Poor performance in last NECO exams underscores neglect by federal and state governments
The results of last year’s November/December Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations recently released by the National Examinations Council (NECO), has once again exposed the precarious state of education in Nigeria. The registrar of the 13-year-old examination body, Professor Promise Okpala, who announced the performance of the candidates said only 33 per cent of the 83, 755 candidates who sat for the English Language paper passed at the required credit level. By the result, given the condition that only candidates who obtain credit passes in five subjects including English Language and Mathematics could gain admission to universities in Nigeria, only 25, 628 of the candidates could achieve their dream this year.
Many young men and women who sat the NECO December examinations have been repeatedly disappointed owing to failure in one or two of the core subjects. This is more so for science students who may not be particularly good at the English language. While the performance in Mathematics, another general core subject, was above the 50 per cent mark, it was not so in the sciences. In Physics, less than one per cent of the 35,000 who sat the examination passed at credit level. Mathematics did not give us a cause for cheer. Only 15 per cent passed while in Chemistry it was 35 per cent.
If the results had been inconsistent with the pattern in recent years, it would not call for consternation, but results from NECO and the sister examination body, the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), over the past five years show that there has been a steady decline in the quality of education offered at all levels.
The nation was first jolted to this reality when, in 2009, 98 per cent of the 234,682 candidates failed to make five credits, including English and Mathematics. Mind-boggling was the level of malpractices as 236,613 cases were recorded that year. It was expected that all stakeholders would be pushed to action and achieve a reversal of the trend within years. The latest results have confirmed that not much has been achieved.
The failure of our teeming youths is the failure of government. Things have been kept at the same level, little has been done to upgrade facilities in public secondary schools and make teaching attractive for prospective students and applicants. The profession has become a fall-back for those who failed to gain the attention of other employers.
Private schools of other shapes and descriptions have since sprung up to fill the vacuum. Even in this wise, there is an obvious failure of supervision and monitoring that has also led to poor performance in external examinations.
Desperate students have thus resorted to abusing and subverting the process. Sometimes aided by parents and teachers, especially in private schools, the candidates do everything to have advance copies of examination papers or pay others to either sit for or assist them in the examination centres. No nation hoping to bridge the development gap between the first and third world could afford such neglect of the education sector.
We call on governments at federal, state and local levels to take urgent, coordinated and concerted steps in adequately funding education. We must go beyond holding workshops and jamborees ostensibly to review laws and rules regulating education in the country. As a first step, funding must improve. While the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has recommended that all governments allocate a minimum of 26 per cent of their budgets to education, the Federal Government has consistently voted below 10 per cent in the past 13 years.
Policy inconsistency resulting from change of ministers has not helped matters. Eight ministers have taken charge in the ministry since 1999. Professors Tunde Adeniran, Babalola Borishade, Fabian Osuji, Dr. Chinwe Obaji, Oby Ezekwesili, Igwe Aja Nwachukwu, Sam Egwu and Ruqayattu Rufai came up sometimes with contrasting policy thrusts.
It must be realised that development in all sectors is hinged on the quality of education and no country can advance without paying special attention to the needs of the youth.
JD:This is a beautiful editorial written by THE NATION.Education is the bedrock of development and we seem to be handling it in a lackadasical manner.it appears all our leaders efforts are gered to just staying in power and lining their pockets with ill gotten wealth.this attitude is not going to get us anywhere .For example the governments in the North hsve finally woken up to the fact that its the lack of provision of quality education in the north that has not only been a stumbling block to the region’s development,but is also the underlying factor for the variuos crisis being experienced in the region.