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Despite mass failure fears, 2020 WAEC results better than previous years

“We didn’t ask the examiners to mark the candidates up in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. WAEC, as an examining body, cannot lower its standards,” Mr Ojijeogu asserted.

• May 6, 2021
Students writing WAEC
Students writing WAEC. [PHOTO CREDIT: The Guardian Nigeria]

Prior to the 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), not a few Nigerian parents and education experts feared secondary school final-year students would flunk the exam. They were worried that the results may be the worst ever recorded due to the COVID-19 disruptions.

WASSCE, which usually holds in May/June, was rescheduled to August/September 2020 because schools were shut down for almost four months to curtail the COVID-19 spread.

The WAEC results released on November 2, 2020, showed otherwise.

The exam results showed that 1,549,740 candidates registered for the 2020 WASSCE from 19,129 recognised secondary schools in Nigeria.

Of the number that registered for the examination, 1,538,445 sat the exam.

The result showed that 1,338,348 candidates, representing 86.99 per cent, obtained credit and above in a minimum of any five subjects with or without English Language and/or Mathematics. However, 11,295 registered candidates did not sit the exam.

From the analysis, 1,003,668 candidates, representing 65.24 per cent, obtained credits and above in a minimum of five subjects, including English Language and Mathematics.

This is a 1.06 percentage improvement on candidates’ performance in 2019 performance, in which candidates who obtained credit and above in a minimum of five subjects, including English Language and Mathematics, was 64.18 per cent.

On the contrary, 215,149 candidates representing 13.98 per cent of candidates who sat the exam had their results withheld for further investigation by the council owing to reported cases of examination malpractices.

In 2018, 49.98 per cent of 1,572,396 who sat the exam obtained credits and above in a minimum of five subjects, including English Language and Mathematics.

In 2017, 59.22 per cent of 1,471,151 candidates who sat the examination obtained credits in five subjects and above, including English Language and Mathematics.

Peoples Gazette spoke with education experts on the students’ performance.

Speaking about the development, Kehinde Ayoola, English lecturer at Obafemi Awolowo University, believed the results might have been “padded.”

“As a university lecturer and based on my experience, most of the students most have lost touch with what they were taught before the shutdown of schools for months. The pressure was much on students last year, and they spent more time at home. I don’t think they should have performed better.

“For instance, after the recurring ASUU strike, students resume performing poorly, not to talk of after the lockdown,” said Mr Ayoola.

He added, “Moreover, I don’t trust how they grade students. I don’t trust WAEC and NECO. When most of those students find their way into the university, they are always unable to defend their results, especially those with distinctions.

“It is really not new. Many of the students have a way of passing through the backdoor, so I don’t believe that result. They must have marked some up for most students.” 

Similarly, Olajide Charles, an education development practitioner, said results might have been marked up, but students, especially those in private schools, were exposed to digital learning, opportunities, and knowledge that must have helped them to ace their performance in the examination.

The project manager at Aid for Rural Education Access initiative (AREAi) explained, “It might be quite difficult to say the examination body marked up the score for students as a result of COVID-19 destruction on learning opportunities.”

He added, “There was a proliferation of digital and virtual learning, and students were more engaged in self-learning. There might be some underlying factors like examination malpractices, but we can’t categorically say the results were marked up.”

On the contrary, an expert of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and executive director of Brain Builders International, Olasupo Abideen, believes COVID-19 gave students enough time to prepare through digital learning.

“COVID-19 gave them an opportunity to leverage on remote learning and enough time to prepare for the exams.

“The challenges and pressure on them (students) were extremely much. Their families had the opportunity to monitor them. So, I don’t think there is a possibility of the scores being marked up. I just think the students had enough time and were determined to pass their examinations,” he said.

Weighing in on the matter, the spokesman for WAEC, Damian Ojijeogu, told Peoples Gazette the exam body maintained high standards.

“We didn’t ask the examiners to mark the candidates up in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. WAEC, as an examining body, cannot lower its standards,” Mr Ojijeogu asserted.

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