By Lawrence Adenipekun
The phenomenon of ‘external’ students is quite a common one in Nigerian education system. It is an education/exam practice whereby candidates, sometimes ex-students or adults engaged in private studies, who did not formally pass through the four walls of a particular institution, mostly private schools, are allowed to register and sit for public exams, as students of such institutions.
But when you count schools that are into such practice, please, count Mandate Private Schools, Akesan, Igando, Lagos, out. This is what the Chief Learning Officer of the school, Rev. Sunday Attah, wants every Tom, Dick and Harry to know. So? If you are thinking of coming to the school to register as an external candidate, for any public exam, just bury the thought.
“Since 2007, we’ve stopped registering external candidates for SSCE,” Attah said in a chat with Education Review. “The reason is that we do not know the academic background or strength of these external candidates. We do not know whether they are morally upright or not.”
Add to the first this second reason: “We stopped registering external candidates in order to prevent exam malpractice in the school,” he added. “Also, we don’t want them to pollute our students. We do not allow our students to register for the November/December G.C.E. to prevent them from being contaminated by private candidates, many of whom are ready to cheat in exams hall if they have the opportunity to do so”.
He disclosed that the school’s intolerance for exam malpractice has instilled in the students the culture of self-reliance, hard work and academic excellence. “In the past years, the performances of our students in the SSCE have been outstanding,” he enthused. “The 2015 SSCE results of our students is a case in point. Apart from the three candidates who had eight distinctions and one credit pass, another three who had seven distinctions, two credits, and four who scored six distinctions, three credits each, others passed the exam with good grades that qualify them for university admission”.
The attainment of this feat every year by the school, he disclosed, is the result of the devotion of resources to staff training. For example, the Executive Director of the school and other members of staff were sent overseas for intensive training in school management and modern teaching methodologies. In addition a lot of internal and external training and retraining also take place in the school.
Attah explained that the federal government curriculum, which the school implements faithfully, prepares all students to pass WAEC and NECO examinations easily. He further disclosed that the British 1GSCE curriculum has also been incorporated into the school’s curriculum so as to equip the students with what obtains at the international level.
To achieve an effective implementation of these curricula, according to him, the school’s management has put in place ultra-modern and well equipped laboratories, well-stocked library, computer/ICT laboratory and fine art studio. These facilities, he said, are equally matched by the teaching of subjects which students need before they can be self-reliant in the 21st century. Among these new subjects are Leadership Training, Character Education, Financial Management Skills and Entrepreneurship Development.
The school owner, however, expressed dissatisfaction with high taxes levied on the school by both the state and federal governments. “Akesan community where the school is located is not a high brow area,” he argued. “As a result we cannot afford to charge high school fees because most of our parents are average parents. Yet we do our best to provide qualitative education. Government should slash these taxes because education is a social service that both government and the private sector must need to ensure that it is of high standards. The reduction of these levies by government is important so that private school owners will have enough funds to pay their staff and equip their schools for the educational development of Nigeria.”