Sir: I was elated at the announcement by the Ministry of Education after its meeting with other stakeholders, that schools would be opened when it is safe to do so. The joy didn’t last long when it dawned that only the exit class in the secondary schools are making their way back from August 4.
Exit class? Those in the category are our precious SS3 students who were to take the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) before the COVID-19 outbreak halted the process. Before the announcement, the West African Examination Council (WAEC) had already slated the exam to commence by August 17 through to September 12.
That is barely about two weeks to the examination. Even some state government announced other dates from that of the federal government reducing the timeframe.
Before the outbreak and lockdown brouhaha, the preparation was on high with weeks to go but going four months down without the usual class activities and engagement would certainly not retain the zeal. Realistically, refreshing and getting the minds of the students ready for the examination within that short time is way impossible to achieve the set result.
A glance at previous years’ performance indices of the students, even with the usual high level of preparedness and focus, is revealing. Of the over 1.5 million students that took the exam in 2017, only 59.22 percent got the minimum five credits including English Language and Mathematics which is little above half the total population.
A 9.24% drop was recorded in the following year in same category while 2019 saw 64.18 percent recorded the same level of performance out of the over 1.5 million registered students.
How just two weeks of preparation can take the performance index for this year higher is a big question with an answer not too close. The workload on the students will be more than normal as classes for the nine subjects they opted for would run uninterruptedly.
Some quarters might argue that the students had four months to prepare. No doubt, this could be true but only to a limited extent. At the initial phase of the lockdown, the tempo of study could have been sustained as the students continued to prepare with the hope that the spread of the virus would be contained as quickly as possible and normalcy restored. What they could never have bargained for is the waiting game extending for four long months.
To seek to excite the minds of the students suddenly with examination within a short time is not the best. Even advance examinations and professional bodies are known to give sufficient time for preparation and with adequate information to those concerned.
With the current situation, the floodgate for examination malpractices might have been opened as the students and their overzealous parents and even the teachers would opt for creative ways of making it through in the examinations.
Why can’t the WASSC Examination be shifted to give time for our dear students to get ready for the big and life changing task ahead of them?