Examination Council (NECO) was established in 2001 following the passage of an Act of the National Assembly. It was established as an alternative to West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE) for secondary schools. Consequently, students who are not opportuned to register for the WAEC Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE), could register for the NECO SSCE.
Ever since its establishment in 2001, it has prospered. Presently there is NECO examination for both junior and senior secondary schools including NECO General Certificate in Education (GCE).
Despite its teething problems, which occasioned discrimination against its result by some institutions of higher learning in the country, it has continued to subsist. At first, there was low enrolment resulting from initial misgivings about the quality of the examination and its acceptability worldwide.
The initial misgivings were based on comparative assessment between WASC and NECO. As it were, WASC had acquired a better reputation as a sub-regional examination, while NECO is entirely a Nigerian examination. Those who harboured the intention to use their results beyond the African shores were not comfortable with NECO examination.
But with the federal government solidly behind NECO, it has been able to overcome its initial hiccups and has acquired its reputation as an examing body.
Currently, NECO examination is being conducted across the country. One problem that confronts the examining bodies in Nigeria is that of examination malpractices.
Speaking with The Weekend Tide, Mr. Biodu Joseph Agamoh, a Mathematics teacher at Charry International School, Rumuodomaya, said that NECO examination had come a long way. According to him, “NECO has the same standard with WAEC examination. But initially, NECO examinations were not as qualitative as the WAEC. It was considered cheaper, as a result many candidates did better in NECO examinations than they did in WAEC. I think that brought a lot of criticisms and discrimination against NECO results but today it has stablised”.
He said NECO had become an examination to reckon with and pointed out that NECO received a boost during the administration of the former governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, as students of Rivers origin in public schools were registered by the state government. “NECO examination enjoyed an unusual patronage in Rivers State as the state government sponsored the registration of candidates of Rivers origin.
The school teacher said that there was no examination malpractices in Charry International School, Rumuodomaya because the school had quality teachers and a plethora of learning materials.
Mr. Agamoh expressed optimism in the ability of his students to do well in the examination unaided. He condemned examination malpractices and described it as a cankerworm that should be eradicated in order not to jeopardise the future of our country.
He explained that there was a high incidence of examination malpractices in the country and warned that something must be done to change the scenario.
The introductory technology teacher stated that all hands must be on deck to root out examination malpractices in the country.
Also speaking, the principal of Wesley Methodist Secondary School, Harbour Road, Port Harcourt, Mrs. Edna Okpo, said the enrolment of students in NECO examination in 2010 had increased, when compared with the enrolment last year. According to her, last year, there were about eleven students. But we have 27 students this year.”
Mrs. Okpo said that the enrolment had appreciated. A teacher from the same school, who undertook the registration, Elder Sahi Bamanja, said that he preferred WAEC registration to that of NECO and noted that NECO registration was cumbersome and stressful.
He described WAEC registration as better organised and explained that one would be given everything needed by WAEC upon payment, while in NECO registration, one would need the assistance of the authorities to cope. He said that the situation occasioned some difficulties resulting in late registration of students, and added that their school did not handle external candidates so that their students for WAEC and NECO were the same.
Also speaking, the principal of Greenfield Secondary School, Port Harcourt, Eneyo Atisi, said the enrolment of students in NECO and WAEC was basically the same.
She also noted that their students’ enrolment had not changed for either of the exams because they didn’t deal with external candidates. She said 28 candidates from the school registered for both examinations.
“In some secondary schools, students prefer registering for WAEC to NECO because of the antecedents of the (National Examination Council), the latter,” Mr. Simple Owubiko one of the candidates for NECO said.
Owubiko, who hails from Rivers State, said the withdrawal of government sponsorship for NECO examination had impacted negatively on the fortunes of the examining body and pointed out that this year, the students enrolment had dropped drasticaly.
According to him, “Candidates of Rivers origin began to patronise NECO greatly as a result of the sponsorship by the state government but I wonder why the government has withdrawn its sponsorship”.