Last week, the National Examination Council (NECO) released the November/December 2010 General Certificate of Education examination results. It turned out to be the same old story of mass failure and cancellation of several candidates' results. Promise Okpala, the registrar of the examination body, stated that, of the 256,827 candidates that sat for the examination, only 20.161 per cent passed English Language, while 34.1 percent passed Mathematics.
The West African Examination Council (WAEC) had, in December, released the results of a similar examination, with the same mass failure story. According to Iyi Uwadiae, the Head of the Nigerian national office of WAEC, out of the 310,077 candidates that sat for the examination, only 20.04 percent achieved the required number of credits for university admission. These dismal results are a clear indication of what many of us already know: that something is definitely wrong within our education system.
When there were mass failures in the Senior School Certificate Examinations of 2010, the National Assembly invited the heads of WAEC and NECO to come and give explanations for the failures. It is still unclear how explanations from the two examination bodies would have given the lawmakers a clearer picture of why the candidates failed. Our federal government has still not provided a guarantee, as recommended by UNESCO, that 26 percent of its annual budget will be allocated to education.
The past year saw a series of strikes by school teachers across the country. The newly-introduced Universal Basic Education programme of the federal government is not yet fully functional; still to be accepted by all states of the federation. Books are expensive or non-existent. Parents are harried over economic issues. Why, then should anyone wonder that our children keep failing so badly. In addition, many children do not really see the point in hard work, believing they might not get a job with a certificate, and thinking of joining politics or crime to make it more easily. A re-orientation will help, plus more activity on the job creation front.
Our young people also seem to have lost confidence in the system. Mr. Uwadiae pointed out that 16.73 percent of the candidates who took last year's WAEC examination, had their results withheld for various reasons, including alleged examination malpractices - a common feature of examination results released over the years. With the high number of unemployed graduates roaming the streets, it appears that students are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that they do not end up the same way. Reports show that even parents and teachers are, unfortunately complicit in these malpractices.
As we elect new leaders during the forthcoming elections, let us look out for those who will be able to address our mass failure issues. The newly-elected leaders themselves, should also bear these stories firmly in mind. This will save us from a generation who are experts in Facebook, Twitter and Skype, but who cannot write a simple grammatically correct sentence - either in English nor in their local languages. Mr. Okpala's result breakdown also shows that, of the 12,958 candidates that sat for Igbo, for example, 1,211 had their results withheld because of examination malpractices, while 8,745 failed.