The Federal Ministry of Education has had cause to summon heads of primary and secondary schools across the country to meetings to hear their explanations on the dismal performance of their students in public examinations. It is obvious that the situation has not changed despite a number of interventions. This embarrassment to the country has continued.
Often times, parents have taken the government and school authorities to task on the poor output of their children and wards. The frustration and pain are more when the enormous resources involved in the education of these young ones are taken into consideration. The decay in the country’s education and school system started several years ago and unfortunately this has been allowed to continue. This is unacceptable.
It is this singular factor that has led to the near collapse of the public school system and promoted the proliferation of private schools across the country. Many parents have opted for the private schools for their children in their determination to end the frustration and provide a better and more secure future for the children. But are the private schools themselves faring any better? It is debatable and an issue for another day.
It is often said that if a method of achieving a goal is unsuccessful, then another method should be pursued and adopted if proven. In the education system, this has been tried and it is not yet uhuru as mass failure has continued to characterize students’ performance in public examinations.
A physics teacher in a private school in Abuja, Mana Jakada attributes the mass failure to the poor reading culture among students and the emergence of the Internet, computer games and social media that lure the young minds away from their books.
“How can they pass when they hardly read books and all they do is to chat with their phones even in class? They are busy making friends all over the world and this can be very distracting. When you give assignments, many of them will copy from the net and can hardly explain what they have written. When exam comes, you can be sure they will not do well,” Jakada said.
This raises the question- is the emergence of the Internet and social media a blessing or a curse to the young ones? A primary school teacher in Abuja, Monica Istifanus said “every man-made thing has good and bad sides and today we are experiencing the bad side of modernization which in turn is affecting the lives of students.
“Internet is here to stay and nothing can be done about it as it is the desire of people to have everything simplified. The parents have a lot to do in this area as they are usually the ones that purchase high powered gadgets for their children. If they can make the children understand that life is in stages and they do not need those gadgets, but face their studies which is primarily the first they should think of, and they stick to the terms, so much improvement will be noticed.
“Besides, the inability of parents to know the capacity of their children when it comes to strength in various subjects is also responsible. Many of them want their children to read professional courses especially under the science category without considering the ability and past results of the children which suggest their inability to cope in those classes. You cannot insist that your child must be a medical doctor when he performs poorly or averagely in science core subjects or when his interest lies more in creativity or in commerce or art-related subjects. There’s no need toying with the destinies of children simply because parents are selfish and want to prove a point at the expense of the child,” she pointed out.
A concerned parent, Beatrice Offor insists that the bulk of the blame must go to schools. Besides not sticking to given curricula, she alleged that change of teachers had become so rampant in many schools that children were left confused as to what to believe because many of these teachers would come with different teaching methods.
“Operating a school has become more of a business and imparting knowledge is now a second fiddle. Teachers will always look for greener pastures at the detriment of the students. You don’t expect students to perform well when teachers of a particular subject are changed three or four times before the end of a session. Besides, how many schools complete their syllabus? Students cannot write correctly what they have not been taught.
“Besides, the sale and acquisition of certificates does not take place only in tertiary institutions. The scourge can be identified even in primary and secondary schools as having a pass mark or good grades has become a do or die affair. There are cases of parents who buy certificates for their children which is doctored by a school. If children know that they have parents that can practice such, why should they bother to pass exam?” she contended.
LEADERSHIP sought the views of a psychologist and staff of Neuro-psychiatric Hospital, Kaduna and the man who craved anonymity said emotional, psychological, and to some extent spiritual reasons could be responsible for failure.
“Students who are not psychologically and emotionally fit cannot do well in exams and expecting the contrary will be unfair to them. So many factors can be responsible for this imbalance and some of them include being victims of broken homes, constant change of schools, hormonal change in their bodies, misplacement of priorities as many of them go into relationships without considering the impact on their studies, and the list is inexhaustible. If the problems are not discovered and dealt with, ‘A’ students can be reduced to average students and average students can be reduced to poor students.
“Sometimes, even the economy can take a toll on a student and destabilize his/her performance. You can imagine a situation whereby a child has to walk for several kilometres before getting to school and will have to do so after school. He/she might not even be exposed to the right kinds of food which will boost brain power and help in academic output. So, even the economy and unpopular government policies can be responsible,” he stated.
So many reasons have been adduced for mass failure of students in public examinations. They range from poor quality of teachers, inefficient school management, inability of parents to be alive to their responsibilities towards their children and wards to unseriousness on the part of students, among other. Whatever are the real reasons, the point remains that it is as disgraceful and embarrassing to the country as it is frustrating and economically wasteful to parents and highly unsettling to the students. It is a trend that must be halted and every hand needs be on deck to realize this. Now is the time. (Leadership)