Scrap­ping sec­ond NCEE test is apt

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion Malam Adamu Adamu re­cently an­nounced the can­cel­la­tion of the sec­ond in­ter­view test for the National Com­mon En­trance Ex­am­i­na­tion, NCEE. A state­ment by the Fed­eral Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion said can­cel­la­tion of the in­ter­view test would take ef­fect from the 2017/2018 aca­demic year. The state­ment said the min­is­ter could not es­tab­lish the ra­tio­nale for a sec­ond test for NCEE or­ga­nized by the National Ex­am­i­na­tions Coun­cil, NECO.

Adamu was quoted as de­scrib­ing the sec­ond test as an un­nec­es­sary ad­di­tional bur­den on par­ents and guardians. He said “the era of mul­ti­ple ex­am­i­na­tions at­tract­ing pro­hib­i­tive fees can­not be ac­com­mo­dated by the Pres­i­dent Buhari-led ad­min­is­tra­tion.” This, ac­cord­ing to the min­is­ter, “is against the back­drop of gov­ern­ment’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to in­crease ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion as a plat­form for break­ing the circle of poverty.” The min­is­ter then di­rected NECO to strengthen its pro­ce­dures and in­stru­ments for the ad­min­is­tra­tion of all ex­am­i­na­tions con­ducted by it with a view to achiev­ing qual­ity and cred­i­ble ex­am­i­na­tion re­sults in the first NCEE test for ad­mit­ting can­di­dates into fed­eral unity schools. Malam Adamu also said mul­ti­ple ex­am­i­na­tions do not nec­es­sar­ily trans­late into ad­mis­sion of qual­ity pupils into se­condary schools.

Min­is­ter Adamu also said 2016/2017 aca­demic year re­mains sacro­sanct as the ef­fec­tive date for the ban on post-UTME and he ad­vised vice chan­cel­lors to ad­here strictly to the pol­icy. It would be re­called that the min­is­ter had in June this year an­nounced the scrap­ping of post-UTME dur­ing a stake­hold­ers’ meet­ing held in Abuja to de­ter­mine the cut-off mark for can­di­dates seek­ing ad­mis­sion into Nige­rian ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions. NCEE is the achieve­ment test ad­min­is­tered by NECO for can­di­dates seek­ing ad­mis­sion into Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment Col­leges. It is a writ­ten test for pupils in their sixth year of ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion. From its re­sults, can­di­dates that meet the cut-off marks fixed for each state of the federation are in­vited for a sec­ond in­ter­view test be­fore fi­nal se­lec­tion into the 109 fed­eral unity col­leges.

Just like the scrapped post-UTME, NCEE in­ter­view test is widely seen as a need­less du­pli­ca­tion of ef­fort for one ad­mis­sion ex­er­cise. Par­ents take a lot of risks to travel with their chil­dren to write a sec­ond test af­ter hav­ing passed and ob­tained the re­quired cut-off point in the NCEE. The de­ci­sion to scrap the sec­ond stage of the com­mon en­trance test is there­fore apt and highly com­mend­able. In spite of the sec­ond test pro­po­nents’ ar­gu­ments, ex­perts in ed­u­ca­tional tests and mea­sure­ments as­sert that it is not the num­ber of times a can­di­date is made to write an ex­am­i­na­tion that re­ally mat­ters. The most im­por­tant thing, ac­cord­ing to ed­u­ca­tion­ists, is the qual­ity of the test items and the over­all cred­i­bil­ity of the ex­am­i­na­tion. A sin­gle but cred­i­ble ex­am­i­na­tion is bet­ter than mul­ti­ple tests that lack in­tegrity.

Pub­lic ex­am­i­na­tions have be­come an ex­ploita­tive means used es­pe­cially by pri­vate schools to ex­tort money from par­ents and guardians. School pro­pri­etors and man­agers sim­i­larly ex­ploit the ignorance of par­ents about some ed­u­ca­tional poli­cies of gov­ern­ment to over­stretch the lat­ter, com­pelling them to reg­is­ter their chil­dren for the NCEE as if it were a re­quire­ment for tran­si­tion from pri­mary to ju­nior se­condary stage of ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion. The 9-year ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme is free and com­pul­sory in Nige­ria. This means that tran­si­tion from pri­mary to ju­nior se­condary school re­quires no ex­am­i­na­tion. The ex­ist­ing NCEE ad­min­is­tered by NECO is ex­clu­sively for can­di­dates in­ter­ested in seek­ing ad­mis­sion into any of the fed­eral unity schools. The choice of writ­ing NCEE is there­fore op­tional for pupils tran­sit­ing from pri­mary to ju­nior se­condary school but many par­ents don’t know this.

While we urge the Fed­eral Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion to en­sure that re­spec­tive ex­am­i­na­tion bod­ies com­ply with the ban on sec­ond tests, ex­am­i­na­tion bod­ies should work hard to im­prove upon their ex­am­i­na­tion pro­ce­dures to meet up with global best prac­tices. Par­ents are en­cour­aged to en­quire from rel­e­vant agen­cies in­clud­ing LEAs and State Univer­sal Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Boards (UBEBs) each time they are asked to pay for ex­am­i­na­tions on which they lack ad­e­quate in­for­ma­tion.

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