The decision by the West African Examinations Council to introduce 39 new subjects into its examination curriculum for this year’s Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination has sparked up a flood of criticisms
| By Vincent Nzemeke | Feb. 24, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
THE West African Examinations Council, WAEC, has stirred up a fresh controversy in the educational sector when it announced the introduction of some 39 new subjects to its current examination curriculum. Information to this effect was contained in February 3, statement signed by Olayinka Ajibade, the council’s acting head, test development division. According to the statement, the new subjects would commence in the 2014 May/June West African Senior School Certificate Examination, WASSCE.
Said Ajibade: “The fresh initiative is in accordance with the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council’s, NERDC, new secondary school curriculum.” NERDC is the body responsible for the review of primary and secondary school curriculum in the country. In the new curriculum, four additional subjects namely computer studies, insurance, store management and office practice are in the elective category while the remaining 35 subjects are in the trade category. Some of the subjects in the trade category include painting, decorating, photography, salesmanship and plumbing.
With the new plan, students registering for WASSCE, are required to take four core subjects comprising of English language, general mathematics, civic education and trade/entrepreneurial studies. The candidates would also be required to choose three or four subjects from Humanities, Science, Technology and Business Studies depending on their potentials and interests.
Barely one week after WAEC made the announcement, there has been a flurry of criticisms over the new curriculum. Most of the critics are wondering what WAEC intends to achieve with the new subjects and why students must sit for an examination less than four months after they were introduced into the curriculum.
Over the past five years, Nigeria has consistently recorded less than 40 per cent success in WAEC examinations. What is more worrisome is the fact that many students who flop in WAEC examinations perform better in examinations organised by the National Examinations Council, NECO, which also uses the same syllabus used by WAEC. Besides, consistent criticisms trail the release of virtually every WAEC examination in recent times. Over the years, there had been widespread allegations of examination irregularities aided and abetted by fraudulent invigilators. All these and many other negative developments that have raised many questions over the credibility of WAEC.
Hamed Adelani, a teacher, is at pains understand why WAEC is adopting the “immediate effect” approach by asking students to sit for an examination on subjects that have not yet been taught in schools.“ I don’t understand what WAEC hopes to achieve by creating new problems rather than solving the existing ones. Introducing 39 new subjects and expecting students to write examinations on those subjects in less than four months shows that the body has lost focus. How do you expect students to get a pass mark on a subject they have never been taught? “
Expressing a similar concern, Chuks Ogor, a teacher in Government secondary school, Garki, Abuja, said the new subjects were part of WAEC’s plan to increase the mass failure of students in its examination. “He said: “While students are failing woefully in the existing subjects, WAEC is heartlessly introducing new ones. I think it is just a plan to increase the number of students with poor results in WAEC examinations because there is no way students will pass in those subjects that have just been introduced.”
There are also those asking questions about the relevance of subjects such as photography and plumbing to the country’s national development. Elizabeth Uduak, an education consultant, said the major problem with the introduction of the new subjects is that there is no specialised man power to teach them.“ The subjects they are introducing are a bit technical and that appears to be the major problem. Where are the teachers to teach these new subjects? Can schools afford to hire them even if they were available? I think they should have thought about all these things before making the announcement”, she said.
Despite the flurry of negative criticisms, there are those who opine that WAEC is on the right path with the introduction of the new subjects. Aleosiegha Ojeme, another educationist, said the subjects are intended to fill the technical vacuums present in many Nigerian schools. She said, the lack of technical education in schools is one of the reasons why many youths are unemployed in the country.
“If you take a proper look at the new subjects, you will see that they are tailored towards filling the technical and vocational gaps in our schools. With the introduction of subjects such as photography and plumbing, many more people will get a chance to be educated and that will go a long way in addressing the unemployment challenge in the country. Everybody cannot get a white collar job and that is why we must encourage people to embrace vocational studies.”
But despite her commendations, Ojeme as advised that examinations in the newly introduced subjects be postponed till such a time when many schools would have gotten the syllabus and prepared their students adequately.“ I think the examinations can wait because I don’t see how the students will perform well in an examination for a subject that has just been introduced.
As more people continue to react to the development, it remains to be seen if WAEC would back down on its insistence that examination in the new subjects would commence in May 2014.