By BUKOLADEREMI LADIGBOLU
The results recently released by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, and National Examinations Council, NECO, have become a source of serious concern for many people. Without mincing words, the results pointed in one direction: the standard of education has fallen badly.
The development is worrisome and a dangerous signal for the future of our youths who are the hope of this great nation.
If the truth must be said, the mass failure was an accident waiting to happen; it was not a sudden development. It was indeed a confirmation of the rot in the system, since the government is not keen on improving the education sector.
It should be noted that NECO gives a real picture of students’ performance than JAMB. At inception, NECO was praised by many people because of the high rate of successes recorded by students. But the NECO results released within four consecutive years showed a mass failure in the council’s May/June exams. The last results in particular show that less than 10 per cent made the credit level in English Language, 15,669 or 14.15 per cent of them recorded passes while 75,353 or 68.06 per cent failed.
In Mathematics, of the 110,590 that registered, 43,547 or 41.19 per cent had credit and above and 10,328 or 9.34 per cent got ordinary pass. On the average, 90 per cent of candidates who sat for the 2011 November/December Senior School Certificate Examinations of NECO failed the examination.
In a related development, JAMB/UTME results released recently indicated that 1,503,931 candidates were registered for the 2012 exam. According to Dibu Ojerinde, JAMB registrar, 602,055 or 40 per cent scored above 200 out of 400 marks; 601,151 got between 200 and 249; 901 scored 270-299; 336,330 scored below 170; 374,920 candidates scored between 170 and 199 while only three students scored above 300. Twenty seven thousand, two hundred and sixty-six candidates had their results withheld for alleged malpractices.
This year recorded the highest number of registered candidates since the existence of JAMB. Imo State had the highest number of candidates with 123,865; Delta State, 88,879; Anambra State, 84,204; Sokoto State, 5,664; Zamfara State, 5,713; and Abuja recorded the lowest with 3,380 registered candidates.
It is unfortunate that a majority of our students no longer believe in burning the midnight candle, they believe in short cuts and investing in devices such as orijo, ‘expo’, ‘chips’ and other malpractices in funny names and slangs to pass their exams.
Unfortunately, it appears the influx of mobile technology has worsened the already bad situation. Students now embrace more sophisticated ways of cheating: answers are stored in handsets stuffed in sandals, as was the case in the last JAMB examination during which two mobile handsets embedded in sandals were discovered in separate locations in the country. Also, 24 other mobile phones were confiscated from candidates from across the country during the examination. It is pathetic to see students engrossed in social media networks such as Facebook instead of reading their books. Countless students, instead of using social media positively towards improving their skills and academics, chat endlessly on their mobile phones. For some others, the time they should devote to research and studying is spent on watching pornographic videos and the like.
Quite embarrassingly, some mischievous students use the Internet to settle scores and ridicule an erring friend by posting the latter’s nude pictures on the net whenever there is a disagreement. Mobile technology that should be a blessing has been turned to a burden.
The problem of mass failure is not restricted to misuse of mobile technology alone. Some parents are alleged to be involved in aiding their kids in buying question papers and bribing invigilators. Some even go as far as looking for the so-called special or miracle centres where their wards pass without sweat. Success is automatic in such centres. Charity, they say, begins at home. It is therefore very sad when parents begin to aid and abet cheating. Youths are no longer encouraged to study their books because manna falls from heaven in their various examination halls.
Nigerians must join hands to ensure that set standard is met in the education sector. The Examination Malpractices Act No. 33 of 1999 stipulates a minimum fine of N50,000 or a maximum of five years’ imprisonment without option of fine. It appears the provisions of this law are only observed in their breach.
The government should be interested in restoring the quality of education all over the country. It is shameful that in this time and age, some secondary school students still don’t know what a biology laboratory looks like! Do you blame them? It is because the government has not been doing much in the area of providing facilities and upgrading existing ones. In addition to the factors mentioned above, lack of environment conducive to learning and the depreciating quality of teachers have also been responsible for poor performance. Teachers no longer have zeal and passion for what they do since they are not well paid and they believe there is need to get their rewards here on earth rather than in heaven. They too want to ride good cars and build houses.
This is a plea to the government, parents, teachers and students: let us jointly restore the quality of education to meet set standards. This is a sector where it should no longer be business as usual. Nigerian youths are intelligent and hardworking, and they must be encouraged. Determination, coupled with hard work, will yield the desired result. This is the time to bring about a positive change. It is possible.