Controversy over fresh test into unity schools

In order to achieve merit-based admissions, candidates who took the last common entrance examination into unity schools are to take another test, writes GBENGA ADENIJI

There has been growing concern over the planned conduct of fresh test for pupils who passed the last common entrance examination. The National Examinations Council is prepared to conduct another test for the successful candidates to select the best for admission into Federal Government Colleges otherwise called unity schools.

The Supervising Minister of Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike, made the disclosure to theNews Agency of Nigeria, during the monitoring of the examination in some schools in the FCT.

Also, the Registrar of NECO, Prof. Promise Okpala, told NAN that the increase in enrolment of pupils for the examination this year was a proof of parents’ confidence in the quality of education service offered by the schools.

He said, ‘’A total of 95,926 candidates registered for the Common Entrance Examination into Federal Government Colleges in 2014, as against 88,444 in 2013. 18,726 candidates registered for the examination in the FCT alone, while Lagos State had the highest number of enrolment with 26,926 candidates. There was a decrease in some northern states, with Borno having 218; Yobe, 176; and Adamawa, 318. Zamfara recorded the lowest number of enrolment with only 113 candidates.’’

Reacting to the development, Principal, King’s College, Lagos, Mr. Dele Olapeju, who described himself as an advocate of second examination for candidates of common entrance, said the move was not new.

He said it was important for another examination to be conducted for the successful candidates under the purview of the Federal Government after the one conducted by the external body.

Olapeju said, ‘It is important to conduct another test for quality assurance. We know that some parents assist their children to obtain jumbo marks in examination such as the common entrance. But when you say there are two separate tests, parents will not be desperate to do anything to make their children score high marks because at the end of the day, there is still another test. It is a simple logic.’’

He also said cultism and unserious students are declining in the university system after the introduction of post-UME across universities in the country after the conduct of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination. ‘‘If a pupil is sure of his or her quality, let him or her face the second test,’’ he added.

An educationist, Dr. Ademola Azeez, however said a second test was  strange to Federal Government Colleges.

Noting that the guidelines on how the examination would be conducted should have been stated from the beginning, Azeez, added that the conduct of a second test was a manifestation of corruption in the education system.

He stated, ‘‘If a pupil performed well in the first examination, there is no need to subject him or her to another test. Such a pupil should be deemed to have performed well in the first instance and admitted to the school of his or her choice. The idea of conducting another test for successful pupils would be open to all sort of manipulation.’’

Also, Proprietress, Springside Schools, Arepo, in Ifo Local Government Area of Ogun State, Mrs. Titilayo Adetomiwa, stated that the second test was a laudable step that would bring sanity to education at the foundation level.

She however said such could be achieved if the second test was taken only by candidates who passed the first one. According to her, that is when one can genuinely justify the second test designed to ensure merit.

Adetomiwa said, ‘’Only those who performed well in the common entrance examination should be allowed to take the second test. This must be done with all sincerity.’’

On its part, Education Rights Campaign said it was opposed to double examination for pupils and students in both secondary and tertiary levels because it would reduce chances of admission.

The group, speaking through its National Coordinator, Mr. Taiwo Hassan, added that the second test would not bring out the best in the pupils.

He said, ‘‘We agree with the Federal Government that most times, pupils and students receiving secondary and tertiary education are not capable enough. But that situation is a product of the neglect of the sector over the years. It is not the fault of the scholars. Conducting a second test for the pupils will not bring out the best in them. What the government should do is to provide all the needed manpower and basic facilities in the schools and admit those who passed the first examination within the stipulated standard regulations.’’

Hassan further said the second test was designed to reduce the number of intakes into unity schools because they are not capable of admitting most of the pupils just like universities across the country.

In the same vein, a  former Dean, Faculty of Education, Lagos State University, Prof. Ademola Onifade, said one of the problems confronting candidates seeking admission into secondary or tertiary schools was their subjection to many examinations. He noted that such drains them academically and psychologically.

Onifade said, ‘‘In the US, the Graduate Record Examinations is a standard examination for those seeking admission into graduate colleges while the Graduate Management Admission Test is meant to test a candidate’s overall mental and quantitative skills for admission into a graduate management programme. These examinations are general. But in Nigeria, there are too many examinations for admission-seekers. This kind of situation is capable of draining them psychologically. One examination is enough for them and there is no need for another one.’’

According to him, the pupils who took the last common entrance examination should be screened with the results of the examination. Onifade also stated that the results should be enough to achieve the merit standard the Federal Government was hoping to achieve with the second test.

He added that when pupils are overstressed, given their ages, it would be difficult to get the best performance from them.

However, Wike, who spoke to NAN through the Director, Basic and Secondary Education in the Federal Ministry of Education, Daniel Uwaezuoke, further said the fresh test was in line with government’s promise to ensure that 60 per cent of admissions into Federal Government Colleges were on merit. He added that 40 per cent would be allocated on the basis of quota system.