The Emerging Illiterate Generation

Posted: August 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

Thisday|amebo|burningpot

There is urgent need for government to declare a state of emergency in the educational sector

The Nigerian National Office of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) recently released the results for its May/June 2012 examinations. The outgoing Head of the Nigerian National Office (HNO), Dr. Uyi Uwadiae, who made public the results said that 649,156 candidates representing 38.81 per cent obtained credits in five subjects and above, including English Language and Mathematics. A total of 1,649,156 candidates nationwide sat for the examinations.

Going by the figures released by WAEC, about 39 percent of the candidates were successful in the examinations, something Uwadiae described as “eight per cent improvement” over that of last year. Yet the fact not underscored is that of this number only 472, 906 candidates obtained five credits including English Language and Mathematics. That in effect means that on the overall, just 31 percent passed with five credits.

Against the background that over the past five years Nigeria has consistently recorded an annual less-than-40 per cent success rate in these examinations, such consistence in mass failure shows that something is dangerously wrong with the educational system and/or the environment that churns out annually a generation of illiterate young boys and girls. We therefore believe very strongly that the nation’s educational systems, especially the public schools system from the primary to tertiary, have failed the youths of this country.

Unfortunately, those in authority at all levels of government have only been paying lip service to the improvement of public education system in our country. Yet the advent of highly expensive and difficult-to-afford private schools (at all levels) had effectively sealed the fate of poorly funded public schools with the result that only unqualified teaching staff populate the public schools. Others who share in the blame for this ugly situation are the teachers as it has become standard practice for them to use the period of examinations as the best time to negotiate with the government. Most public school teachers also spend their time engaged in things not related to their job during official hours in the effort to make ends meet due to poor remunerations.

The students themselves have a good share of the blame for the woeful performances recorded in WAEC and Senior School Certificate examinations annually. Since the advent of the social media like Mobile Phones, Blackberry, Facebook, Twitter, etc., the Nigerian youth have become so addicted to these gadgets that they no longer have time for reading and preparing for their examinations. Also, the use of the social media short messaging system or texting language which permits all kinds of acronyms or abbreviated words has corrupted many that they sometimes assume that it is normal to use such forms of expression in real situations like examination. Furthermore, over dependence on “expo” has destroyed the confidence of many students.

In view of all these factors, we reiterate our earlier call that government should as a matter of urgent national interest declare a state of emergency in the educational sector. The government for instance has a duty to improve the working conditions of the nation’s teachers who must not always have to go on strike in order to obtain a favourable consideration of their plight. The schools themselves must be equipped to meet basic standards to adequately prepare students, especially in the sciences. Unless something drastic was done, and urgently too, the future of the nation’s human capital must have been seriously and irreversibly compromised while the negative social consequences can only be imagined.

Things must not continue this way as it is very obvious that not every parent can afford the cost of private school education for their children and wards. All stakeholders must therefore join hands to revert the ugly trend.

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