• Friday, June 21, 2024
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WASSCE: Teachers, parents in divergent views over performance of candidates


After several months of anxious wait by parents, students, schools proprietors and other education stakeholders for the commencement of the much-awaited West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) 2020, the examination finally started on Monday, August 17. But the examination has been trailed with anxiety.

This year’s examination has 1,549, 463 candidates registered for the diet from 19,129 schools out of which 786,421 are males and 763,042 are females.

Since the examination commenced, parents and school owners have expressed great concerns over the likely performance of the students given the disruption of their studies occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.

The stakeholders, who spoke with BDSUNDAY, said that they feared that the unpreparedness of the pupils for the examination would hamper their success.

It was gathered also that as a result of the social distancing, which is being observed in the hall of examination, is already giving many of the candidates hard times. They are disappointed because their hope of cheating had been shattered.

Educationists say this year’s examination may be woeful to say the least, considering that most public schools students, especially in rural areas, did not have the requisite opportunity for online tutorial which many see as a huge disadvantage.

Omowunmi Owolabi, a concerned parent, said the two weeks period given for her son to prepare for the examination was too short, noting that it was unfair as her son and many other students hardly had time to cover up lost ground during the lockdown.

According to her, “Rushing students for this year’s examination maybe counterproductive as mass failure looms due to the short time frame for adequate preparation”.

Owolabi further believed that the students should have been given adequate time to prepare for the examination, having stayed home for a very long time as a result of the pandemic.

On what her expectations are for the outcome of the examination, she said that the social distancing rule which has necessitated a new arrangement of seating six feet or two metres apart in the examination halls had added to the psychological blow to some candidates in the ongoing examination.

Michael Omodiagbe, another parent and a civil engineer, told BDSUNDAY correspondent that the two weeks given for preparation of the WASSCE examination was very ill-thought as it may have just exposed candidates in most public schools to engage in examination malpractices.

Omodiagbe, “Having spent months at home due to Covid-19, many students especially in rural areas who have not engaged in any form of online tutorial must have forgotten what they learnt in school. It will be a huge wonder how they will cope.”

He further said that the outcome from this year’s WASSCE would further deepen the gulf between public and private schools as private schools that understand how to apply the effective use of online teaching during the period of school closure have used such to prepare their pupils.

BDSUNDAY finding shows that for the candidates, it was a mixed bag of reactions. While some, especially those in private school, expressed confidence in their readiness, the same cannot be said of others who have already resigned to their fate concerning the examination currently on going and the likely result they hope to post.

Chijioke Eze, a student writing the examination at Landmark Senior Seconding School in Lagos, told BDSUNDAY that the long months of lockdown afforded him and his friends the needed opportunity to prepare for the examination.

Eze, who engaged in online teaching and learning, is very optimistic of scoring a good grade in the examination.

On the social distancing rule, the commercial student who would like to study accounting at University of Benin, noted that by studying hard and preparing effectively, he is not bothered about such sitting arrangement as it will only help him concentrate more.

The confidence of Eze was also shared by Beatrice Eboh, a science student who noted that with the level of preparation put in by her teachers during the two-week revision, it would surely yield good results.

On the sitting arrangement, Eboh said this is good because it promotes high-level concentration during the examination and confidence.

The sentiment of Eboh and Eze concerning the WAASCE was not however, shared by Basil Egbe, a student who blatantly told our correspondent that he was not ready for the examination, blaming shortness of time to read.

Egbe said his inability to gain access to a mobile phone with data prevented him from participating in any form of online tutorial during the long period of lockdown.

He further said the only option open to him before which was to copy from his fellow student have been truncated because of the social distancing rule.

“My problem in this examination is the way social distancing is being enforced and because of this, me who was hoping to seek assistance from my friends cannot achieve that now,” Egbe lamented.

Joseph Edet, another student, said he would have loved if the period of preparation was one month not the just two weeks as experienced for this examination.

Edet, who is pained that he didn’t attend online teachings because he couldn’t get a smartphone coupled with the various distractions he faced at home, said it would only take the grace of God for him to pass the examination

While parents were anxious about the performance of pupils, the same cannot be said of some teachers and owners of private school as those who spoke to BDSUNDAY were optimistic that the students would do better having been returned to schools for revision.

Abosede Adetoun, an English Teacher in Lagos, observed that serious students who took their time to study during the period of the lockdown have nothing to worry about because they are expected to perform better in the ongoing external examination.

She said that it was her expectation that students who during the period of lockdown availed themselves of this new normal of online teaching will definitely post positive results in the examination.

Adetoun pointed out that students who prepared well will only see the Covid-19 adversity as a stepping stone to work hard which will, in turn, see them succeed.

Bayo Ogunjimi, a mathematics teacher, observed that there was no cause for alarm over the performance of the students in this year WASSCE. He also said that candidates had sat for the Mock Examination before the lockdown and closure of schools.

Ogunjimi pointed out that students who worked hard and truly sat for the Mock Examination and did well would surely make exploit in the examination.

He further cautioned that it was not when an examination approaches that wise students begin to prepare for it, adding that outcome of the 2020 WASSCE will only show the difference between those who prepared and those who didn’t.

Yomi Otubela, The National President of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) was quick to point out that those entertaining fears about the sitting arrangement occasioned by social distancing have nothing to fear. The arrangement is not new to the various examination bodies.

According to him, “It is always obtainable in exams conducted by WAEC, NECO, NABTEB and others. It is also not different from what we prepare in our exam halls. Before now, candidates sit four to five feet apart and social distancing only increased it to six feet apart.”

Commenting on how prepared students are, Otubela reiterated that students sat for the Mock Examination before the lockdown, adding that schools used all sorts of online and e-learning methods during the two weeks before the start of the examination to revise.

A school proprietor in whose school the examination is taking place, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “The pupils are not finding the exam easy at all. Many of them, out of three questions, they will only know one. They are really complaining. Well, let them just write it. I know that some of them who are disciplined enough and utilised the Covid-19 period to study their book will do well, no doubt,” the proprietor said.

Meanwhile, the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) Nigeria recently described as false rumours being peddled by some online media, alleging the leakage of its question papers in the ongoing WASSCE for School Candidates, 2020.

WAEC observed with dismay at such publication stating that contrary to the misleading impression, which the publications sought to portray, the integrity of the ongoing WASSCE for School Candidates, 2020 has not been compromised, as none of the question papers has leaked.

Demianus G. Ojijeogu, head, Public Affairs, WAEC Nigeria in a statement said that the attention of the WAEC Nigeria had been drawn to publications on social and other media.

“Some have even gone ahead to (mis)quote the Head of National Office of WAEC-Nigeria, Patrick Areghan, as confirming same. This is far from the truth and we take very strong exception to it,” he said.

Ojijeogu noted that for the avoidance of doubt, and for the benefit of the general public, there has been no leakage of any paper, whatsoever.

“The Council’s Monitoring/Investigations have revealed that some unscrupulous and unpatriotic Supervisors/Invigilators, and in some cases, candidates, snap the question papers (while the examination is in progress) and forward to their outside collaborators who in turn, provide solutions to the questions which they send to their subscribers via criminally-inclined websites, SMS and Whatsapp, even as this is against our regulation of: Use Of Cell Phones In The Examination Hall Is Not Allowed,” he said.

Some culprits who were caught in the act in Bauchi, Nasarawa and Rivers States have been arrested and will be prosecuted.