BY DAYO ADESULU
The poor academic standard of many Senior School Certificate holders and undergraduate students of the nation’s tertiary institutions has been attributed to widespread examination malpractice that take place in special centers across the country where students are assisted in external examinations.
This assertion came from the Proprietor of Royal Schools, Ipaja, Lagos, Mr. Steven Oni while assessing the state of the nation’s education. According to him, the issue of exam malpractice has done an incalculable damage to the country’s education system, explaining that it would have collapsed totally long time ago if not for the intervention of private schools.
He holds parents and authorities of examination bodies culpable of the pervasive problem. His words: “Some parents actually seek assistance for their children in external examination by registering them in special centers where teachers assist the students in examination halls.
This is a terrible disaster. That is why some students in senior secondary classes openly boast of going to register at G.C.E centers meant for private candidates”.
Oni, who is also a lawyer, said the only way to stem this tide is the strict enforcement of discipline in schools and the sitting of students for external examinations in schools other than their own.
His words: “Every
approved college should be compelled to ensure that any student that registers at G.C.E centers should be exposed and brought to book by government.
Also special centers should be outlawed. Discipline must also start from schools. For instance, students of the same class are not allowed to sit together during internal examinations in my school.
Thus an SS1 student writing examination may find him or herself surrounded by JSS1 or JSS2 students. So there is no way you can copy the scripts of another student.”
“So students sitting for SSCE should be removed from the immediate environment of their schools and should be supervised by teachers other than those who taught them. Once they know this, the students will sit up and read well before examination”, the proprietor further counseled.
The poor academic standard of many public schools in the country, says Oni, is caused by teachers’ lackadaisical attitude to their work. He said: teachers in public schools are not committed to their job.
This problem has a social dimension because these teachers are not happy when they see their mates, who are in other lucrative jobs, in jeep when they can’t even afford to feed well. So, these teachers are doing other things to make money by all means. How do you expect such teachers to have the interest of students at heart?”
This is why students of public schools record mass failure in WAEC and NECO – conducted examinations every year, says the former Personnel Manager of Inlakas Plc, while students in private schools perform well. Since private schools in the country have contributed immensely to the growth of education in the country, Oni is of the view that government should partner schools instead of exploiting them.
“In Lagos State, private schools pay multiple taxes. They pay annual dues and all sort of taxes. What I expect Lagos State government to do is the adoption of consolidated method of taxation to enable schools to budget for it and not subjecting them to multiple taxation”, he said.
He advised both the federal and state governments to muster enough political will to ensure that a student is not promoted to the next class if he or she fails the promotion examination. According to him, promotion to the next class is not automatic in his school, saying any student who does not score 50% and above in SS1 will not go to SS2 while those who perform brilliantly well are given scholarship to encourage them to be more hard working.
“Right now ten of my students are on scholarship. Any JSS1 to SS2 student who comes first throughout the session will get scholarship for a term when he or she will not pay tuition fee. This type of incentive should be adopted by government for secondary school students.”
He, however, noted that this can only be put in place by a minister of education or commissioners of education who have genuine interest in education. Thus he canvases for the appointment of committed people into these offices who may not necessarily be educationists.
He said: “The mistake we keep on making in this country is the appointment of educationists as managers of our education system. The fact that you are a qualified educationist does not mean you have interest of education of this country at heart. “There are people from the private sector who are not educationists but who have the interest of education at heart.
We all know what Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, who is not an educationist did when she was in charge at the Federal Ministry of Education. We have many of them like that who can do excellently well. So appointment of our education managers should not be on political patronage. This is how we can attain the desired level in the education sector.”