Why Won’t They Fail?

 by Nwachukwu Egbunike

Nigerian Education Minister, Ruqayyatu Rufa’i

The gong has since ceased but the reverberations still echoes. News of the century: NECO GCE 2010 result records mass failure. The statistics are scary, students cannot pass common NECO – the watered down twin of the once revered WAEC (West African Examination Council) Examination. What is wrong; is it that the drummer no longer beats well or that the dancers have since forgotten their dance steps?

Out of the 25 subjects in the examination, no candidate scored up to 50% credit pass… 256,840 candidates registered for the examinations; 256,827 actually sat for them. Out of that number, only 51,781 candidates (20 percent) obtained the required credit pass in English Language. In Mathematics, only 87,508 (34 percent) passed it at credit level.

Are you surprised?

I am not! While the rant goes on about the quality of teaching and teachers in Nigeria’s public school, the absence of laboratory and teaching aids and the perpetually declining quality of education, methinks that little has been said about the students themselves. Granted that it takes three – teachers, parents and students – to make a success of education, yet the student has to be aware that he/she is ignorant and needs help.

Many Nigerian youngsters seem to be on an expressway of self destruction. They float in a bubble that is far flung from reality. Interacting with some via my craft in a quasi-educational institution unfortunately has validated this perspective.

Over the years I have met and spoken to pupils who give the impression that they are in school only to please their parents. Wait for it, some do not even give a damn whether or their parents are pleased or not! They are rightly entrenched in their worldview because they know that daddy/mummy will always fix it.

It is even more nauseating that their fellowship with their peers is not based on healthy academic rivalry. No, the bar is placed on being on the same level – PhD: pull him down! Since he/she cannot pass and I cannot pass, it means no problem at all. The system is to be blamed; they never find faults in themselves: “I am doing my best”. If you don’t like it, then take a swim in the Atlantic!

Distractions Unlimited!

While the Bermuda Triangle of social networks – Twitter, Facebook and Google – still reigns supreme; Blackberry (BB) has become a must for many. These students are no exception, they are constantly pinging. If only the propensity to face-book can be converted to facing their books, then these guys would pass. A post summarises it thus:

SUN NEWSPAPER today confirmed that ONE million candidates failed SSCE… Y wont dey fail?
FB/ BB/ Lace wig/  …BBA/ Wizkid/ Oniru/ Galleria/ Elegushi/ Ozone/ Shawarma…/ Pizza/ ipod/ Brazilian Hair/ Twitter/ Sagging/ nimbuzz/ ipad… Mcheewwww!!!


Social networks are now part of the stable diet of most people. Personally, I am an unrepentant addict. However, the level of English that one sees these days is pitiable. While many may ascribe it to the tendency to be brief while communicating, nonetheless, this brevity has broken boundaries. The unintelligible and obviously incoherent English that flows from these smart technologies can precipitate a cardiac unrest on Her Majesty. Take for instance, this twit from one of my ‘followers’:

Waking up nd knw dat yhur family nd frends re alrite.Dats d greatest joy ny1 can get in d morning Peeps hp yhur faf re alrite dis morning”

It took me a while to decode that the above means:

Waking up and knowing that your family and friends are alright: that’s the greatest joy any one can get in the morning. Peeps (colloquial rendition of people) hope your family are alright this morning?

Need I say more, why won’t they fail English?

Short Cut Culture

Every other thing but hard work. Only the old school still insist on ‘dignity’ of honest labour; now what counts is fame. Grab it, steal it… just make sure you make the money! While tons of literatures cloud the libraries on ‘the menace of examination malpractice’ has anyone ever wondered why it still hip to cheat? It is unimaginable but “the highest number of malpractices was in Igbo Language followed by Health Science and Physical Education.”

These fellows live in a society which trumpets dishonesty and idolises ‘big men’. The Nigerian big boy/girl is stupendously wealthy and most times an unrepentant crook. These are the models that we have hoisted on high for these youngsters to emulate. Can we then hypocritically scream that they have no attraction to their studies?

Over-grown Babies

I once read a post; a Nigerian mother lamented the fad of our time: over parenting. A situation where parents keep on providing for their children who are way past their thirties – they get them a job, foot their wedding bill and keep on providing for their families.

With such outlook, “my parents will fix it”, these lads have no push to do anything for themselves. Like babies who still carry diapers, they look up to their ever willing parents to clean their backside after visiting the rest room.

And this is not limited to the upper class alone; unfortunately, even those from the lower ladder of society are hocked to this disease. The obvious reason is that the current thought amongst many is to provide all for their children, to make life comfortable for them and in most cases to make sure that they suffer no want.

By so doing however, some Naija youths have no clue that things are hard. Their only worry is that their parents are plain stingy and should be more generous with cash.

It is not my Portion!

The above phrase like many others like: “it is well; God will do it” etc., is now part of our national lure. Ours is a society where people are afraid of plain talk, but engage in deceptive ‘inspirational’ balderdash.

This ideological stance has been dressed in a religious garment. Such that, a student who does not attend lectures; has no books: textbook nor notebook; hardly ever studies but is incredulously imbued with a false confidence that he will excel in an examination. Is this not simply planning for failure?

With very few people willing to tell them the truth, but rather stuff them with stupidities, are we then surprised with the NECO results?



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