West African Examination Council recently informed the populace of the mass failure of students in the last examinations. The percentage seems unstable, from 38.81 percent in 2012, 36.37 percent in 2013, and 31.28 percent in 2014 to 38.68 percent in 2015. Although the 2016 WAEC showed signs of improvement with 29 percent fails, it still doesn’t go unnoticed that the Nigerian education system is getting porous with failures which has plagued it for some years now.
People have various views on who to put the blame on. The school, students and even the examination bodies are but a few of those blamed. Instead of the blame game, the reasons why these repeated failures are encountered should be highlighted and tackled.
You can’t blame a student for failing if he is taught by unqualified teachers. Majority of the teachers in our schools are not qualified for their job specification. When these people are the ones imparting the knowledge they hardly know, the quality of the students they produce should indeed be questionable.
These unqualified teachers are consciously employed because of the lesser salary paid them, compared to their qualified counterparts. This encourages a laissez-faire attitude towards school work from both the teacher and the student. When both teacher and student do not care about what happens in the academic environment, the student is bound to fail due to lack of preparations.
Also the teaching skills employed when learning equally matters. You can’t use a native language to teach basic subjects like the sciences and English, when it is obvious that the examinations will be written in Standard English. How do expect a student to comfortably write an exam that he was mostly taught in Igbo, Hausa or Yoruba? Many of the words will likely seem strange to him, because they were hardly used in the classroom. In trying to be one step ahead due to a poor hold on vocabulary and an inability to grasp the meaning of the words used in the sentences, the candidate resorts to cramming in order to pass examinations.
Furthermore, the learning environment of every school contributes to the performance of its students, greatly. When a school is located in a noisy, unhealthy, or unsafe environment, the students tend to perform poorly as learning also requires mental stability. A student will find it difficult to concentrate in a noisy environment; neither will the student calmly listen to what the teacher has to say when he is feeling unsafe or unhealthy due to a dangerous or dirty surrounding.
Absence of strict learning conditions makes negative impacts on students’ results. When students play truancy, sleep during classes or teachers do not show up for their classes, students’ failure is inevitable. Therefore, in order to make up for lost time, they recommend miracle centres and pre-plan for examination malpractice.
Poor or lack of enlightenment programmes or seminars by the national examination bodies in inculcating the importance of studying and the dangers of malpractices to prospective candidates further worsens the preparedness of students for national examinations. Not forgetting the discouraging activities of the tertiary institutions in relation to admittance into schools and the instability of the school calendar.
Nonetheless, while there seem to be an unending list of reasons why students continuously fail WAEC, NECO and so on, every problem definitely has its solution. The educational institutions in the country have always cried out over the repeated mass failure of secondary school students in national examinations, but have never actively taken measures in curbing the ugly trend.
The national bodies, WAEC, NECO etc should set up enlightenment workshops at all levels to ensure every school has an idea of how they work. Their syllabus, making scheme, penalties for examination malpractice should be made known to every school and every candidate.
Another way to reduce failure is to evaluate schools months before the examinations are taken. This development will make the students face the reality of the exams and sit up. The presence of a WAEC official will have more influence on a student than a teacher who he is familiar with. The presence of the official will definitely serve as a wakeup call for the students.
Also, the education ministry should emphasize on a clean, safe and quiet environment for learning and strict measures should be put in place to ensure that instructions are followed accordingly.
Dearth in the reading culture of students should be addressed through reading groups, class readings and constant assignments. Teachers should create an opportunity where students get to defend their assignments and what they have been taught thus far.
Miracle centres should be fished out and closed up. So are schools that endorse malpractice. For instance, a school that pays examination officials to allow their students copy from textbooks or information sources should be charged with malpractice offence and made to face the music, to serve as a deterrent for others.
Schools should emphasize the importance of studying ahead of examinations rather than encouraging them to cram or commit malpractice offences. Unqualified teachers should be flushed out from the school system and laissez-faire attitude stamped out.
For almost a decade, the media have made the failures of secondary school students front page and headline news stories. This is not something we should ignore or be allowed to be pushed to the background. People should show concern and help in whatever means to stop this trend as the education system is the future of the country in all spheres. Ranging from rural to urban development, economic, social, cultural and every other sector of the country.

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