Prince Charles Dickson
Jos, Plateau, Nigeria

I have written countless articles, features, done interviews, spoke on occasions, seminars and what not, on our educational sector.  Truthfully I guess the only thing I have not done is to pray and fast.  Once or twice I have prayed, to fast would mean crying wolf to those who believe that all is well in the educational sector, people like the President, the Minister of Education, the House Committee on Education, NUC, JAMB, WAEC and all those education policy makers.

Only last month the West African Examination Council held its annual ritual called the May/ June exams. And a day to one of the papers, a particular subject was published on a national daily newspaper.  The exams still held the following day.  I cannot begin to imagine how may thousands of students saw the paper, in a particular metropolis in Plateau, the photocopied question paper was being sold for an “expensive” N10.00 (Ten Naira only).

Shamefully I ask was it that the authorities in WAEC did not hear, see or smell the leakage, No! No! No! Not even one staff in the entire WAEC saw that newspaper.  And then the exam still held. Several weeks after the paper and some three other subjects are being rewritten by candidates.

Still baffling is that no one has been fingered as being involved or being behind the scam.

Where do those papers “leak” from? The Printers, the Teachers who set the questions, WAEC staff or ghosts, maybe still angels.

For the printers, the printing of exam questions is supposed to be a high-risk venture, which requires all the security one can get. However I will hazard a guess that these questions are printed under the Ojulegba Bridge in Lagos and distributed along schools by gifted area boys.

For the teachers, they have claimed that even after they set questions, WAEC always alters it, so they cannot even be sure of what the final questions look like. Na wa I hear you the next thing I would be told is that Jesus is a woman after all is that not what the students write that make them record mass failure in the Christian Religious Paper and for their Muslim counterparts who are so sure that Mohammed was born in Jerusalem. Same teachers who hang about exam venues or rather exam hall windows throwing in missiles like the ones that facilitated the capture of Saddam Hussein at the rate of ( if you papa pay better money for this exam you suppose pass) meaning services are rendered by these teachers on the bases of the higher the pay the better the commitment.

On the part of the examining body WAEC, they let us know that they posses staff of proven integrity.  I hear you brother! No one is a thief until he/ she is caught. I was told of a joke that has been confirmed by a friend who just returned from heaven that God has dismissed all the examiners that are Nigerians in Heavens examining body for leaking papers on when Jesus will come. How much more the Nigerians on earth…these Staff who perpetuate these heinous crimes whether it is called "expo" “ "mssiles", "leakages" or whatever.

If all these people are not culpable I will send my complaints to God. For certainly the culprits must be ghosts or angels.

What do we really expect, if the music is sweet, the head, legs, waist would all move. Forging, certificate racketeering, falsification et al is not new neither is it news, so exam leakages should not be serious.  When parents connive with WAEC officials, teachers, principals to buy exam papers, then we should keep crying for ourselves.

Sometimes we open our mouth, pick our pen to write about stealing, corruption in high places but we simply forget the role we play as parents.

Fathers and mothers pay what we call mercenaries to write exams for their kids, and wards, what do we expect? Buffoons in the name of graduates leave our ivory towers year after year.  If you could not write a qualifying exam yourself or had to rely on the paper that leaked what can you offer years down the lane.

Some one suggested that WAEC exams should be written online and I smiled as I told my guest that you would then know that Bill Gates is a Nigerian, the exams would be hacked by someone somewhere somehow.  Oh my beloved Nigeria!

To a salient issue is the WAEC exam or any exam at all, the true test of knowledge? Is it not true that the Nigeria craze for paper qualification has done the system so much harm, making the desire for a pass an insatiable one. Most of the great minds, we have and had were all never the pass nine subjects’ kind of people.

I stand to be corrected that even WAEC itself as an examining body has been contradictory in its results on several occasions where very intelligent students by all standards fail papers and dull students pass or is it cases that students to pass Economics and fail Commerce, or pass English Literature and fail English.

Talk about wonders, how a candidate keeps passing all his/her papers yet fails English continually year in year out.  Result are seized and released anyhow.

These inconsistencies, no one has deemed it fit to explain.  The recent exam paper leakage has come and it is going like one of those many issues on our geographical national map of scandals.

I make safe to suggest that it’s high time we retrace our steps. Too much focus on the pass this exam syndrome has caused us. When so much value is placed on a University qualification rather than practical knowledge and hands on ability. Technical ability, flair and natural talent is abandoned for the sake of written exams. I also at this point suggest the introduction of individual oral tests to determine University admission and placement to curb this menace.

As long as the O/Levels as set by WAEC and other such bodies is a requirement for University placement including a high JAMB score, students, parents all connive to dance the if you cannot beat them join them sound track.

This is part of our educational mess and the story gets worse.  May God help us.