Over the past couple of years the 6-3-3-4 educational system has been under the radar. Several analysts have recommended that the primary and junior secondary phase of the system be merged; the ‘6’ and the ‘3’.
Looking at the educational system especially in the rural areas, most parents (low income earners) end the education of their children and wards once the first certificate is acquired. The argument is that prolonging the ‘first certificate’ until after junior secondary would delay the sense of completion and push the education of these ‘poorer’ children further, especially the girls who tend to suffer prejudice.
However, the big question was the implementation of the ‘merger’. So many schools and structures have been built in line with the 6-3-3-4 system. If the system changes, how would the change be implemented?
• Would the uniforms change?
• Would the administrative levies change?
• Would the name of each level of education change? For instance would JSS3 become Standard 9? This change would mean a change in stationary, administrative document and just about everything else which would cost the schools, the educational committees, and the examination board a lot of money.
On Tuesday October 18, 2011 the Federal Government Tuesday inaugurated a high level committee to propose the modalities for the implementation of the recommendations of the Presidential Task Team on Education.
One of the recommendations in the report is that the 6-3-3-4 system of education should remain. The only adjustment would be the inclusion of a one-year Early Childhood Education (ECE) for five-year-olds, making it 1-6-3-3-4, Minister of Education.
The truth is that nursery schools have always been in existence and children take classes from Nursery 1 to Nursery 3. However these classes and schools are not compulsory so a child can skip these classes and begin right from Primary School.
Now one year of pre-Primary School would be compulsory. Media reports state that parents have over 3 years before this new structure would be implemented.
Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa’i, inaugurating the committee, and is reported to have stated that President Goodluck Jonathan “approved the recommendations of the report in line with further input made from the ministry after it was submitted.”
So, all sides have laid down their arms; we would on making the 6-3-3-4 system the best it can be. In the light of that; improving the technical aspects of the system would make a big difference.
The 6-3-3-4 system is laden with examinations all the way. Most typically, a learner must make a successful attempt at an examination to measure progress at a terminal stage in order to transmit to the next.
17 million pupils are expected to write the terminal exam after the first six years of primary education. These pupils are spread over the 36 states. They are thus spread over a very wide geographical area with a land mass that is well over 36million square feet and difficult terrains to navigate such as the Niger delta region and the Sahel zone.
We have to remember the bad roads, dubious education supervisors, lack of classrooms, increasing travel costs for examination officials, interception of examination questions and materials while in transit; the list is endless.
Over 34,000 secondary schools conduct entrance examination into various classes, this is not considering the national common entrance which over the years has become the benchmark for measuring psycho motor abilities of the 10 plus. In addition to that, well over a million young adults sit for the University tertiary matriculation examinations.
It is obviously a constant nightmare to put together a uniform and fair examination for this multitude. The future might lie in electronic testing.
At first it might sound absurd to begin to think about electronic testing in a country where internet connectivity is still under 17% and only one in 1360 households own a personal computer (PC).
But current internet ‘consciousness’ is driving up that figure. The massive use of mobile phones to browse the internet holds the key to whole new cyber-examination experience.
The CBN cashless policy could very well be another driver as mobile communication operators and banks are stepping forward to provide corresponding services and spreading their reach to cover more communities.
Once upon a time the examination board had to arrange for and ensure that every student who intends to sit for a university matriculation examination received his or her personal number code by post. This cost a lot of money and was riddled with errors. In addition to that they had to deal with the sometime irate crowd of youths waiting to collect their result slips. Tens of thousands of youths would queue outside these offices for weeks, under the sun and rain.
Today, all a candidate has to do is buy a scratch card and go online. Obviously the proceeds of the card is handy income for the examination council. These scratch cards, like the mobile phones were once considered ‘impossible options’ for Nigeria.
So who is to say a candidate cannot take his or her tests on his or her mobile phone. The online page could be ‘opened’ and ‘closed’ at a specific time when the candidates are to take the exams.
Every exam centre could receive a centre code each at the very same time the page is opened and the candidates would type in this code along with their personal code to open the examination page at that specific time. This would ensure that only those within the premises can take the examinations and no two people can use the same code. The possibilities are endless.
This is also a great investment opportunity. Electronic testing is the future for examinations in Nigeria and factors are lining up to ensure this happens. The environment now beckons on the brave investor to make the right move at the right time.
A few organisations are getting involved in the post Jamb test by offering electronic testing platforms for some Universities and they are making profit.
On the other hand, so many people have been cashing in on the current situation that they might resist the change. Also, school owners and managers who fear that the initial cost of a new order would set them back would fight against electronic testing.