Tuesday, 16 September 2014

SSCE Mass Failure: Only 31 Per Cent Pass With 5 Credits And Above

HAVE Nigerians accepted mass failures in secondary school examinations? Mass failures no longer produce shocks or the sort of debates predicated on concerns about a fractured future.

The West Africa Examination Council, WAEC, has released its 2014 May/June 2014 Senior Secondary Schools Certificate Examination, SSCE, results.   The 31.28 per cent pass in five subjects or more, including English and Mathematics (1,692,435 candidates sat for the examination), was a drop in 38.81 per cent recorded in 2012 and 36.57 per cent in 2013.

Fluctuations in the performances of our children pale in importance when compared to the attention we give elections, revenue allocation, security, and health scares like Ebola.

In 2011 when 98 per cent of the candidates did not make the grades, there were no alarms. The examinations are treated like most national issues, rituals with regular places on the calendar. Nobody is interested in how the outcomes affect our future.

We are watching a skewed “tomorrow” forming before us. We are immersed in today, especially sharing of revenue from oil and gas, which are for immediate consumption.

For a country that lives only in the present, elections are more rewarding than whether other peoples’ children pass or fail examinations.

Do children of policy makers attend the schools their policies ruin? Things can change when the misrule of our leaders affect them.

Our schools are steeped in chaos. Many lack facilities, instructional materials and trained teachers. The poor foundations are laid at the primary school level. Education’s lengthy bureaucracies consume allocations to it. There are minimal investments in training of teachers and infrastructure to support their work. Long months of school closures over teachers’ agitations for better remunerations, or registration of voters, affect quality of instructions students receive.

Well-established private schools make the point that qualified teachers, infrastructure and instructional aids are critical to success. The private educational system benefits from the failure of public schools and the patronage of government officials and politicians.

Time is overdue for governments – federal, state and local – to evaluate our educational policies. Current damage is deep with inadequate thought given to frequent policy changes. Concerns for the future are based on fears that the failure rate will worsen unless it is addressed drastically.

A return to orderliness in our public schools would be a vital first step. Governments should invest more in the present and future of our education, particularly in infrastructure, teaching and learning aids and the development of teachers.

The examination results are indicators of failed policies. Solutions lie in correcting these policies, in addition to initiating ones that would improve our education. One such policy would be one that would attract more qualified people to teach.

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