RECENTLY at a workshop for markers of answer scripts, the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of the National examination Council (NECO), Professor Promise Okpalla, admitted that there were noticeable lapses in the marking and scoring of students in its last examination. In his words, “We have had cases of candidates who lodged complaints on their results only for us to discover after remarking that there were sharp differences in the scoring between the two gradings.”
THIS can only happen where due diligence was not carried out at the marking venue. The workshop which was held in Minna, Niger State, was organised for markers of answer scripts as a part of the review process of the June/July Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSSCE).
WE thank NECO for admitting that there were problems with its organisation of the SSSCE. This admission of responsibility is significant because for many years, students have had issues with the results that were released for them by the examination bodies, including those by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB). As a result of the waning confidence in the assessments offered by these bodies, universities have introduced post-UTME screening and examinations to determine prospective candidates’ eligibility for admission to university programmes. NECO has blamed the mistakes on those that were engaged to mark and score students that sat for the examination. This is not good enough. There are more fundamental issues involved in the situation that NECO must attend to.
NECO must realise that there are likely to be many more students who were affected by the poor scoring than the few who were confident enough to formally protest the results they received as not reflecting their performance. The open admission of responsibility and willingness to redress these grievances by NECO will encourage more candidates who think they are inappropriately scored to seek redress in future. This means that NECO may be inundated with several complaints if it does not take fundamental and effective measures to address the issues associated with poor grading of scripts in future examinations. Naturally, those with genuine grievances but who were not confident enough to complain have lost time, effort and money because of the irresponsible conduct or incompetence of those employed by NECO to grade the scripts. Besides, it is improper that students would have to protest after taking the pain to work hard, before they can achieve a fair grading of their script.
TO address the problem of poor scoring by those who mark scripts, NECO should review the process of recruitment and remuneration of the markers.
NECO relies on teachers in secondary schools across the country to grade scripts. They are usually organised and coordinated in a decentralised arrangement. These process, though reasonable, is fraught with a lot of challenges. The first challenge is to ensure that only competent teachers are allowed to participate in the grading of scripts. Given the level of degeneracy in the education system, it cannot be taken for granted that every secondary school teacher with graduate qualification can grade scripts meaningfully. NECO must review its recruitment process. These pose both administrative and financial challenges.
IN the first place, NECO is reputed for paying its markers very poorly. For instance, teachers marking scripts in Mathematics for the ongoing NECO May/June SSSCE are paid N7, 112.5 for 250 scripts. This is broken down as follow: N8.25 per script marked, coordination allowance, N1,900, transportation N900 and a “lump sum” of N9.00 per script. This is not realistic given the cost of transportation as the teachers are expected to report several times at the marking centres for vetting by their team leaders. The teachers are expected to complete the marking in two weeks. Even this paltry sum is not paid promptly. There are several cases where after grading the scripts, the teachers had to wait for over a year before they were paid. Because of these, some competent and diligent teachers shy away from participating in the grading of NECO scripts. Some who take the job are not committed. Indeed, some even give the marking to their supposedly “smart” students or relatives.
ALTHOUGH NECO has promised not to relent in its responsibilities to render quality service to the general public through assessment, it must realise that it is under scrutiny because it has not met public expectation. We recommend that it completely reviews the marking of the June/July examination to ensure that candidates get fair scores for their effort. Apart from screening prospective markers (examiners) to ensure that only competent and experienced teachers are engaged, NECO must ensure that examiners are adequately remunerated and promptly paid. Those who prove unreliable or incompetent should be blacklisted from participating in the grading of scripts in future.
Source: Nigerian Tribune