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Recurring mass failure in WASSCE, why?

For three successive years, the poor performance of candidates in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) has been of great concern in the country. The recurring mass failure of our students in the critical examination is a damning verdict on the standard of education at the secondary school level in the country. The 2014 May/June WASSCE result announced by the West African Examination Council (WAEC), last week, is yet another confirmation that secondary school education in Nigeria is badly in need of intervention to improve students’ academic performance.

Figures released by Head of WAEC National office in Lagos, Mr. Charles Eguridu, showed that only 529,425 candidates out of 1,692,435, representing 31.28 percent, obtained credits in five subjects and above including English Language and Mathematics, in the examination. This number consists of 929,075 male and 763,360 female candidates, who sat for the examination. A total of 1,605,613 candidates, representing 94.87 percent have their results fully released, while 86,822 candidates, representing 5.13 per cent have some of their subjects still being processed, due to what WAEC said were errors traceable to the candidates and their schools, either in the course of registration or writing the examination. The results of 145,795 candidates, or 9.61 percent of those who sat for the examination, are being withheld as a result of various types of examination malpractice. The candidates need credits in five subjects, including Mathematics and English Language, to gain admission into many of the tertiary institutions in the country.

The 2014 May/June result is a steep decline from those of the past two years. For instance, in the 2012 WASSCE result, 38.81 per cent of the candidates obtained credits in five subjects and above, including English Language and Mathematics. In 2013, the percentage declined to 36.57 percent, and fell further to 31.28 in the latest examination. Statistics from WAEC also show that the declining performance also applies to the November/December WASSCE, in which woeful performances were also recorded in the last three years.

It is lamentable that the performance of candidates in both WASSCE and the National Examination Council (NECO) examination is not improving, even though the problem has been on for many years now. This latest result is an indication that whatever is being done by the nation’s education authorities to improve the situation is not yielding the desired result. The latest dismal result should be another wakeup call on the state and federal governments, as well as parents, teachers and students, on the need to tackle the problem headlong. The poor performance of candidates, especially in the core subject areas of English Language and Mathematics, is worrisome.

Consequently, there is a need for renewed focus on education by all stakeholders. Many factors are responsible for the lacklustre performance of our students in this important examination. The factors, which range from poor funding and inadequate infrastructural facilities, to poor teacher motivation and students’ disinterest in learning, are all too well known to the nation’s education authorities. What is required is the will to seriously tackle these problems, because this sad development can seriously affect the kind of leaders Nigeria will produce in future.

Government at all levels should lead the way with interventions such as the allocation of higher percentages of their budgets to education. Government is far from meeting the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recommendation of 26 percent of annual national budgets to the education sector. Special emphasis should be placed on provision of quality teaching materials, the establishment of well-equipped public schools and proper remuneration of teachers. At present, all levels of government in the country have looked away from education. There should also be encouragement of a reading culture among students. It is disheartening that many students pay scant attention to their books. They prefer to focus on the social media and other leisure activities such as music and comedy, with an eye on immediate monetary reward. The zeal for learning has waned among our youths, and this does not augur well for the development of the country.

There is no doubt that the teaching profession is, today, a sorry figure. Many teachers are not proud of the profession and are no longer serious about teaching. School facilities, especially those of public schools, are in a shambles. To redress the situation and improve candidates’ performance in future WASSCEs, all hands must be on deck.

Saving secondary school education in Nigeria should not be left to the government alone. We urge corporate organisations to show more interest in education, by investing heavily in the sector. Currently, many corporation organisations with huge revenue pay more attention to promotion of music, dancing, “talent hunts” and other leisure activities, instead of education that would have greater impact on overall human development of the country.

Altogether, the recent WASSCE result is a sad reflection of the decaying Nigerian society. The blame should go round. While we implore students to take their studies seriously, parents should also not be too busy to pay attention to their children’s academic work.

It is time to stop playing politics with education in Nigeria. The time has come to break the jinx of unending poor performance in WASSCE. Government should declare an emergency in the education sector.
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Hey, I'am Babanature. A webdesigner, blogspot developer, UI/UX Designer and entertainment personality. I'am also a business speaker, marketer, Blogger and Javascript Programmer.

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