There are proofs that some youths of today are plying the fastest lane to their destinations and so would rather put the cart before the horse just to actualise their dreams. Because they are the jet age and impatient generation, they learn to walk even before crawling. This is a peculiarity of many youths, especially the teens. They are so obsessed with the craze for mundane things that they even count their chickens before they are hatched, unmindful of circumstances that could lead to stillborn. Those within this fold, judging by their world view, have a penchant for chasing shadows and building castles in the air. They live in dreamland. Our leaders of tomorrow nurture tall desires for a golden future; but mere aspirations without commensurate sacrifice amounts to wishful thinking. Some of them are thirsty for good education – which of course is essential for liberating the mind from ignorance and utter darkness as well as for making tangible contributions to nation building; but the majority of them fail to know that acquisition of certificates is just an attestation to the fact that one has successfully completed structured formal learning within a specific time. Application of the skills derived from such educational pursuits for human and societal development is however the actual worth of academic certificates.
Some youths are ignorant of the fact that anyone who cheats in an examination in order to make brilliant grades has shortchanged himself/herself of the accruable skills, which invariably renders the certificate so acquired through dishonest means valueless. Any academic certificate acquired through crooked means often puts the holder in a tight situation whenever an occasion for proof of ownership arises. This is the predicament of majority of our youths who resort to cheating so as to pass public examinations such as the WASSCE, NECO and UTME. WAEC placed advertorials in the Nigerian Tribune of Thursday, June 7, 2018, in connection with “impersonation/restitution cases of candidates that had made confessional statements that they were impersonated in the examination indicated against their examination numbers, and so their certificates/result slips had been returned to the council for cancellation”.
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The foregoing revelation by WASSCE obviously clearly establishes incontrovertible evidence of massive fraud perpetrated by some students in the WASSCE and/or the Nov/Dec diet for private candidates. This worrying trend, given the dismal performance of some products from the system, demands urgent intervention by educational stakeholders and the general public towards nipping all manner of examination malpractices in the bud. In the 2016/2017 admission exercise, Nigerian universities had to bow to the mandatory order of the federal government by admitting UTME candidates who scored 200 and above as well as five subjects passed at the credit level or distinctions in the WASSCE, as qualification for the screening exercise. Candidates admitted to various degree programmes of the 2016/2017 session so to speak had their offers of provisional admission on a silver platter, without passing through the quality control mechanism of the institutions –the post-UTME test.
It will be recalled, however, that the University of Ibadan had, before the commencement of the 2016/2017 admission exercise, expressed reservations about the mandatory screening process imposed on tertiary institutions across the nation by the federal government, which it believed was not suitable for sustaining the quality of its graduates. It was little wonder when the university threw out about 408 undergraduates for failure to attain the required basic minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) to move onto the next level in their programmes. According to findings, three-quarters of the students expelled from the institution comprised 100 Level undergraduates who were admitted to the university without the post-UTME screening test. Now, a vital question to ask at this juncture is: Were the students rusticated from the institution not the brightest stars of their respective secondary schools where they had finished with ‘As’ and ‘Bs’ in eight or nine subjects in the WASSCE?
The lesson from the foregoing is that life often teaches those who willingly shun the narrow path to success bitter lessons. Again, not too long ago, controversy trailed the outcome of the 2018 Nov/Dec WASSCE because some results were withheld by WAEC. The hue and cry by the affected candidates was that the results that were withheld by WAEC denied them the opportunity of securing admission into tertiary institutions of their choice. Reacting to the hullabaloo, however, the body said: “Our investigations have shown that some of the candidates collude with supervisors to smuggle cell phones and all manner of technology devices into the exam hall for the purpose of cheating, and that some parents also aid the children to cheat.”
Parents have been indicted for backing their children to cheat, which determines to a large extent the altitude of their children in life. When the chips are down, it is these same parents who lent a hand to pulling down the future of their children that suffer heartache when their children’s quest for higher education is not realised. As custodians of the youth, when we labour to build edifices and skyscrapers which are perishable assets but fail to build our youths, who will consolidate the structures on the ground? Posterity, no doubt, will hold us accountable! When we fail to inculcate in the upcoming youths the values of perseverance, resilience and a strong will to surmount obstacles, we had better not point the finger at principalities, powers or forces of darkness for their shortcomings. Said Winston Churchill: “Let us begin to practice what we preach and preach what we practice to our youths.” Let us preach to our youths that in this era of internet revolution, one of the profitable ways of spending spare time is through reading, especially extensive reading.
- Oshokha is on the staff of Nigerian Tribune