More grace to the elbows of 2020 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) candidates and my colleague teachers relentlessly working around the clock to ensure their success. The Ministry of Education and the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) ought to be commended for the success attained so far in organising final examinations for students.
However, in the area of the BECE, my dear reader, you would agree with me that there is bit more they can do to help our children. Considering the fact that this examination (the B.E.C.E.) is the first national or final examination being written by our young candidates, one would expect that they are tested with only one subject within a day.
Over the years, candidates are coerced to study and write two (2) different subjects’ examination in one day. I have noticed that this practice has greatly contributed to the rate of failure and the mass examination malpractices experienced over the years since students, who had no ample time for a subject, would do just anything to pass the same. And the practice of writing examinations on two (2) different subjects within the same day is the major contributing factor to these menaces.
When we consider the final examination (WASSCE) organized for the grown up ones in the senior high schools, they write only one subject’s papers within a day. Once they are done with that subject, they go home or to their dormitories to prepare for the next paper, which usually comes off after several days or weeks.
The practice is the same at the tertiary level too. These matured brains which are capable of handling more stress are tested with only one course’s (subject’s) examination within a day. The private high school exams, popularly known as “Nov-Dec” and those of technical and vocational schools (NABTEB) is no different. For both regular and private exams, they write only one subject per day.
If things be so, why do we unnecessarily stress our young B.E.C.E. candidates in their first ever final exams to write two different subjects’ examinations in one day?
I have noticed pupils breakdown or fall sick going into the third day of the exams due to stress from staying night-on to study two subjects. It is true candidates are only to revise for their upcoming exam, but revising just one subject is a great deal of work. The average number of topics for subjects in the curriculum is twenty-seven. Only Religious and Moral Education has seventeen; but Integrated Science has as much as forty-six. How does WAEC or the Ministry of Education expect candidates to revise 27 or 46 topics in the few hours left after the day’s exams which usually closes around 2:45PM (plus additional 27 topics for another subject)? This is impossible!
The best thing we can, as a nation, do for our young B.E.C.E. candidates, who are inexperienced with final examinations, is to test them with as much as one subject’s examination in one day.
This stands to lessen the burden on them and increase their chances of passing for placement into senior high schools. After all, one subject a day would not even occupy two weeks compared to the months spent in organizing WASSCE.
Written by: Rich Akpalu
(Author of bestselling book ‘God in Me’)
Facebook: Rich Akpalu
The first edition of this article was published in the Daily Express Newspaper on Thursday 28 January, 2016 under the name Rich Y. Akpalu.