The introduction of 39 new subjects into the senior secondary curriculum by the Nigerian Education Research Development Council three years ago met with a lot of controversy. The first set of students sitting the new subjects in the ongoing West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations recounted their experiences and expectations to SUNDAY PUNCH.
Chris Eneremadu registered for mathematics, English Language, civic education, literature-in-English, Christian religious knowledge, commerce, economics, and government.
He told SUNDAY PUNCH, “The subjects were new to me at the time they were introduced. I had not come across some of them in my junior secondary classes. As we started the classes in SSS 1, I found them easy and interesting. It turned out that they weren’t so difficult to understand after all.”
He added that preparing for the exams was quite difficult, but the lessons he took from his teachers adequately prepared him for the exams.
“I can tell you that the results will be better than last year’s because the questions seem easy,” he said
Onyeka Ekeazolu, who registered for English Language, mathematics, civic education, economics, biology, physics, chemistry, computer studies, and further mathematics, said the examinations were relatively cheaper this year.
“The subjects were easy for me because I attended all the classes for each of the subjects since SSS 1. I also found it easy preparing for the exams because I’ve been taught basically everything I need to know. I am confident that I will do exceptionally well,” he said.
He noted that the only problem was that there were no past questions to revise before the examinations. He however said WAEC made available sample questions for intending candidates to use.
Tolu Onajoko told SUNDAY PUNCH she registered for English Language, literature-in-English, mathematics, commerce, biology, economics, Christian religious knowledge, and government.
“I couldn’t take the subjects that WAEC just introduced because the school in which I’m sitting the exams didn’t offer them. I would have loved to take civic education and computer because I was taught those subjects from SSS 1 to SSS 3 in my previous school,” she explained.
She however noted that preparing for the exams did not pose much problem to her because the new subjects were simple to understand.
“I think the results this year will be better than last year’s because the questions this year were easier than the ones in the past questions that I used to prepare,” she said.
The announcement by the West African Examinations Council that it would introduce the 39 new subjects into the 2014 examinations stirred some controversy and debate among stakeholders in the education sector.
The Acting Head, Test Development Division, Mrs. Olayinkawo Ajibade, who announced the introduction of the subjects in the examinations, had said it was part of the implementation of a review of primary and secondary school curricula.
She had said, “The implementation of the new Senior Secondary Certificate Examination curricula began in September 2011, meaning that the maiden public examinations based on the new/revised curricula are expected to be held in May/June 2014.
“Each West African SSCE syllabus is derived from the senior secondary education curriculum. In addition to the 39 new subjects for which NERDC engaged in curriculum development, curriculum review was also carried out for 35 existing subjects.”
In the new curriculum, four new subjects — computer studies, insurance, store management and office practice — are in the electives category, while the remaining 35 subjects are in the trades category.
With the new directive, students are required to take four core subjects, comprising English Language, general mathematics, civic education and trade/entrepreneurial studies.
The candidates are required to choose three or four subjects from Humanities, Science, Technology and Business Studies, depending on their potential and interest.
Accordingly, each student would be required to take a minimum of seven subjects and a maximum of eight.
Ajibade had, however, noted that the new directive would face some challenges. She identified inadequate teachers, appalling state of facilities in schools, and large class sizes as some of the challenges that would likely beset the initiative.
On Monday, March 24, 2014, WAEC commenced the May/June 2014 SSCE, which will run till Friday, May 16, 2014 in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and the Gambia.
A close examination of the results of candidates in Nigeria in the last three years shows that there has been a steady growth in the number of candidates who obtained a minimum of credits in at least five subjects.
In 2011, out of 1,540,250 who sat the May/June 2011 examination, 789,288 candidates (51.2 per cent) had a minimum of five credits. Of the total number who sat the exams, 80,247 did not have all their subjects released due to errors attributed to the candidates. According to the council, some of these errors and omissions occurred during the online registration for the examination and some were committed during the actual conduct of the examination.
The council stated that 587,630 candidates (38.93 per cent) obtained credits and above in mathematics, while 838,314 candidates (55.34 per cent) obtained credits and above in English Language.
It further broke down the statistics of results thus: 618,924 candidates (40.55 per cent) obtained credits and above in six subjects; 789,288 candidates (51.71 per cent) obtained five credits and above; 943,187 (61.80 per cent) obtained credits and above in four subjects; 1,084,817 (71.08 per cent) obtained credits and above in three subjects; and 1,223,359 candidates (80.15 per cent) obtained credits and above in two subjects.
In 2012, a total of 1,672,224 candidates sat the examination—8.6 per cent more than the previous year. Of these, 952,156 candidates obtained a minimum of five credits—20.6 per cent more than the previous year.
A total of 1,545,004 candidates (91.10 per cent) had their results fully released, while 150,874 candidates (8.90 per cent) had some subjects still being processed due to errors committed by the candidates at the point of registration.
A breakdown of the candidates according to their results includes 771,731 candidates (46.14 per cent) obtained 6 credits and above; 952,156 candidates (56.93 per cent) obtained five credits and above; and 1,107,747 (66.24 per cent) obtained credits in four subjects.
However, a total of 649,156 candidates (38.81 per cent) obtained credits in five subjects and above, including mathematics and English Language.
In 2013, 1,543,683 candidates, 7.7 per cent less than 2012, sat the WASSCE. Of these, a total of 1,074,065 candidates had at least five credits—12.8 per cent more than 2012.
The council noted that 889,636 candidates obtained six credits and above, 1,074,065 obtained five credits and above; 1,225,591 candidates obtained five credits and above; 1,353,273 obtained three credits and above; and 1,465,581 obtained two credits and above. The results of 145,505 others (8.62 per cent) were not released promptly due to some errors, the council had said.
It said the results of 2,176 candidates had been cancelled as a result of multiple entries by the candidates. It added that 112,865 results of candidates (6.75 per cent) were withheld due to examination malpractice.
Examining the trend, some candidates in the ongoing exams have declared their resolve to do better, despite the challenges they met with the introduction of the new subjects. (Punch)