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    Must Read! Making NECO's Life Easier

    There is cheery news from the National Examinations Council [NECO]: Candidates are sure November/December Senior School Certificate [SSCE] results will be ready to enable them pursue admission into tertiary institutions in the coming session. Until August 2016, it was not always so. 

    Credit goes to the Registrar of the council, Prof. Charles Uwakwe, who has made significant progress in the running of the body which is tasked with conducting the school based Senior School Certificate Examinations[SSCE], the Basic Education Certificate Examination[BECE] for Junior Secondary Schools and the National Common Entrance Examination[NCEE] into Federal Government Colleges[Unity Schools] in Nigeria.

    It is in this regard that you will understand what officials in NECO are going through. NECO is just an agency under the Federal Ministry of  Education. Those of us who attended school before 1999 are more at home with the West African Examinations Council[WAEC], established in 1952. While WAEC conducts exams for the five Anglophone West African countries of Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, the Gambia and Liberia, NECO is restricted to the 36 states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory.

     As they say in Delta: “This one na we own.” To understand the crisis in education, a look at the performance of some of the Federal Government Colleges in the 2017 SSCE exams will weaken our brain. Four of them: Federal Government Girls College[FGGC] Bauchi, FGGC Gboko, FGGC Gombe and  Federal Science and Technical College[FSTC] Kafanchan could not boast of a single student with credits in English language and Mathematics.

     For the 2018 NCEE, a total of 71,294 pupils registered to fight for placement in the 104 Unity schools across the country. Lagos State led the pack with 24,465 candidates, followed by the Federal Capital Territory, 7,699. Zamfara led from the rear with 28,then Kebbi with 50 and Taraba,95. It is remarkable that while NECO conducts the exams, the Federal Ministry of Education is the sole determinant of the number of students that will be admitted. It therefore does not follow that the less number of candidates a state registers, the less slots it will get in the admission process. 

    And while some states are disabled in terms of interest shown by candidates, they are leading comfortably with number of Unity schools in their domain. FGGC Gusau and Federal Government College [FGC] Anka are in Zamfara , with 28 registered candidates while Lagos with 24,465 candidates, boasts of four: Kings College, Queens College, FGC Ijanikin and FSTC Yaba. Kebbi, with 50 candidates, has three Unity Schools beautifying the state. They are FGC Birni Yauri, FGGC Bakori and FSTC Dayi. Only two are located in Anambra.  FCT has four while Benue boasts of four.

    We must commend Anambra State for its exceptional performance. In 2012, Sandra Anazor was the best in both NECO and WAEC Senior School Certificate Examinations. In 2013, the state came out tops in the same categories with Praise Agbasi, rising above everyone else in NECO.

     The duo of Chinecherem              Emeka-Egbuna and Chinazom Onubogu, from Anambra scored highest, 189 out of 200, in the 2017 NCEE. In the same exam, eight candidates made 4 over 200. A total of 77,512 pupils sat for the exam out of  80,421 that registered.

    Uwakwe has come with a new broom and is sweeping clean. And he is also not afraid of insurgency in the North–East. His examiners are presently in FGC Maiduguri, Buni-Yadi, Wukari, FGGC Monguno, Potiskum and Jalingo. NECO is also operating in  FSTC Lassa and Jalingo respectively.

     We are not likely going to hear ugly stories like ‘Owosho Scandal’ and ‘Expo ‘77’ because NECO, under the present dispensation, ensures prompt payment of honorarium to examiners, supervisors, external monitors and other ad-hoc staff.

     There is more hard work to do though. Prof. Uwakwe is an expert in Guidance and Counseling and Educational Psychology. I think NECO should also be proactive by engaging some stake holders in workshops.

     The Registrar is an international consultant with diverse World Bank, UNESCO, WHO and USAID background. And he is one of the great University of Ibadan baked scholars who made marks in Southern Africa following the footsteps of late Prof. Adelani Ogunrinade, the first African to come out with a Distinction in Medical Parasitology

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