By Danladi Al-Hassan
The National Examinations Council (NECO) has urged the Federal Government to formulate a deliberate policy aimed at promoting discipline and a culture of honesty among teachers, school administrators and students.
Mr Abubakar Gana, the Acting Registrar of NECO, who stated this in a brief submitted to the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, on the mandate and achievements of the Council between May 2018 and September 2019, called on the government to prioritise security of examinations just as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is provided security during elections.
Gana’s appeal comes as the menace of examination malpractice continues to hunt public examinations across the country, with NECO recording over 40,000 cases in its June/July 2019 Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE).
He said incessant “cases of examination malpractice especially impersonation and particularly collusion by supervisors, teachers and school administrators, who ought to be part of the army in fighting the scourge, was a major challenge in the conduct of the exercise.”
Gana said although NECO acquired 8,000 biometric verification machines before its conduct of the 2019 SSCE, the exam body requires more biometric verification devices to serve its over 16,000 centres and enable it to strengthen its efforts towards eliminating identity theft, which is the severest form of examination malpractice.
He said immediately after his assumption of office, he embarked on critical reforms, which had led to the successful conduct of the 2018 June/July SSCE under compelling circumstances and released the results of the examination within forty days of completion.
He further stated that the Council abolished the use of scratch cards following the scam that surrounded it, which led to loss of hundreds of millions in revenue, adding that it subjected all printed 2018 November/December registration cards to activation only after the money for each card must have been credited to the Council’s TSA.
“The Council successfully conducted the 2019 June/July SSCE. A total of 1,163,194 candidates registered for the examination conducted in 16,093 Centres in the 36 States and FCT between 20th May and 12th July 2019. The results were released on 27th August 2019 with a total of 829,787 (71.59%) candidates having 5 Credits and above including English Language and Mathematics,” he said.
“A total of 40,630 (3.53%) candidates were involved in the various forms of malpractice; 18 Supervisors were blacklisted for poor supervision; aiding, abetting and connivance with Candidates to perpetrate examination malpractice. Three (3) schools, one each in Katsina, Kebbi and Oyo States were de-recognized for two years for their involvement in Collusion and Mass Cheating,” he said.
Gana further disclosed that NECO had successfully developed and integrated the 2019 November/December SSCE registration software on its new website and regular registration for the examination has effectively taken off on 19th August 2019 and is scheduled to end on 28th October 2019 at 12.00 midnight.
He said due to successful blockage of financial leakages and increased prudence in the management of the Council’s resources, the Management successfully implemented 100 per cent duty tour allowance for staff, leading to the attainment of unprecedented industrial peace and good working relationship with all trade unions.
“From its IGR, the Council was also able to floor a significant portion of the waterlogged area of its Headquarters premises with interlocking tiles. In order to enhance security measures, the Council was able to provide solar powered security lights within the premises of its Headquarters.
“The Council was equally able to clear the backlog of unprinted certificates up to 2016. The printed certificates have since been distributed to all the states of the federation and the FCT,” he said.
Gana also noted as part of its achievements, the jettisoning of its former insecure website and development of an intractable, robust and secure corporate website www.neco.gov.ng, as well as a successful audit and complete overhaul of its ICT.
“The Council also successfully developed and used on the new website, a new and more user-friendly application used in the registration of 2019 National Common Entrance Examination (NCEE), this made the registration possible even on a smartphone, in addition to other devices. The application was also used by candidates and parents to check the results and admission statuses of candidates.
“The Council successfully conducted the 2019 National Common Entrance Examination (NCEE) for admission into Federal Unity Colleges on Saturday, 27th April 2019. The results were released to the Federal Ministry of Education and after the selection exercise by the FME, the Council posted the admission statuses of all the successfully admitted candidates which enabled them to enable them to check at no cost.
“The Council successfully developed on the new website, the offline & online registration software that was used in the 2019 BECE and June/July SSCE registrations and deployed full-scale biometric data captured during the registration process.
“The Council successfully implemented the Federal Government’s downward review of NECO Examination Fees regime as follows: NCEE (N2,500.00), BECE (N4,000.00) and SSCE (N9,850.00). The implementation was carried out in the registration of all NECO examinations this year,” he said.
However, the NECO boss noted that despite several achievements recorded during his tenure there were still challenges which include lack of reading and adherence to guidelines governing our operations is causing a serious impediment to the successful implementation of the on-going reforms; deliberate failure of school administrators to comply with laid down rules and regulations even where such rules were clearly spelt out for them, constitutes another major challenge.
“Dishonesty among some Principals and Proprietors of schools by providing falsified documents of their schools in order to secure Accreditation; increasing cost of logistics in the conduct of examinations due to inflation.”