Monday, 5th June 2023

Expert faults long years of testing students’ ability using alternative to practical method

By Ujunwa Atueyi
07 March 2019   |   4:17 am
Chief Executive Officer of Infographics Limited, Mr. Chinenye Mba-Uzokwu, has frowned at the teaching; learning and assessment methodology currently in use in most schools...


Chief Executive Officer of Infographics Limited, Mr. Chinenye Mba-Uzokwu, has frowned at the teaching; learning and assessment methodology currently in use in most schools, saying for four decades, Nigerian schools have been doing ‘alternative to practical’ during examination, instead of the real practical.

Mba-Uzoukwu lamented that a lot of issues are adversely affecting the country’s education system from elementary to tertiary, with stakeholders playing the blame game and holding no one accountable.

He stated that every course or subject of study has an outline on how best it will be delivered to learners, adding that anything short of that guideline will not achieve the expected result.

Till date, Nigerian students are still doing alternative to practical examination, as introduced in the West African Examination Council (WAEC) syllabus, instead of doing the actual practical.

In most Nigerian schools and colleges, lack of functional labs, technicians and equipment make it difficult for science students to carry out practicals.

Faulting the long-years of using alternative to practical to teach and test students’ scientific knowledge, Mba-Uzoukwu in a chat with The Guardian said, “There are certain things students are supposed to learn and be taught. For a student who is studying Chemistry, it may be that such a course requires six sessions in a laboratory, and the laboratory requires certain experiments and the experiments require certain types of materials and reagents. Are those things available in our schools? If they are not, then learning has not taken place, and those children are not learning.

“We are approaching our 40th year of doing something they call ‘alternative to practical.’ When secondary school students are taught Chemistry without entering a laboratory. They have never seen or open a Bunsen burner; they have never carried out single Chemistry experiment in a lab. And during examination, we give them alternative to practical where they see a drawing of Bunsen burner and other diagrams. They don’t see the experimental activities, the reactions and the magic of that titration burning happening and the conversion taken place. The objective of that course or subject has not been achieved.

He continued, “But we have done this for four decades, and those children will proceed to study medicine in the university and we expect to have quality doctors in the end. So we have to return to ask ourselves these questions: can we afford 50 faculties of Medicine in Nigeria or should we have 10 and concentrate all our resources in making sure those 10 are well equipped so that we can produce quality products?

Speaking on the need to restore stability in the public sector of the country’s education to make them at par with their private counterparts, the information technology expert said people must be made accountable in their respective roles, else the entire challenges confronting the sector will persist.

“If the public sector does not perform in the entire education system, the only actor to be held responsible is the student. They are blamed for poor performance; inability to secure a job, and for virtually everything that seems not to be working well.

“Who else is held accountable for failure of education? How do you hold the president, governor of each state, the commissioner, the principal and teachers accountable for the failure of education? Everyone has a tale to tell, with key stakeholders defending and pushing blames to schools, teachers and students. We must find a way of holding other stakeholders accountable. Yes, people’s job might be affected, but how do we ensure that the system is effective if we don’t do it?” Mba-Uzoukwu queried.