NECO: A home-grown exam body’s scorecard
This was in response to public outcry against the ever-increasing problems associated with the conduct of public examinations in the country.
Although it was established in 1999, its enabling Act was passed and signed into law in 2002.
NECO today is the only home-grown public examination body in Nigeria charged with the onerous task of conducting the school based Senior School Certificate Examinations (SSCE).
It also conducts the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) for Junior Secondary Schools as well as the National Common Entrance Examination into Federal Government Colleges in the country.
The Council is presently under the leadership of Professor Charles B.U. Uwakwe, who was appointed Registrar/Chief Executive of the Council on 1st April 2015.
It is on record that on assumption of office, Professor Uwakwe undertook a critical review and assessment of the activities of NECO and thereafter initiated policies and programmes that has brought about real change and positive turn around in the Council.
His first task on assumption of duties was the initiation of “NECO Ethos” This was geared towards enhancing staff orientation, attitude to work and service delivery.
The Ethos are hinged on: professionalism, service delivery, Punctuality/timeliness, Client Satisfaction, Precise and Accurate information, Good Attitude, Integrity, Commitment, Zero Tolerance for Impunity and Excellence.
The 10 point Ethos was a reflection of Professor Uwakwe’s determination to start on a solid footing and charting a direction for himself and staff of the Council. The goal was to bring NECO to global standard and best practises in line with global trends in educational assessment.
Professor Uwakwe has personally applied himself to ensuring that the driving principles of his 10-point NECO Ethos are vigorously adhered to.
He not only preach the Ethos but is guided by them. He believes they are the bedrock of building a team of dedicated and committed staff who share a common vision for the examination body.
This obviously, is in line with his belief and determination to provide a valid and reliable assessment platform for students’ performance, and also keeping in view the need to assure stakeholders in education to continue to see examination as a reliable means of restructuring and national development.
Staff welfare has been a major concern of the Registrar since assumption of office. Professor Uwakwe has demonstrated his commitment to staff welfare and development not just by words of mouth but by action.
His first major task in this direction was by undertaking a timely and transparent conduct of two promotion exercises which were devoid of the rancour and bitterness usually associated with such exercises.
He also introduced equity and fairness in the posting of staff to out of station assignments.
It is also to his credit that all staff entitlements are regularly and timely paid.
On assumption of office, professor Uwakwe promised that the only way to maintain staff integrity and that of the Council when they are out on official assignment was to ensure that all entitlement were promptly computed paid. This promise has been kept in full.
Prompt payment of allowances to Examiners and other ad-hoc staff engaged by the Council has also witnessed a boost. This has largely invigorated staff motivation and dedication to assigned duties.
Professor Uwakwe has left no one in doubt as someone who takes responsive action when needed.
This he demonstrated with the prompt appointment of a Director of Human Resources Management Department, a position that has been vacant for over a year before he assumed office, and caused several bickering and hiccups in the Council.
Equally under his watch, three new departments and a directorate were created with the appointment of Directors to oversee them for greater staff mobility and service delivery.
These departments are: Psychometrics, General services, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the Directorate of Special Duties, in the office of the Registrar.
It is also worthy of note that under the able leadership of Professor Uwakwe, the Council has witnessed the provision of befitting accommodation for staff across the country. Specifically, staff accommodation has been provided in the FCT, Delta, Rivers, and Part Harcourt.
Other states that have benefited from the provision of staff accommodation also include: Cross Rivers Enugu, Bauchi, Kano and Lagos.
The Council under the leadership of Professor Uwakwe has also undertaken, comprehensive renovation of its offices in Adamawa, Zamfara, Osun, Adamawa, Gusau, and Oshogbo.
Perimeter fencing was done at the Oyo state office in Ibadan as well as NECO warehouse in Minna to safeguard Council vehicles and other items, which could be the target of vandals.
Additionally, an administrative block was constructed at NECO headquarters in Minna.
There is also the installation of solar streetlights at the Council’s headquarters to improve security at night.
It is also on record that the Registrar ensured that the Council’s Headquarters was linked to the National Power Grid after seven years of reliance solely on alternative power sources.
This feat was achieved in July 2017. A feat that has significantly reduced the amount of money spent on fuelling and servicing of generators, and also allowed for a better working environment for staff of the Council.
Perhaps a major achievement of the Council in line with its critical mandate is its commitment to the timely release of results. The administration of professor Uwakwe is to be commended for this feat.
This has been the case since his assumption of office in 2016. This feat has been followed with significant improvement in candidate’s performance.
Additionally, the Council under the watch of professor Uwakwe has witnessed the development of a new BECE syllabus and a new grading format which was approved by the Honourable minister of education and took effect in the 2017 edition of the examination.
The Council also scored a major achievement by successfully conducting the 2017 March accreditation and re-accreditation of schools for BECE and SSCE examination.
Also worthy of note is the successful, Trail Testing by the Council to determine the Psychrometric properties of test items which was successfully and randomly sampled across the six geopolitical zones in the country.
The story of NECO and its achievements is a continuously developing one and cannot be completely told in one piece.
Perhaps, the greatest achievement of NECO is that it has provided hope to thousands of candidates who have been able to keep their matriculation dates because of the timely release of their results.
Consequently, many Nigerians now have the opportunity to contribute to the development of their nation and the feeling of wellbeing that results from this sense of actualization is difficult to quantify in concrete terms.
It must also be stated that by its activities NECO has allowed for a reduction in the number of potential sources of instability in the community especially by youths who ordinarily would not have been able to feel a sense of satisfaction and progress in their lives.
Furthermore, whatever contribution these vibrant segment of our population are able to bring back in the form of economic activity is a potential generator of wealth for the nation.
Consequently, the dividends of NECO stretch well beyond the horizon of testing, measurement or evaluation. They touch thousands of Nigerian lives and do so for the better. That, perhaps, is the greatest achievement of NECO.
The coming of Professor Charles Uwakwe to NECO has brought visible changes to the examination body. The erudite scholar and astute administrator has proven to stakeholders that his past record of achievements are no fluke.
His track record of achievements is self-evident in the successes he has recorded across board in the management of the Examination Council since his assumption of office.
Professor Charles B. U. Uwakwe was born on 22nd September, 1957. He had his first degree, B.Ed. Guidance and Counseling from the University of Ibadan.
His thirst for further studies took him back to the University where he had his M.Ed. Guidance and Counseling in1981, in 1984, at the same university, he got his Ph.D. in Counseling/Education Psychology.
Professor Charles B.U. Uwakwe is an erudite scholar with over twenty –eight years of university teaching, research and consulting experience in counseling, educational and health psychology.
He has taught Counseling Psychology courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels both within and outside the shores of Nigeria and has spent greater part of his academic career at the University of Ibadan.
He laced this within international experience having spent two and half years at the University of Botswana, Gaborone between 1999 and 2001 as well as several years at UNESCO Regional Office in Dakar, Senegal as a consultant.
Professor Uwakwe is one of the leading authorities in Counselling and Health Psychology.
He has a lot of works to his credit in local and international journals. He has attended and presented papers in several conferences across the globe.
He has also attended, anchored and facilitated scores of capacity building/training workshops in Nigeria and other parts of the world.
He is currently the Chairperson of the national Task team on HIV Counselling and Testing Services in Nigeria.
Professor Uwakwe is happily married and the marriage is blessed with children.
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