n 1952, little might have been envisaged about WAEC and its prospects, but time and recent history are irrepressible markers that the noble examining body was, indeed, rightly conceived. In its vision statement, it hopes to provide qualitative and reliable educational assessment; and encourage academic excellence among others. Has WAEC been fulfilling this visionary mandate? May be? May be not? While you are ruminating on your take, I had better pose a second question. Has WAEC been unveiling the mask? To this, I say, absolutely!
In Nigeria, where I live, students are to observe twelve weeks or so in school marking the exit of a term. At the sixth week or thereabouts, the students are subjected to a test – a mid-term test to assess their performance, ascertain their readiness for the ultimate examination and possibly take an action to salvage the would be examination victims and casualties. Like the sixth week, like the twelfth week, students are to sit the end-of-the-term examination, which possibly may launch them to the next class, in the case of a terminal term-third term.
Now, let’s hit it! Parents, especially, the curious ones not necessarily the educated ones look forward to the grades and teachers’ comments on their children’s report card as they call it. A flood of B’s and C’s dance graciously on the card, perhaps, with one or two recalcitrant D’s. To the unsuspecting parents, the child’s performance has been duly reflected on the card. I promise you, most times, the grades are teacher-made.
Before you begin to throw stones at me, put your child on the same test that has professed his ability as superior, albeit, you will be mouth-opened and perplexed at a traitorous result brought home. Again, before those stones in the air are flung in my direction, I had better, unmask and reveal my identity. I am a teacher. Are teachers without conscience? I mean, are we without dignity and sanctity? May be? May be not? But, everyone has got what to protect. The school has an image to protect, the school administrator has the teeming population to protect, the teacher has his job to protect, since good jobs are scarce, perhaps everywhere or where I live; parents have got their pride and ego to protect-I can’t take it, what do you mean by that, please withdraw that advice-he can’t repeat; the child has got his esteem to protect-I will rather change schools. Did you see how being egocentric and short-termistic have forced us to the table of manipulation and pretence. Here we are colluding to promote the underperformers. If the future rests on the foundation, then, why destroy their future through the teacher-made grades or everyone-made grades. Let them repeat! Repeat is not negative or innocuous altogether. Repeat is not a setback. It is, if correctly understood, an opportune event to set you up in order to fetch out the legend in you.
With WAEC, the mask is unveiled though, not aggregately as Honourable Mr. Malpractice is still around to re-mask their true competence. Most parents woke up to the reality of the pseudo grades and teacher-made grades that their children have paraded for five years or God-knows-when. Should we promote or continue to promote students that are not eligible for the next level? Why top up their grades? Why defile that counsel that requires him to repeat? Why pretend the grades are yours? Why are we all silent in the face of teacher-made grades? Let them repeat. If I had missed out any salient point that this piece should have featured, I am greatly sure, it would be…let them repeat until they prove their eligibility for the next class. May the sleeping giant awake in them as they repeat to kindle it.
Samuel Ogunnaike, Lagos.
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