NIGERIAN EDUCATION; Matters Arising
By Kambiddeen Ahmad
Photos of Kano State Governor Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje in a broad smile, offering a young, female “Candy” (as the graduating students at that level would describe themselves) student a scholarship award up to her doctorate degree level for scoring nine A1s in her West African Examination Council (WAEC) results, was all over social media with many disapproving of the “publicity stunt” as one of the commenters expressed.
His submitted reason being, the still unpaid fees of sponsored students studying in various countries abroad, subjecting them to untold hardships and the recent outstanding fees owed WAEC and NECO by the Kano State government, which is fast jeopardizing the chances of the state indigenes from gaining admission into different post-secondary institutions in the current academic year. As a concerned citizen and follower of events in the polity, there are two or more things one might find difficult to agree with.
First, in the case of Faizah Abubakar Sani, unless we put her to the test, in a real examination settings, I sincerely find this unacceptable. Bother not to ask me why, because most of the students results of WAEC and NECO nowadays are doctored. Meaning, they are a product of examination malpractice i.e. they are allowed to cheat or are given the answers and depending on who is smarter or is able to afford it among the students, he or she comes out tops.
But then let us not rule out the possibility, During the 80s when WAEC was WAEC, Kano State did produce a similar student from one of its science secondary schools who swept off all the credits he sat for. Almost 4 decades later, if achieving the same feat comes back full circle, then gladly she ought to be celebrated. Again, she could be genuine and with time her genius will show. It will surely be easy for her to sustain the conquest in her subsequent academic pursuits.
I’ve often seen students with 9 credits including Mathematics and English from these 2 examination bodies, who cannot even construct a proper sentence or write a formal letter. There was one who stood before me and couldn’t even spell his name correctly. Hmm, what am I talking about? Graduates from our universities these days find that a herculean task to achieve.
This is usually plain to detect. When students with brilliant results are admitted in the universities and they end up struggling to stay afloat as they move through the levels and those who come in with less impressive results flow effortlessly through the courses, you automatically know. For any rational thinking mind, there is something definitely wrong. During my educational pursuits, we had classmates who dropped out after entering with 9 top credits.
How does this situation happen? There are many factors and stakeholders involved. Among which are the examination bodies, the schools and exam centers, invigilators, the parents, students and some unemployed citizens. Usually one or more of the scenarios listed below must be at play. There are more, many more, but let us focus on just the glaringly obvious. Briefly, if we can cite some examples.
One; Impersonation of the student. Meaning the candidate did not write the examination himself or herself. Somebody else, twins in some instances would switch identity and help the other out, as was initially obtained. Then came times when a brother or sister would sit for the examination on his or her siblings behalf, but since brains are here borrowed and cannot thereafter be permanently switched, the obvious become manifest.
Two; We are aware of situations where individuals, some of them unemployed graduates of Mathematics, English and other relevant courses, would impersonate a candidate, male or female, wear the uniform of the school where the exam is scheduled to take place and sit for their SSCE examinations at an agreed fee. It often goes unknown until problems rear their heads due to settlement of debts.
Three; In some instances, secondary school class teachers or even instructors in these extra-lessons private educational outfits would charge special fees to write WAEC or NECO for their candidates and have the answer booklets switched by the invigilators who are often in on the deal and later you have such candidates flaunt 9 credits as if they were the ones who earned it.
Four; The answers to these objective examinations are announced in a “special class”, to a set of students at an exam center, who have each paid a special sum, amounting to thousands of naira. And where there are girls from poor families who cannot afford the amount, but are desperate to gain admission into higher institutions, they would compromise their chastity to be included into such special arrangements.
Five; Outright leakage of the examination question papers could be purposely facilitated to a few selected candidates, who would then have ready-made answers upon entering the examination hall. Or they could have the answer booklets for each paper given to them days earlier and thus finish the examination at their discretion, in the comfort of their homes, with the answers checked and corrected, before being brought over to the exam center. Then same would be replaced with the pretext booklets the students used during the actual exams.
There are many more ways, just that time and space would not allow us elucidate them here. Bottom line of it all is, results from WAEC and NECO of today are not a criteria for measuring intelligence, capacity or capability of students. Just like someone asserted, examination in itself is not. Some students with conscience feel ashamed to say they have 9 credits, whether A1 or mixed with Bs in all, knowing they are not the ones who truly acquired the results.
But lately, years and years into the practice, many beneficiaries of such examination malpractice syndication have become parents. Knowing the easy way out, they do not even allow their wards to develop their intellect. They would just contract the examinations out to be signed, sealed and delivered to their children, who would then come forth and be bragging shamelessly to the world that they have 7, 8 or 9 A1s in their WAEC or NECO. Only for them to be put to the test and they are seriously found wanting. When asked by their lecturers whatever happened to warrant such failure, none of such students can give a tangible answer.
Sad to think what these examination bodies have become. One wonders how students of the 70s, 80s and 90s, who were well taught, some by white teachers and with well equipped classes, practical laboratories, libraries etc to face such terminal tests could barely scrape up 3-5 credits with a 1 or 2 passes. Yet students of today, who attended ram-shacked schools, lacking almost every thing good due to neglect and deterioration of the educational system would be coming out with 8-9 credits as their final results in their ‘almighty WAEC? It does not make any rational sense.
Another very unfortunate thing about this is selecting one person alone to award a scholarship up to PhD level to. She’s probably from an elite home that can afford her education pursuits to all levels. It is a plain case of “Qarawa Borno dawaki” i.e. Further strengthening the strong. Whereas, there are other equally brilliant children from the poor, who deserve such educational support better, but are left to waste away their brains for lack of sponsorship.
Information currently circulating in Kano State is the accusation that Dr. Ganduje’s government is yet to provide funds to WAEC and NECO for the release of results of secondary school students of the state. This has led to some candidates of the state, vying for admission in various universities in the 2016-2017 academic session, foremost of which is Bayero University, Kano (BUK) to miss their chances of placement in this citadel of learning due to lack of their SSCE results. The unresolved case of the students studying abroad is still fresh in our minds.
BUK is reported from reliable sources to have conducted a candidates admission screening exercise, better referred to as post-UTME, though such a screening process has been banned by the Federal Ministry of Education under its current Minister Adamu Adamu. They cited the dilemma in determining which of the over 21 thousand candidates to admit. This action coming from an institution such as BUK, notwithstanding its justification would most likely send the wrong signals to others, encouraging them to flagrantly disobey constituted authorities.
It is disheartening the way education is treated with non-chalancy in this country by all the stakeholders, from government down to the private sector. So many questions begging for answers, which seems not forthcoming anytime soon. For instance, why are students sent abroad to study, knowing well their financial needs and vulnerability allowed to be distressed at their various locations? And this case of students’ WAEC fees, it is already costing some of the students a whole year in their academic career.
One is wont to ask why such should be allowed to happen? Again whatever happens to the rest of the students who passed their Joint Admission & Matriculation Board (JAMB) exams, but are not able to gain admission into BUK, citing just one institution, after missing their post-UTME? Though latest update on this matter is the unconfirmed report that WAEC and NECO have entered into an agreement with the Kano State Government to release the students results pending when funds would be made available to forestall further victimization of the students. If such an arrangement could be made, one wonders why it was not put in place earlier.
Nigeria must wake up to the fact that our country is now used as a source of foreign resource earnings to the tune of billion dollars by countries that provide placements for Nigerian citizens, who travel abroad to study and acquire one educational qualification or another. And we are talking about even non-specialized courses that are readily available in our home universities. This, in no small way is seriously affecting our national economy, though many of us are unaware of its negative impact.
We must know that these countries using Nigeria as a source of foreign exchange earnings, would never welcome our educational system getting back on track. And so they would do anything to ensure we keep going to them with our hard earned and hard sourced foreign currencies, drained from our economy. Clearly we are not helping the matter by our unpatriotic attitude which is nurturing further the neglect bedeviling our education system.
Need we be reminded that education is the key, the bedrock of any meaningful development of a people and its society. If third world countries want to escape the traps of poverty, illiteracy and lack of advancement, they must place education in its rightful position and give it the required attention and funding it truly deserves. Else, others will and through their scholarship offers, take away some of the most brilliant minds of any nation, especially where things are perpetually in shambles.
Does Nigeria come to our minds?
(c)2016 Kambiddeen O. Ahmed/DWi