By Funmi Ajumobi

Though the 2015  results from the Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations (SSCE), conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), are a slight improvement on the ones from last year’s, they are still nothing to write home about.

Candidates writing the UTME at the University of Abuja, Saturday.
File Photo: SSCE Exams

The  Head of Nigerian Office, WAEC, Mr Charles Eguridu, who announced the 2015 results at his Yaba Office, said: “Out of 1,593,442 candidates who sat for the examinations, only 616,370 candidates, representing 38.68%, obtained credits in five subjects and above including English Language and Mathematics.”

Speaking on the slight improvement in the results from previous years, Eguridu said that in 2014, 529,425, representing 31.28 per cent, obtained five credits in English and Mathematics while, in 2013, total candidates who obtained five credits in English and Mathematics were 639,760, representing 38.30 per cent.

Getting 38% in any examination is nothing to be reckoned with in any part of the world. In fact, such a result means automatic repeat for any student at any level of examination.

The failure of most of the students in the 2015 exams must have further impoverished  parents who went through thick and thin to register their wards, buying registration cards, result check cards and all sorts of cards that now characterise examinations in our education sector, but enriched the government and the communication sector players.

Efforts to speak with Lagos State Ministry of Education officials on the way forward proved abortive, but the ministry’s Public Relations Officer said he was not in the position to say anything because the results had not been sent to states. Mrs E.M. Osime, the outgoing principal of Queen’s College, Lagos, who just retired from active service after 35 years, however, said the Nigeria educational system is good generally “because it is the same  system that has produced people like us”.

Osime told Sunday Vanguard: “For instance,  from primary to secondary school, and to university,  I did all in Nigeria and many like me are also products of the Nigerian education system. However, there are several areas within our education system that need closer attention.

I don’t want to say the results of the external examination board are not correct, but because they are generalised, it doesn’t give room to see specific schools that do well. We haven’t seen our results for this year, but all our students who have checked have good results; the same thing last year. It is not  the entire education sector that has problems.

“There are some private schools that have excellent results and there are some very good Federal Government Colleges whose students do very well too. However, there are still many that are not doing well. The first thing is the calibre of students that we admit. If we can stick to merit on admission, it will go a long way to correcting some of these failures.

But the peculiarity of our country is such that you must have representation from different parts of the country, especially in Unity Schools. There is also interference from people who are not in the education sector. This interference comes from government as well as private individuals. One example is when the government directed that NYSC members must be teachers even when they don’t have education background; this does not augur well for education output”.

Mrs Ade Ojo, a parent in one of the government schools, said her daughter failed English but has five credits in the just released results. Ojo said she was not really happy and advised government to revert to the policy of a former governor of Osun State that any teacher whose students have been failing SSCE should be sacked, saying she saw no reason for government to continue to pay such English and Mathematics teachers.

“Of course, the policy did not go down with the teachers and protests destabilised the former governor’s government. He was voted out in his second term maybe because of the power of voters in the state who are mainly teachers or civil servants who were also affected”, the parent said.

“The former governor’s successor then re-absorbed the sacked teachers and officials. Though teachers do not have the bulk of the blame at their doorsteps, their own side of blame is majorly the continuous failure in the core subjects. For crying out loud, government should look into this issue. If government is not training you, won’t you improve yourself? It is like teachers do not see the failure of their students as failure on their own part, hence the yearly woeful results”.

Mrs Tope Olutola, a secondary school teacher in Lagos,  said teachers are always at the receiving end. “Parents contribute more than 80% to the woes of education in this country. They don’t encourage their children to read again. It is now competition of showing off of riches in the way the students use phones and tablets under the cover of getting them to use technology.

Do they monitor their children on what they do with them? Many parents believe in special centres where answers will be given to their children during examination and, despite the efforts of government to stop it, Nigerians still have their way even in writing common entrance examination to Federal Secondary Schools”, Olutola said.

“What result do you expect from a child whose his or her admission was bought for him or her to enter secondary school? These students make teachers job difficult because they don’t write notes not to talk of reading textbooks. At the end of the day, the same parents push the blame on teachers.

There is this chain of failure built from   primary school to higher institution by parents trying to compulsorily cover their inability to train their children. They prefer to pursue money and property at the expense of their children’s education”.

Olutola did not spare students as well, as she said most of them now sleep and wake up with earphones listening to music, watching films on the internet and the social media, a situation which, according to him, has made many of them have hearing or visual problems, and probably limit their thinking and intellectual capacity.

She said government has not been training teachers. Her words: “The teaching profession should be a continuous training profession to be able to adjust to new trends in the world. Many teachers have been using the old generation training to teach the new generation breed. They can only give what they have. Government should review our teaching methodology which has become obsolete especially on the core subjects”.

Mr Segun Raheem, Lagos Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT, said there is a slight improvement compared to last year results, but it is not yet good result. Raheem said: “The factor remains that using English and Mathematics as criteria to determine the percentage of people that pass the examination is not justifiable. For instance, mathematics is not useful for arts students in any of their pursuits.

It should not be used as a yardstick to gain admission into the university for them. Mathematics should just be a passage for them. And the question remains that all other subjects are written in English and the students perform excellently in them. So why are they failing English?

“WAEC has been advised severally to involve teachers in the setting and marking of examinations. It is what they teach that they will set for their students which will reduce this failure.

“Secondly, government should look into the curriculum and review it and, while recruiting,   recruit professionals for different subjects. English, for instance, has different aspects – literature, grammar, poetry, etc – which one teacher ought not be teaching, but if you go to these schools, it is one teacher that does the teaching. Some private schools are doing the right thing in this area and getting the desired result”.

Despite the blame on teachers, parents and students, the buck stops on the table of  government which, oftentimes, have brilliant policies but never enforces them. As the new government unfolds its policy, it should not forget that the education sector needs urgent rescue as the free food promise for students is still eagerly awaited for.

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.