| By Anayo Ezugwu |
THE year 2016 was not so rosy for the education sector in Nigeria. Throughout the year, the sector was on a bumpy ride which culminated with the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, threatened to go on strike because the federal government reneged on its agreement with the union. The union actually embarked on warning strike on November 17, to press home its demands, accusing the government of refusing to implement the 2009 agreement and the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, reached with it.
But on Wednesday, November 23, the federal government said it has met seven of the eight demands of aggrieved university lecturers. One of the demands that could not be met was the N284 billion allowances owed the lecturers, and which the government said it could not meet now because of recession.
This notwithstanding, on June 2, the federal government announced the cancellation of Post-Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, Post-UTME, in the country. Adamu Adamu, minister of education, said the government had confidence in the examinations conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, and that there was no need for other examinations to be conducted by universities after JAMB exams.
“As far as I am concerned, the nation has confidence in what JAMB is doing, the universities should not be holding another examination and if the universities have any complain against JAMB, let them bring it and then we address it. If JAMB is qualified enough to conduct tests and they have conducted test, then there will be no need to conduct another test for students to gain admission. The ministry expects that all candidates given admission must be from JAMB. But JAMB must stop issuing admission letters, JAMB should get in touch with institutions before offering admission to students.”
In August, the country recorded improved performances in most of the external examinations conducted in the country. The results of the West African Examinations Council, WAEC, for 2016 released by the body showed a significant improvement in candidates’ performance from what it has been for a decade.
According to Olu Adenipekun, head of national office, council’s national office in Lagos, 878,040 candidates, representing 52.97 percent of 1,544,234 candidates who sat for the examination obtained credits in five subjects, including Mathematics and English Language.
This year’s performance has been applauded by stakeholders. For a period of five years (2010 to 2015), the country moved within the orbit of 24 and 38 percent failure record. And as students, teachers, principals and educators in the country heave a sigh of relief from what was beginning to be a stamp of ‘never do well’ label on the Nigerian secondary education system.
Nonetheless, the nation recorded mass failure at the West African Senior School Certificate Examination for private candidates. Only a total of 66,497 out of the 172,699 candidates who sat for the exams this year recorded five credits and above in five subjects, including Mathematics and English Language.
Only four candidates out of the 19 visually-challenged candidates who sat for the examination obtained credits in five subjects, including English Language and Mathematics. Adenipekun said on Friday, December 16, while announcing the release of the results in Lagos, said the result was an improvement on the 2014 and 2015 examinations.
“A total of 66,497 candidates, representing 38.50 percent, obtained credits in five subjects and above, including English Language and Mathematics. The percentage of candidates that obtained five credits and above, including English Language and Mathematics in the WASSCE for private candidates in 2014 and 2015, was 29.37 percent and 20.59 percent, respectively. Plans to conduct a second diet of the examination are already at an advanced stage of approval. It may be possible next year,” he said.
Out of the 172,699 candidates who registered for the examination, Adenipekun said 1,210 candidates, representing 0.69 percent, have a few of their results still being processed due to errors. He added that the errors were being corrected to enable the candidates to get their full results.
He said the results of 13,488 candidates, representing 7.81 percent, were being withheld in connection with various cases of examination malpractice. “For the May/June examinations, we work with schools and assisted them to make sure that the biometric and bio data of the pupils are properly captured and uploaded. But with private candidates, they have to access our portal individually and upload their bio data. Some of the candidates, out of anxiety, will rush to answer the questions without writing their names and examination numbers. We will continue to educate the candidates such that the errors are reduced,” he said.
In the year under review, the Senate approved the extension of the validity of the results of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations, UTME, being conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, to three years. The extension was contained in the new amendments made to the Act establishing the board.
The Bill approving the amendment of the Act was passed at plenary on Thursday, October 13, and the senate said that the extension was granted to reduce the financial burden of the examination on parents. The passage of the Bill followed the report of the Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFund. In the report, the committee said the validity was extended in view of the financial hardship experienced by parents in sponsoring their wards for the examination.
The Senate also passed a Bill to outlaw sexual advances from lecturers to students of tertiary institutions in the country. According to the Bill, any lecturer found guilty to have broken the law, when passed, will risk a maximum five-year jail term or N5 million fine or both.
The Senate also abolished the consent defence claim by sexual assault and rape suspects, as contained in the criminal and penal codes. The bill provides that, “An educator shall be guilty of committing an offence of sexual harassment against a student, if he or she has sexual intercourse with a student who is less than 18 years of age, an imbecile or of generally low mental capacity or blind or deaf or otherwise physically challenged.”
It also categorises it as an offence when such a person has sexual intercourse with a student or demands for sex from a student or a prospective student as a condition to giving a grade or the granting of honours and scholarships, or the payment of stipend, allowance or other benefits, privileges or considerations.
“An educator shall be guilty of committing an offence of sexual harassment against a student if he or she solicits sex from or makes sexual advances towards a student when the sexual solicitation or sexual advances result in an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for the student. Or directs or induces another person to commit any act of sexual harassment under this bill, or cooperates in the commission of sexual harassment by another person without which it would not have been committed; grabs or hugs or rubs or strokes or touches or pinches the breasts or hair or lips or buttocks or any other sensual parts of the body of a student. Or displays, gives or sends by hand or courier or electronic (means) or any other means, naked or sexually explicit pictures or videos or sex related objects to a student. Or whistles or winks at a student or scream or exclaims or jokes or makes sexually complimentary or uncomplimentary remarks about a student’s physique,” It stated.
— Jan 2, 2017 @ 01:00 GMT