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Arabic studies board adds alternative in SSCE

Many stakeholders believe that NBAIS could become a serious contender in the competition for excellence among examination bodies in Nigeria. Daily Trust reports that NBAIS…

Many stakeholders believe that NBAIS could become a serious contender in the competition for excellence among examination bodies in Nigeria.
Daily Trust reports that NBAIS has been in the business of conducting final year examinations for secondary school leavers since 1960s.
Until recently, the board was largely run by the Institute of Education of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.
However, with the recent approval by the National Council on Education (NCE) for the board to become a national examination body, NBAIS is expected to be conducting its activities like the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO).
Despite that achievement, the questions agitating the minds of many stakeholders are whether the board is ready for its new role and will tertiary institutions in the country recognise NBAIS’s results and certificate for admission of students.
The Ag Registrar of the board, Professor Shafi’u Abdullahi, said those asking such questions may not be conversant with the antecedence of the board and the law governing the operation of the NCE.
He said: “The syllabus we are using is the same with the one that other examination bodies are using. There is no difference whatsoever. We use same syllabus in Mathematics, English, Science subjects and other fields. The only place we differ is on Arabic and Islamic Studies because our syllabus is more comprehensive than theirs.
“For example, in Arabic, our syllabus covers all aspects of Arabic like the literature, grammar, composition and others. The same thing applies to Islamic Studies. Another area that we differ is that we teach our students all courses, including science subjects, in both Arabic and English languages and, therefore, they can either write their examination in Arabic or English language. The target is to produce students that are universal in nature, students that did not only speak and write in English but other languages, especially Arabic, which is recognised globally.
 “We have a record that not even in Nigeria, but in other countries of the world, of our students who are excelling in different fields of sciences. Another important issue that people should take into cognisance is the fact that the federal government has introduced and arbiter for students from different schools and those that sat for examination of different bodies. Every student must go through Joint Admission Matriculation Examination and subsequently post-JAMB before
he or she gains admission to any tertiary institution.
“By this arrangement, any student that sat for JAMB and post-UME, and passes, is qualified for admission. Moreover, where WAEC and NECO were certified, it was the same place that NBAIS was certified. The National Council on Education was the council that certified WAEC and NECO, and it was the same council that certified NBAIS as national examination body. So, what is the point of contention?”
Professor Abdullahi recalled the challenges that NECO faced when it was introduced as alternative body to WAEC.
According to him, some people went to the extent of going abroad to tell them that they should not accept NECO’s result, saying that the most important thing that Nigerians should understand is the fact that NBAIS certificate is similar to that of any examination body in Nigeria in terms of recognition and value.
He also explained that apart from the similarity of NBAIS certificate with other national bodies, NBAIS has added advantage that allows students to select and write examination either in Arabic or English language.
“We have all it takes to run a successful board. Our aim is to be
producing qualitative students that would become sound leaders and professionals in different fields for Nigeria and other parts of the world. You should know that knowledge has no language.
“This is contrary to the belief of many that you cannot become somebody unless you can speak or write English. This is one issue that is aiding our underdevelopment. For example, can you compare our development with China that teaches her students with their language?
“Most of the Arab nations teach their students in Arabic language. This is why in NBAIS we teach different languages like French, Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Arabic and English. And the advantages of this idea made me to personally advocate for teaching of Nigerian students in their mother tongue, as that has the potentials of speeding our development,” he said.
Commenting on the 2014 NBAIS examination results, Professor Abdullahi said about 31,200 students from 26 states and Abuja sat for the examinations.
This number, he said, fell below the number of last year where about 41,800 students registered. He attributed the fall to the insecurity in Adamawa, Borno, Yobe and Taraba where students from those states have failed to register.
Professor Abdullahi said that the 2014 examination has recorded
overall 85.63 per cent success with 72.92 per cent credit and above in English and Mathematics respectively.
While presenting the result to stakeholders at the ABU Zaria main campus, he said the 2014 NBAIS result also indicated 81.01 per cent overall pass aggregate in all subjects.
“By February 2015, the board would relocate from ABU to the Federal Ministry of Education, before moving to its permanent site, perhaps in Kaduna. The minister of foreign affairs had recently assured us that a circular will be sent to all embassies of Nigeria to ensure that their host countries recognise our body,” he said.
He also explained that apart from the students that sat for English and Mathematics, 26,825 sat for Arabic and Islamic Studies and scored 83.89 and 81.58 per cent overall aggregate respectively.
“NBAIS is conducting three different types of examinations for secondary school leavers, which include final year examination for Science, Arts and Tahfeez (Qur’anic memorisation) subjects. Candidates have a choice to write some of the papers either in English or in Arabic, as I said earlier.
“It is however unfortunate that the examination had recorded low turnout in the Northeast of the country due to present security challenges. North east used to be one of our strongholds, but we pray that things would improve before next year’s examination.
“The certificate we issue is known as Senior Arabic and Islamic Secondary School Certificate (SAISSC), and we conduct two examinations in a year with the first in June and July and second in November and December,” he added.
Commenting on the activities of NBAIS, the Director, Institute of Education, ABU, Zaria, Professor Yahaya Kajuru, lauded the recognition of NBAIS as a national examination body as well as the performance of students in the 2014 examinations.