Unreliability of most results and danger of reliance on them
Nigeria, place of pride, the giant of Africa, a land flowing with milk and honey, a corrupt nation. A nation where excellence is based on performance as seen in a result and not necessarily based on what one has upstairs.
A nation where many youths are unemployed, not because there is unemployment, but because they are unemployable. A nation where many seek to rely on what is unreliable as standard of perfection and preeminence. This is the reality we face in Nigeria.
When I was 15, I wrote my first WAEC examination. Then, I was in SS2. I was still a normal student in my real school, but turned out to be a finalist in a different school where I took the exam. The truth is that I did the exam against my will because I was forced into it on the premise of ‘that’s the norm.’ The aura in the market place is much more preferable that the one in the exam hall.
Everyone had the latitude to walk around and consult as many materials as they want to find answers to the questions brought out. To tell you how bad it was, this was done in the presence of WAEC examiners. I tried to maintain my integrity, but I was stained with the blood of the system and I used the same pool of blood to wash my stain.
In that same examination hall, where everyone was busy walking around consulting textbooks, there was a particular lady, a daughter of one of the teachers in that school who was different. She never stood up from her sit but was relaxed because she was certain that she would not be passed by. Her difference was based on the fact that she was given preferential treatment by her father who was the registrar of the school as well as a genius many speak of.
Her dad would make sure that for every single question, the right answer was supplied. He even got experts in fields like Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry to solve technical questions which would later be downloaded by her daughter to her answer script.
Few months later, the result was released precisely in August 2012. The best turned out to be the lady who was the smartest in the exam hall. The best was not based on excellence but to what extent one was able to go in his or her evil way to achieve what he or she desired.
My result wasn’t a surprise to me; it was what I expected – an average result with 8 Cs and a D in Literature and that wouldn’t get me anywhere because I wanted to study Law and as a necessary prerequisite is at least a credit in English and Literature. The point is the exam was a waste but the experience was a good taste.
I remained the best student in the Department of Arts in my real school and I was determined to come out in flying colours in the next WAEC examination I would take. One thing that was very unique in that school was that no form of examination malpractice was tolerated. Everyone knew that. That had been the system and the norm and that would still be the norm when I would write my exam. This single act made the school notorious throughout the city, to the extent that examiners would grumble, according to a reliable source, when posted to the school to invigilate because they knew that cheap crumbs won’t be got.
In the penultimate year of my secondary school, we were 150 plus, but surprisingly, just like what Gideon experienced in the Bible, we got reduced to 46. Others who lacked the capacity to get themselves examined…went to miracle centres where the result would be given without the test or examination. And there was a standing rule then that any centre that did not have up to 50 candidates would pay a fine of N30, 000 to the board. The fine was paid by the school for the sake of maintaining her integrity.
Few months later after the exam, the result was released. Many who went to miracle centres bagged As which they never worked for, in at least four subjects, while many that really explored their brain, time and resources had just an average result. What an error! Some might be of the opinion that the average result was as a result of lack of adequate preparation.
But such may not be true as I was a victim of circumstance. I love Literature so much to the extent that my teacher would leave it to me to handle, and my classmates would pay rapt attention because of the lessons to learn or knowledge to gain from such tutorials. But on that fateful day, the invigilator came late claiming that she was caught up in traffic, and after the commencement of the exam, stopped us 40 minutes behind schedule claiming that she would be questioned if she arrived at the venue where submission was to be made late. We were helpless. Out of the 13 students that wrote that exam, I was the only one who passed and mine was a narrow escape. So would you call that Lack of preparation?
JAMB is another examination which is not to be trusted absolutely because of its poor organisation structure and management. Many can testify to the fact that they got at least two results released by JAMB with the same name and examination number.
Dear reader, if you go for a test to determine your genotype and different results were released with the same blood sample, wouldn’t you doubt the potency of the test? Such is it with The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board. This has to be addressed.
The National Examination Council (NECO) is not to be mentioned at all when it comes to poor organisation, management and supervision. Little wonder many take it with levity. One of the professors of Mathematics I really admire once recounted, “I can never allow my children to check their NECO exam result because it’s nothing to write about.”
One annoying thing that pricks my heart and that needs urgent attention is that most educational bodies, companies, organisations, institutions or other agencies wishing to help or assist students or people generally, rely on these results as the criteria to select those who are needed. This should be stopped or at least absolute reliance on them should be discouraged. What then should be done in order to address this issue? UI is a perfect example of an answer to this question.
Formerly, the institution based her criteria of admission on O’level which was 60 per cent and JAMB 40 per cent, but now, what the institution now does is to shortlist those who made the average score of 200 in JAMB and thereafter invite them to partake in an exam conducted by the school itself. Every form of issue or mistake arising will also affect the institution and not just the students.
Recently, I read an online article published in the university’s website on why the school decided to change her method of admitting new students. There, it was stated that the change was effected as a result of an encounter the university, through her panel conducting interview for aspirants, had with one of them. This particular lady had been called for the interview because she met the requirements. In fact, she had seven As in WAEC, but when asked to give the meaning of GDP, she couldn’t supply the right answer.
A prospective Economics student found wanting in the knowledge of GDP! Now tell me, how did she make an A in Economics without knowing the meaning of GDP? Your guess is as good as mine.
What most of these scholarship boards or organisations do is to open the floor to as many people as are interested in applying, and thereafter shortlist them, based on their previous performances as seen in their results (WAEC, NECO and JAMB). Others even have more stringent rules by limiting the opportunity to those with excellent results. An example is the Federal Government Scholarship Bilateral Agreement. It is written boldly on the board’s website that candidates must possess A or B in at least five relevant subjects including English and Mathematics.
Logically, those who have four Bs and Cs are automatically disqualified from applying. They presume that such results are valid and reliable, whereas the reverse has to be the case, until the contrary is proved by conducting an exam where every applicant, irrespective of his grade, will have an equal chance of proving his or her worth.
This article is a call on most scholarship boards, companies, institutions and organisations to stop using results from WAEC, JAMB, NECO or other external bodies conducting exams as the only basis of application or standard of brilliance. Even if such is to be done, it should be done with all sense of fairness by giving everyone who made an average result (at least five credits in relevant subjects in WAEC or NECO and at least 200 in JAMB) the opportunity to apply for such and thereafter should conduct an internal examination for the applicants which will be used as the ultimate criteria. This is because, as pointed out earlier, most of these examinations bodies are unreliable and putting reliance on what is unreliable is as good as building a house without foundation. Besides, it is submitted that such an act is using the past to judge the present—a true mark of stagnation.
• Adeyemi is a 300 level student, University of Ibadan. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org