Shame upon shame

The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) recently announced the results of the May/June 2014 examinations conducted by the body. The results are a national tragedy, our collective shame.

Almost 70 per cent of the candidates failed to obtain five credit passes in English Language and Mathematics. Specifically, only 529,425 candidates (or 31.28%) of the 1,605,613 candidates whose results were fully processed technically passed, that is, in five subjects including the two compulsory subjects.

“While 649,156 candidates representing 38.81 per cent of the total number who wrote the exams obtained five credits with English Language and Mathematics in 2012, 610,334 candidates representing 36.57 per cent passed the examinations in 2013. In other words, 61 per cent failed in 2012, about 63 per cent failed in 2013 while about 69 percent failed in 2014”, the WAEC Head of the National Office, Mr Charles Eguridu, said at a press conference.

Rather than stop at doing his work, Mr Eguridu went on to add a bit of what I am constrained to say a “dorononsense” when he attempted to rationalise the situation. According to him, “we cannot totally say that the students performed woefully because when you compare the performance of Nigerian candidates with others in the sub-region…we can say it was never a bad performance for Nigerians after all.”

When did we begin to measure our standards with “other English speaking countries within West Africa” that we are obviously more blessed than? The warped logic is analogous to someone rationalising our security situation by saying afterall, we are still better than Somalia. When does Somalia become the basis of comparison?

It is a shame that part of our national problems is that rather than address issues frontally, we justify the unjustifiable and rationalise the irrational. This is not desirable.

The truth is that students could not have performed better because we have not significantly done better in the education sector between 2012 and now. It has been business as usual and stagnant water can only get messier.

Those who express shock and outrage about the results should learn from Albert Einstein. He said the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

Scores of problems can be attributed to the increasing failure rates but I prefer to sum them all up as ATTITUDE. On attitude, there is this small but profound truth that if A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z is equal to 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26, H+A+R+D+W+O+R+K will be 8+1+184+23+15+18+11 =98%; K+N+O+W+L+E+D+G+E will be 11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 =96%; G+O+O+D+L+U+C+K will 7+15+15+4+12+21+3+11 = 88%.

What then makes 100 per cent? Money, wealth, success? None of them is 100%. It is attitude! A+T+T+I+T+U+D+E is 1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 =100.

Attitude is everything and your attitude determines your altitude. What is our general attitude to education? It is negative and shameful. The negative attitude is on the part of the government, the teachers, the parents, the students themselves and the entire society. Serious learning is deemed a waste of time by a vast majority in a situation where dropouts and “educated illiterates” call the shots.

Then, as if the poor performance in WAEC is not enough, another shame that assails our national conscience is the failure of the Federal Government to pay the allowances of the 322 Nigerian students who are on scholarship in Russia.

According to media reports last week, the (un)lucky students who won the competitive Bilateral Education Agreement (BEA) Scholarships Award two years ago have been struggling to survive in Putin’s country. Some of them are “circumventing the laws”, a euphemism for engaging in crime, to survive.

A student of Medicine and Surgery at Russian National Research Medical University, Moscow, David Ikenna, laments that they are exposed to risk. “The Nigerian government has failed us miserably”, he said.

“Even with the illegal jobs we still find it hard to make ends meet. It is shameful that we have got no alternatives but to beg for food and money from Ghanaians, Namibians, Ugandans and Sierra Leoneans who are on the same bilateral education scholarship like us”, he added. It is truly shameful.

If our best students are made to suffer abroad after winning competitive scholarships on merit, the signal we are sending to the younger minds is that education does not matter. If education doesn’t matter, then there is no point striving and toiling to excel in it so as not to end up in Russia!

To revamp our education sector as evident in the results of the WAEC students and the Russian shame, we all need attitudinal change.


Re: Big men, small character

Dear Sir, after reading your article today, “Big men, small character”, I wonder how the next generation of our youth will learn to survive the waves of challenges ahead to come. God bless. Adekunle