CERTIFICATE RACKETEERING & FALLING EDUCATIONAL STANDARD

It is generally believed that to systematically destroy a nation does not always require rolling out drones, deadly tankers or high-speed jets to start targeted bombing of humans and infrastructures. A conventional war would definitely involve all these armaments, a formidable propaganda outfit and tested logistic wherewithal.

The fact remains that all these paraphernalia would not be necessary in order to effectively bring a nation to her knees. Then what is? Before letting the cat out of the bag, let us review what it takes to qualify for nationhood.

Nation-State: is defined as a territory controlled by a single government and inhabited by a distinct population with a common culture that shapes the identity of its people.

Sovereignty:  is the autonomous, absolute political and military power embodied in a ruler or governmental body. The concept of sovereignty originated when Europeans in the 16th and 17th centuries were looking for a secular basis for the authority of the emerging nation-states. In international relations, a sovereign state is equal to other states; it can govern its own territory, declare war, and so on. Contemporary international law, however, as well as the treaties that bind nations together, have modified the freewheeling absolute sovereignty conceived of four centuries ago. The United Nations is the main legal body today that acts as a check on sovereignty.

Constitution: is the fundamental system of law, written or unwritten, of a sovereign state, established or accepted as a guide for governing the state. A constitution fixes the limits and defines the relations of the legislative, judicial, and executive powers of the state, thus setting up the basis for government. It also provides guarantees of certain rights to the people. The United States has a written constitution. The United Kingdom has an unwritten constitution (see English Constitution), embodying numerous documents and customs defining the relationship of the Crown, the Parliament, and the courts to the citizens (see Magna Carta).

For all the above components that identify a nation to be sustained, the people must be well-informed of their rights and privileges, their freedom and restrictions, their common boundaries and, above all, areas of mutual co-operation and co-existence. There is no arguing the fact that a sound educational system ought to be in place for the realization of these advantages. This explains why every system of government has a definitive educational foundation which accommodates the citizenry from cradle to a ripe old age. A nation’s economy can only properly be managed if she has not just educated but dedicated technocrats, bureaucrats and politically-sound individuals to pilot the affairs.

Until recently, Nigeria as a nation had all that it takes to stand up and be counted among the League of Nations. Her economic fortunes have been applauded as the most robust, at least in all Africa. Alas, the very foundation upon which her greatness stood is beginning to crumble because of corruption and misplaced priorities.

Because of the flagrant manner and reckless abandon with which the present political class displays ill-acquired wealth, the average Nigerian youth is no longer patient to pass through formal educational ladder before taking his queue within the labour market. He wants to literally jump the gun and acquire wealth above every other consideration. The result is a falling educational standard or the dearth of it. The average youth who has failed to pursue higher education will always blame it on the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) or the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) for failing to automatically push them over to the next level.

In consequence, therefore, they would rather venture into fraudulent get-rich-quick practices ranging from Internet fraud, money ritual, drug trafficking, kidnapping, armed robbery, and so on. Before their fellow youth who wisely opt to pursue education graduates from a tertiary institution, the get-rich-quick guy already has a university degree obtained from the backdoor.

It is pertinent to share some overview of students’ academic performance prior to gaining admission into tertiary institutions. I have randomly selected 2017 and 2018 summaries showing the performance of students at West African School Certificate Examinations.

The breakdown shows that 1,567,016 candidates registered for the examination out of which 1,559,162 actually wrote the examination. Of this, 829,853 were male, while 729,309 were female, representing 53.22 per cent and 46.27 per-cent respectively.

Out of the number that sat for the examination, 1,490,356 candidates, representing 95.59 per-cent obtained credits and above in two subjects; 1,436,024 candidates representing 92.44 per-cent obtained credits and above in three subjects; 1,357,193 candidates representing 87.05 per-cent obtained credits and above in four subjects; 1,243,772, representing 79.77 per-cent obtained credits and above in five subjects; while 1,084,214 candidates representing 69.54 per-cent obtained credits and above in six subjects.

Table 1: SUMMARY OF 2017 WASSC EXAM

No of Candidates Percentage on two credits Percentage on three credits Percentage on four credits Percentage on above five subjects Percentage on above six subjects Results withheld for malpractice
1,490,356 95.59%          
1,436,024   92.44%        
1,357,193     87.05%      
1,243,772       79.77%    
1,084,214         69.54%  
214,952           13.79%

The results of 214,952 candidates representing 13.79 per-cent are being withheld in connection with cases of examination malpractice. (Source: National Newspaper 18 July 2017).

The report on 2018 examination, published by Ghana General News Sat, 9 Mar 2019, the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) starts with the disheartening remark; expressing worry over the drop in the performance of candidates in three core subjects.

The report showed that with the exception of Social Studies, there was a decline in performance in English Language, Integrated Science and Mathematics.

Performance in the English Language dropped from 52.24 per-cent in 2017 to 46.79 per-cent in 2018. Integrated Science performance dropped from 52.89 per-cent in 2017 to 50.48 per-cent in 2018.
Performance in Mathematics was no better as 41.66 per-cent of candidates obtained grade C6 and better in 2017 as against 38.15 per-cent in 2018.

Table 2: COMPARATIVE DECLINE IN PERFORMANCE

English Language Integrated Science Mathematics
2017 2018 2017 2018 2017 2018
52.24% 46.79% 52.89% 50.48% 41.66% 38.15%


In Mathematics, for example, the Chief Examiner listed some weaknesses of the candidates in translating word problems into mathematical statements, solving simultaneous equations and probability-related problems among others.

 For the English Language, she cited poor grammar, spelling, the use of abbreviated words and the dearth of sufficient vocabulary as some of the candidates’ challenges.

On examination malpractices, the act had become the most challenging threat to the integrity of examination particularly within the West African sub-region; and the canker had also eaten deep into most schools. It can be seen from the above summation that there has been a sustained decline in the academic performance of the WASSCE. It is not surprising that in their desperation to just pass the examination and move onward, most students have become victims of examination malpractices.

How could anyone expect the Educational Management bodies to push people with these poor performances over to the next level? It will be tantamount to eroding the entire educational system. When everything else has failed, the frustrated candidate would look back and remember that while he was busy taking exams and failing, his peers who had decided to follow the fast track already have not only acquired some reasonable level of affluence but also have obtained a university degree from the back door.

The far-reaching effect of this trend is that the very foundation upon which the nation is founded will begin to crumble. Hence the saying; “if you want to destroy a nation, first collapse the educational system.”  I am afraid we have a bleak future ahead of us.

In order therefore, to stem the tide of a degenerating educational system and forestall imminent collapse of the nation, every educational institution should ensure that it has the office of a Career Counselor whose duty it should be to from time to time review the academic potentials and background of each student which should enable her/him to professionally advise them on appropriate career choices rather than trying to force a square peg into a round hole. Furthermore, governments should develop a curriculum which accommodates vocational, technical and entrepreneurial studies at the tertiary levels of education to the effect that an artisan or a farmer could expect to hold a university degree in his chosen career.

© Dr Vincent Nnanna, PhD.
Dean, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Management & Social Sciences.
Hill-City  University, Rep du Benin.

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