The 18 year-old NECO candidate who is writing his examination at Community Secondary School, Nkpolu, Port Harcourt, said his school had a good number of NECO candidates but stated that registration for WAEC had been higher, given the fact that people reposed more confidence in the latter.
He said that examination malpractices had become a cause for concern in the Nigerian nation-state. He said he was worried over the spate of the malpractices. The candidate stated that malpractices could only be checkmated, if government showed commitment towards eradicating it and noted that many teachers were making so much money through the illicit business.
Although, he exonerated his school from the vice, he pointed out that if government wanted to root out the problem, there was need for tight security at examination centres.
He suggested that the number of students registered in each school, public or private, should notexceed 100. Owubiko stated that it would be defeatist if examination malpractices were allowed to continue. “In certain schools, candidates were allowed to take away their papers, if only they returned with an agreed amount for the supervisors.
The student said examination malpractices had reached an alarming proportion and regretted that such things should be allowed to continue.
He noted that the two exams had the same level of malpractices.
Also speaking, Mr. Tonytex Ihua, a Port Harcourt-based businessman, said he was not happy with the state of public examination bodies in the country. He said both NECO and WAEC were not malpractice free.
Mr. Ihua stated that government had to act fast to discourage examination malpractices otherwise certificates issued by the examining bodies would become worthless with time. He said a situation whereby candidates are issued bogus certificates calls for national emergency.
The businessman opined that government should ensure that examination centres even in the remotest parts of the country were closely monitored.
Mr. Ihua said despite the fact that the discrimination against NECO had waned, he still preferred WAEC. He remarked that parents and guardians also preferred WAEC because it had come a long way.
According to him, “you see WAEC is a sub-regional examining body that conducts examination for West Africa and it is respected all over the world. It is not a Nigerian thing. But NECO is only conducted in Nigeria. However, Nigeria can really beat its chest that its national examination body is gaining wider acceptance. It is certainly a welcome development”
Mr. Ihua urged all and sundry to help in checking the phenomenon. “We can only move our nation forward if we conduct credible examinations. It is like what happens during our elections, where rigging becomes the order of the day. It is simply gabbage in gabbage out,” Mr. Ihua remarked.
At Baptist High School, Port Harcourt, the principal of the school, Mr. Dodo C. Dodo, who said he was too busy to attend to journalists, remarked that their students were not registered for NECO.
However, Mr. Friday Ogbugo, an educationist and social analyst who resides in Port Harcourt said the patronage for NECO/SSCE had fallen upon the withdrawal of government sponsorship by the Rivers State government. He said in some schools, nobody registered for NECO. According to him, “it underscores the preference for WAEC. WAEC and NECO may be at par by legislation but in truth, it will take time for them to be at par. You will find out that every school registers for WAEC SSCE, but not all schools register for NECO SSCE. But in spite of the shortcomings of NECO, it has continued to conduct its examination unhindered. It is heartwarming to have an alternative to WAEC SSCE”.
The educationist, who is also a minister of God urged parents to encourage their children to register for NECO since it is a Nigerian exam.
“We must appreciate what we have, WAEC is for the entire West African sub-region,” he stated.
On examination malpractices, Mr. Ogbugo said the two examinations were vulnerable to the same forms of malpractices and warned that unless cheating was discouraged, our examinations would become useless. He said the army of unemployed youths had found succour in the income generated from examination malpractices.
“Everyday cheating is being perfected. Teachers connive at it. Students hire ‘mercenaries’ and supervisors rake into their purse a lot of money during the both examinations. It is a national problem. It is not peculiar to NECO”, he said.
Mr. Ogbugo expressed optimism that examination malpractices could be checked but noted that individuals that earn a living through cheating during examination must find alternative means of livelihood.
He urged the government to create more jobs for the youths who after their university education remained unemployed. “You cannot talk about checking malpractices without thinking about providing employment for the unemployed graduates that roam the streets. Give them employment and see whether they wont be discouraged”, he further stated.
The former principal of defunct Christ College, Rumuebekwe, Port Harcourt said the nation would not get to the expected heights if things continued to go the way they are going.
Another candidate, Manuchim Ihunda, who spoke with The Weekend Tide, said that NECO was doing well and noted that he believed in NECO examination.
Ihunda, who is a 17-year-old candidate in one of the public schools, said he was optimistic that he would make his NECO examination. According to him, “I don’t see any reason, why anybody should castigate NECO. NECO and WAEC are two examining bodies in the country. It gives candidates alternative opportunity. Before one could only write one internal examination in one year but today one can write the two in a same year. It must be appreciated. Besides one can combine the two”.
The candidate said examination malpractices would be hard to stop because many people are benefiting from it. “The school teachers, supervisors, police and school principals as well as unemployed graduates who are hired as mercenaries are involved. It won’t be easy.”
The candidate, who refused to name his school, said examination malpractices had become a business and many people were involved in it including parents. “If it has to stop, it must start from the family, because parents provide the money for the children to use for malpractices”, he said.
However, the co-ordinator of National Examination Council, who spoke with The Weekend Tide through an intermediary said he was too busy with the conduct of the examination to speak with journalists.
Although, the intermediary disclosed that because of the centralisation in NECO, the state co-ordinator would not be able to speak on core issues pertaining to NECO and urged our correspondent to speak with the headquarters in Abuja.