Nigeria’s basic education on the ascendancy

Katherine Baffour 4 years ago 3

In recent years, the release of results of the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education, SSCE, conducted by the West African Examination Council, WAEC, and the National Examination Council, NECO have been greeted by outrage from stakeholders in the education sector. The reason for the outrage is not far-fetched. The percentage failure was on the high side.

The percentage pass in the number of candidates who score five credits, including English Language and Mathematics, has become a generally accepted mode of measuring success in public examinations in the country. Though this is not entirely correct, to the general public, it is a way of gauging the standard of education in the country.

Last year, when WAEC released the results of the May/June SSCE written by internal candidates, Nigerians naturally expressed their displeasure with the percentage pass. For that year, the percentage pass of students who scored five credits, including English Language and Mathematics stood at 31%.

It was also after the release of the 2011 May/June results by WAEC that the Minister of State for Education, Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, took a transparent action of bringing the WAEC Head of National Office, HNO, Dr Iyi Uwadiae, to explain to members of the public why two different sets of results were released. The inquiry was conducted in the public with members of the media in attendance. The issues were resolved in favour of the Nigerian educational system. The take-away from that inquiry was that nobody would be spared if the public examination architecture is negatively compromised. The four WAEC staff found to be complicit in that error faced commensurate disciplinary measures.

The May/June results for 2012 have been released by WAEC. Though it is not yet celebration time, there has been a marked improvement in the percentage of the number of candidates who passed with five credits, including English Language and Mathematics. This year’s percentage stands at 38.81. Several perceptive public commentators and stakeholders have commended this percentage growth in the WAEC results.

Announcing the release of the 2012 results, Head, National Office of the Council, Dr. Iyi Uwadaie commented that the results show a marked improvement in candidates’ performance of the 2010 and 2011 WASSCE.

The marked improvement in the 2012 WAEC results as released is the outcome of series of investments by the Federal Government in the basic education sub-sector. These investments have been supported by a dedicated supervision of all the agencies and parastatals running the basic education sub-sector. The supervision of this sub-sector comes under the purview of the Minister of State for Education, Wike.

Commenting on the improvement witnessed in the recent WAEC results, Wike noted that the nation would in the coming years witness more improvements in the sector. He said that the benefits of the programmes and projects being implemented by the Jonathan administration will completely manifest progressively.

He said though the nation is yet to get to the Promised Land as regards basic education development, it was surely on the path of recovery. The Minister noted that the percentage improvement in WAEC passes will continue due to the related developments in teaching and learning across the country.

It is imperative to point out some of these programmes and projects that have impacted positively on the nation’s basic education sub-sector.

In the last one year, the Federal Government has trained more than 500,000 teachers in public primary and secondary schools and basic education managers across the country. To achieve this feat, the Federal Ministry of Education and her agencies have collaborated with State Ministries of Education and other agencies to drive the training programmes in the respective states.

Under the watch of Wike, the State Ministries of Education and education agencies of the respective states now play prominent roles in the training programmes of their teachers. The Federal Government between last year and 2012 invested N11billion in the training of teachers and basic education administrators. The funds were handed over directly to the state agencies with officials of the Federal Government monitoring their implementation.

Through the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, self-help projects, infrastructure in basic education institutions have been improved in all the states of the Federation in the last one year.

Mathematics, one of the core subjects relevant for the development of science and technical education has witnessed remarkable investment already yielding results. The Federal Government is collaborating with the Japanese government under the Strengthening Mathematics and Science Education, SMASE, programme. Under SMASE, Nigerian teachers have been trained in Mathematics and Science teaching techniques. This programme suffered a setback until the Minister of State for Education intervened to get it back on track.

Another training programme with the Korean government has led to the training of education administrators in the basic education sub-sector in the last one to improve service delivery across these institutions in the country.

The foundation being laid by the Federal Government through the sustained distribution of books to pupils and students in basic education institutions will bear fruits for several years to come. Closely tied to this is the “Bring Back the Book” programme initiative of President Goodluck Jonathan which is being promoted by the Federal Government.

Wike himself has taken up improving the reading culture amongst Nigerian youths as a top priority. Since last year, he has engaged in several read campaign programmes to encourage Nigerian children to read. The National Read Campaign Committee has been strengthened at the Ministerial level to carry out this function.

It is true that attaining 38.81% five credits pass level, including English language and Mathematics is below the overall national expectation; the current growth is an encouraging sign. The sad commentaries will soon give way to positive results all across the entire gamut of the education sector.

The coordinated approach to tackling the setbacks in the basic education sub-sector will certainly translate into sustained growth for the nation. Beyond doubt, the nation’s basic education sub-sector is on the path of ascendancy and this is a fact that cannot be contradicted.
Mr Simeon Nwakaudu is the Special Assistant (Media) to the Minister of State for Education. Home Page

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