Enugu school prin­ci­pals, exam cen­tres sacked over cheat­ing

Com­mis­sioner of Ed­u­ca­tion Enugu State, Pro­fes­sor Uche Eze, speaks on gov­ern­ment’s se­ri­ous­ness in re­vamp­ing ed­u­ca­tion. An ex­pert in ed­u­ca­tion psy­chol­ogy, Prof. Eze served at the Faculty of Ed­u­ca­tion, In­sti­tute of Ed­u­ca­tion, Univer­sity of Nige­ria Nsukka.

Daily Trust - - EDUCATION - From Tony Adibe, Enugu

There is a ru­mour mak­ing the rounds that the gov­ern­ment is clamp­ing down on pri­vate ex­am­i­na­tion cen­tres pop­u­larly called mir­a­cle cen­ters and some school prin­ci­pals. How true is this?

It’s true some of the cen­ters were sanc­tioned. Be­fore the re­cent Se­nior School Cer­tifi­cate Ex­am­i­na­tion (SSCE) started, I called a stake­hold­ers’ meet­ing where I told them that ex­am­i­na­tion mal­prac­tice has to go if we must pro­mote a so­ci­ety that can sur­vive. We all agreed. I told them that we have a team and we are go­ing to move around. We are go­ing to su­per­vise ex­am­i­na­tions and we would want to see that the can­di­dates write ex­am­i­na­tions in a fair en­vi­ron­ment.

The child should not be dis­turbed and no­body should do any­thing that is not ac­cept­able; some­thing that is un­eth­i­cal. We want our chil­dren to write ex­ams and demon­strate how much they have learnt so that based on their per­for­mance, I can assess my­self.

Dur­ing the ex­ams, I moved around with my team and un­for­tu­nately, we dis­cov­ered that some peo­ple did not heed to what we preached. In fact, we are still con­tem­plat­ing sanc­tion­ing more schools. I can re­mem­ber the name of one school in­volved in mal­prac­tices and when I got the re­port I or­dered that the prin­ci­pal be re­moved im­me­di­ately and made a class­room teacher be­cause he is not wor­thy of that po­si­tion or bring up our chil­dren.

We have pun­ished so many of our teach­ers who were su­per­vi­sors of SSCE for get­ting in­volved in one form of mal­prac­tice or the other. We are do­ing these things to serve as de­ter­rent. We also no­ticed that some pri­vate schools are in­volved in some of these things. In fact, by mid-July there will be an an­nounce­ment of two pri­vate schools we have closed down.

We shut them down; one, for run­ning a sub­stan­dard school and also for en­gag­ing in ex­am­i­na­tion mal­prac­tice. It is not ac­cept­able. Many par­ents, out of ig­no­rance send their chil­dren to such schools and what they get is what we may call ‘mise­d­u­ca­tion’ be­cause these chil­dren are taught that they can­not achieve by them­selves; that if they are not helped, they won’t be able to do any­thing.

And what hap­pens? They pay money. Then the chil­dren don’t read and they don’t do any­thing than to con­tinue to wait for help. And in the end, they get a cer­tifi­cate; the cer­tifi­cate may not help them be­cause they can­not do any­thing with such cer­tifi­cate. When we allow such schools that do not en­cour­age learn­ing, then we are en­cour­ag­ing crime in our so­ci­ety and who knows who will be at­tacked be­cause any­body could be a vic­tim, even the pro­pri­etor of such a school.

Can you give us an idea of the num­ber of schools or prin­ci­pals that have been dis­ci­plined so far? I can’t say the ex­act num­ber be­cause

what I nor­mally do is that I give di­rec­tive to the chair­man of Post-Pri­mary Schools Man­age­ment Board (PPSMB) to in­ves­ti­gate and he nor­mally car­ries out the di­rec­tive. Ba­si­cally, I think we have re­moved five prin­ci­pals or more for one of­fence or the other be­cause we agreed that the only way to re­store and build a proper sys­tem is to en­sure dis­ci­pline. Every­body must be held ac­count­able, start­ing from the com­mis­sioner. I have to play ac­cord­ing to the rules; the chair­man of the board has to play ac­cord­ing to the rules, like­wise the prin­ci­pals. When all of us that serve as mod­els do the right thing, def­i­nitely the chil­dren will fol­low.

Tell us about your ex­pe­ri­ence in man­ag­ing schools and the en­tire ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor?

Well, as you know, the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor is a very a large sec­tor and com­ing to a sec­tor like ed­u­ca­tion, there are some chal­lenges. When I was ap­pointed as com­mis­sioner, we dis­cov­ered this at­ti­tude which I think is gen­eral in Nige­ria; at­ti­tude of teach­ers not do­ing the work as ex­pected. We dis­cov­ered that some teach­ers were not go­ing to school. A lot of them go twice or thrice in a week and the con­se­quence was that most of the time you’d see chil­dren loi­ter­ing around dur­ing school hours.

This ugly sit­u­a­tion was not ac­cept­able to us be­cause we be­lieve that for any sys­tem to work there must be dis­ci­pline. We dis­cov­ered that things were hap­pen­ing that way be­cause we didn’t have a strong mon­i­tor­ing frame­work. What I did was to hold a meet­ing with my su­per­vi­sors and told them that things must not con­tinue the way they have been, that every­body should go out to the field. We have to mon­i­tor at­ten­dance, teach­ing and learn­ing in the class­rooms.

In fact, as a pol­icy, I told them that I would be 60 per­cent away in the field and 40 per­cent in the of­fice. I told my­self that I can­not achieve any­thing in this job if I stay in the of­fice and start sign­ing files only; that my job is ac­tu­ally in the field.

As I’m talk­ing to you, I have vis­ited the 17 lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas of the state. I have also vis­ited over 200 pri­mary and sec­ondary schools; what is true is that no­body knows where the com­mis­sioner will be the next day.

I will visit a school in Enugu North to­day, the next day I’m in a school in Enugu South and through that mea­sure I’ve been able, to­gether with the chair­men of PPSMB and State Uni­ver­sal Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Board (SUBEB), to en­sure that teach­ers go to school. But at­ten­dance is not enough; a teacher could be in school with­out teach­ing. And we be­lieve that the only way to help our chil­dren is if the teach­ers get to school and teach. Once the stu­dents get to know that the teach­ers are com­mit­ted; that the teach­ers must be in school and that the teach­ers must teach, they (stu­dents) will also be in school.

Pro­fes­sor Uche Eze

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