By Uche Amunike
As the Basic Education Certificate Examination, (BECE), has gradually come to an end in Anambra State, the Academic Dean, St Dominic Savio Seminary, Akpu Orumba South LGA of Anambra State, Rev Fr Augustine Nnadi, has urged the Commissioner for Basic Education, Prof Kate Omenugha, to look into the lapses in the Education sector and find ways to correct them, reports Uche Amunike.
Speaking, in an interview during his visit to the Fidesplex, he expressed his dissatisfaction at the level of organisation of the BECE, saying that those lapses sometimes seriously affected the academic performance of students.
He made particular references to the Past Questions and Answers Booklet which contained all the past questions and answers of the said examination and which every student usually paid N120 for, but had not collected in the past three years, a situation he frowned against, noting that the students ended up purchasing them from the markets, despite having paid for them.
He opined that the said booklet, being helpful in preparing the students for the BECE, had made it imperative that the government availed it to students to aid in the pre-examination revisions.
He also decried the issue of the BECE Examination timetable which he said was usually made available only a few days to the examination day and also the numerous mistakes made in the examination questions.
His words: ‘It simply shows a lack of organization. As for the timetable, last year, it was released just five days to the examination day. This is wrong. The timetable should be made available to the students at least one month to the examination day so that they can properly prepare for the examination.’
Rev Fr Nnadi expressed his dismay at the aforementioned lapses while also frowning against the shift in the examination date from June to July, a move he said, left an impression of laxity on the part of the Education Board. This, he said, made him visit the Education Development Centre at Amawbia to make his dissatisfaction known to them. He expressed his surprise that they attributed the lapses to the Ministry of Education, as, according to them, the Commissioner did not release funds to them to work with which led to the lapses.
Rev Fr Nnadi confirmed that one of his teachers who was an examiner for the BECE had still not been paid and advised the Commissioner for Education to look into the problem of remuneration to aid workers to put in their best at all times.
He expressed his dissatisfaction that the BECE had not been taken in Anambra in the last three years and advised that the commissioner looks into it, while making it clear that he wanted her to be aware of the aforementioned problems just in case it had not been brought to her notice by her teachers and school heads.
He maintained that if she handled those lapses, Anambra State would maintain her known standard for over the years, after former Governor Peter Obi elevated it to great standards.
In reaction to these points raised by Rev Fr Nnadi, the Honourable Commissioner for Basic Education, Prof Kate Omenugha, assured that the shift from the June date was deliberately made because of the high rate of dropouts recorded, especially for girls in targeted areas like Anambra East and West, Awka North, and Ayamelum.
‘We also found out that the period when they get pregnant is when they finish primary six and when they finish JSS3. And what they do is that when they finish exams, say in May/June, they will stay July, August, September. Four months at home. And you don’t engage them in any meaningful thing. They get into trouble. So, we said we have to be taking exams as close as possible to the normal calendar year so that they go home and just stay for two months and come back. So, it’s a strategic planning. I said that two years ago and people complained that Junior WAEC was not taken.
‘I told the press that it was strategic and even this one, we communicated to Post Primary Board and ASUBEB. We told them this was what we wanted to do. Even last year, the exam was taken around the end of June to July. This year again, that’s what we did. We have to look at it because, when we make the time table yearly, it’s subject to change. So, it’s not only postponement at all. It’s something that was strategically planned so that the exam will take place,’ Omenugha stated.
Regarding the issue of Past Questions/Answers booklet not given to the pupils, the Commissioner assured that the problem had been taken care of, attributing it to logistics problems.
She assured that education remained a key Enabler in the Obiano Administration and that the Ministry had all hands on deck to see that value was added to the the Anambra child and society in general through quality education.
She expressed gratitude to Rev Fr Nnadi for showing keen interest in the education of the students under his care and encouraged him to bring out the best in them.