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NERDC BEGINS RESEARCH ON STUDENTS' PERFORMANCES IN WASSCE

By NBF News
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RESEARCH activities to determine both the psychometric characteristics of public examinations being conducted in the country and the relative performances of students, who gained entry into Nigerian universities with certificates obtained at one or two sittings, are currently being undertaken by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC).

This is coming on the heels of continued dismal yearly performances of candidates in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) being administered by WAEC, and the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) being conducted by NECO.  Between 70 and 80 per cent failure rates have been recorded among candidates over the last five years. The focus is on both WAEC and NECO..

Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Dibu Ojerinde had also applied the psychometric principle in reshaping the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations questions, formerly known as the Universities Matriculation Examination (UME). He had told The Guardian in an interview, that while the joggling method adopted by JAMB during the tenure of former Registrar, Prof. Bello Ahmad Salim was effective in crippling the activities of the cheats, it was discovered that the method also made the examination more difficult for some candidates than others.

Ojerinde's argument was that since joggling ensured that no two candidates had the same question in the same sequence (Question 1 in Physics for Candidate A is different from Candidate B's Question 1 in the same subject and examination) some candidates were lucky to face simple opening questions in various papers, while others encountered harder questions, which, according to the JAMB boos, could have had a negative effect on their performances, leading to poor results.

However, the NERDC's motive for embarking on the exercise was to assist it appraise, among others, the effectiveness of the curricula for various subjects currently in use in secondary schools. The council had, last year, reviewed and upgraded 40 mainstream Senior Secondary School subjects' curricula, just as it developed the 34 Senior Secondary School (SSS) Entrepreneurial Trade version.

The intention, according to Mrs Theresa Oresanya, NERDC's Public Relations officer, was to ensure that SSS graduates acquire functional skills for job creation and for the pursuit of further studies in relevant trades.

By September this year when the curricula are due to be implemented in schools, what is being envisaged is 'uninterrupted curriculum content flow from primary schools, through the Junior Secondary School (JSS), to the SSS level.' The effect is also expected to be felt in the 100 level university programmes.

Besides, Oresanya revealed that the council carried out a survey into the implementation of the use of Mother Tongue in the first three years of primary education in Nigeria, to determine its effectiveness last year. The late Prof. Aliu Babatunde Fafunwa was an advocate of this principle and had started the process during his time as Education minister.

The council, as part of its Language Development function, also developed curriculum for Kanuri, Fulfulde, Izon, Edo and Tiv languages at the basic level. It also, collaboration with the Rivers State government, developed orthographies in 14 non - dominant languages spoken in the state. They include: Eleme, Ogba, Degema, Ecchie, Egbma, Gokana and Kana. Others are: Okrika, Abuan, OduL, Ndani and Ibani.

Students with special needs were not forgotten. An adaptation of each subject at the secondary level is being undertaken. At the last count, five subjects - English Studies, Mathematics, Biology, home management and civic education have been covered. The purpose for the adaptation, according to Oresanya 'was to ensure inclusiveness and equity in the educational provision for learners with special needs.' She also affirmed that plans were underway to complete the adaptation of the entire SS subjects before September this year.

Already, the council last year carried out an assessment of the new 9 - Year Basic Education curriculum, which started running in September 2008 and was applied in Primary 1 and the JS 1 classes. Oresanya stated, 'in order to ensure quality delivery of the curriculum, the NERDC developed an action plan with clearly defined timelines for assessing the implementation of the 9 - Year basic education curriculum. The first phase of the plan involved Focus Group Discussions (FGD) held in the six geo - political zones. In attendance were state commissioners for Education and various other stakeholders.'