the last three years have been going to Ghanaians, then we need to identify what they do right and adopt and what we do so wrong, should be corrected. This is to put Nigeria back on top as true Giants of Africa as we claim to be.
First published in 2015 in Inspiredsoundz Academic Journal