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Re: Gov Masari, pay all students’ WAEC/NECO fees

Kindly permit me to respond to a letter published on your website on 6th February 2016, with the above title. Over the eight months of…

Kindly permit me to respond to a letter published on your website on 6th February 2016, with the above title.
Over the eight months of Governor Masari’s administration, I’ve hitherto been critical of its policies. However,by using a mock exam as a filter to the state government’s long-standing policy of payment of secondary school leaving exam fees,I honestly feel that they have something right this time, and it will be hypocritical not to acknowledge it.
Over the past many years, Katsina State students have enjoyed payment of their secondary school leaving examinations from the state purse. At first glance, this may look like a good policy. However, looking at the success rate of students over the period of implementation of this policy, it is clear that it has done very little to improve education in the state. The pass rate for WAEC has remained between 10% and 15%.
Certain issues, such as the education of our future generation, should never be politicised. We must tell ourselves the blunt truth, no matter how painful it feels. The problem of education in Katsina has many perspectives: government, teachers, students and parents. And all of these issues need to be addressed, and mock exam contributes to addressing at least three of those perspectives.
By the way, mock examinations are standard practices in many parts of the world where education is taken seriously. It ensures students are better prepared, and helps identify their areas of weakness for improvement before the main exam.
The author of the letter I’m referring to has faulted the results of the concluded mock exam, where only about 10% of students got three credits or more. In my view, the results only reflect the readiness of candidates to write their main leaving examinations. Let’s be honest with ourselves: no matter how tough the mock exam was, it could hardly have matched the standards of WAEC/NECO. Therefore, how do we expect failures of an internal exam to go on to pass an external exam?
The author also made the point that WAEC/NECO certificates are the basic requirements for many jobs, but I’m yet to see any job adverts looking for secondary school failures, especially in this era when university graduates are roaming our streets looking for jobs. And if a secondary school certificate is the requirement to contest for governorship and presidential elections, are school failures the type of people we hope go on to lead our society?
Nevertheless, I agree with the authors call on the state governor to enrol his children into public schools, even if he has not promised to do so during his election campaign.
Finally, I hope the state government will undertake a holistic overhaul of the education sector, with all relevant stakeholders on board.
*Dr. M. Aminu * (MBBS, CertEpid, MIPH, PhD (ABD), FRSPH) is a Research Associate at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Pembroke Place, Liverpool, L3 5QA

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