After many years of witnessing a downward trend in student performance, the West African Examination Certificate (WAEC) results have hit an all time low, as 70% of candidates failed in the May/June edition this year. Many saw it coming considering the dwindling allocation of resources to education in the country and the lack of quality teachers, but the most important contributing factor has been the lackadaisical attitude of the students. It has not been so long since our time in secondary school but there’s been a massive drastic drop in the quest for knowledge. During our time, we wanted to be good, studied for long hours and even overnight and competed against ourselves. Education was an active, big part and source of happiness in our lives but nowadays, take study out of a student’s life and he/she will be happy. They like it easy and fun.
Success doesn’t just fall from heaven like our pastors want us to believe, it’s a result of hard work and proper preparation because you can’t give what you don’t have. Success is deliberate and so is failure. “There is no better future than through pen and paper,” were my grandmothers last words to me. For a woman who never saw the four walls of formal education and that I never saw her alive after hearing those meant I had heard from God himself and never took my books for granted.
The Bible says “study to show thyself approved”, but what do we see these days? Students are no more studying, they don’t. They are not driven or motivated by academic success anymore. Words such as hard work, determination, perseverance, goals and all that are constantly losing value. The reality is that boys and girls are more conversant with Skelewu, Kukere, Dorobucci, Ukwu, Gobe and a host of other words that hardly have any meaningful contribution to their future. Many of them don’t know anything other than what’s on TV. If Don Jazzy, Davido and the likes haven’t sung it, they won’t know it. Social networks such as Facebook and 2go have not helped matters, as they have become a hub for the waste of valuable study time. The whole day is spent “keeping up with the Kardashians”, chatting, and all sorts of rubbish.
Students are busy browsing “cheats” or “expo” for WAEC exams and even after the results are out, one of the most searched topics on Google is “how to check WAEC result without scratch card”, why would you want to do that? Typical Nigerian attitude of cutting corners and it went horribly wrong this time. WAEC’s board have argued that the abysmal performance is as a result of a clamp down on “miracle centres” and other exam malpractices, suggesting it has always been this way, but I bet not this bad.
I know there’s a lot for the government, parents, and teachers to do but without commensurate effort from the students, there can’t be a fix for this. There needs to be a change of priority and attitude in secondary students of this generation, they need to understand that there’s no way around academic excellence, hardly. Hard work and merit need to exalted and put in its rightful place for all to see and emulate.Until these students learn to take responsibility, we’ll be talking about this or even worse for a long, long time.
Usha Anenga via usha.com.ng and @UAnenga