Why JSS Exams In Nigeria Are A Waste Of Money

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Every year millions of Naira are spent so that Nigerian students can gather into various exam centers across the nation to write what is in my opinion one of the most useless exams in Nigeria … the JSS exam.

An exam that nobody ever really uses for anything, it is not required for any job, no embassy ever asks for it, and contrary to popular belief not even Secondary Schools really require it but yet every year without fail, millions of Nigerians gather to write the exam. Why? Why are we spending resources to write an exam that people barely use…that serves no real purpose?

After all, some people will argue that in the Nigerian 6:3:3:4 educational system the JSS exams are justified…

You get 6 years of Primary school education and then you write the common entrance exam, then another 3 years of Junior Secondary School and then JSS Exam, which is needed on paper to enter your last 3 years of Secondary school aka Senior Secondary School. But let’s stop here for a moment, when was the last time you stumbled across a purely Junior Secondary School in Nigeria? Try never…

For the most part, Secondary schools in Nigeria are 6 years. It might be called JSS/SSS on paper but in reality and execution all six years are one and the same. But yet every year, we write this special National exam that we cannot even afford to write … all because we have always done it this way!

What will happen if we stopped writing JSS exams in Nigeria?

Let me tell you…absolutely nothing. Nothing will change. The JSS3 students entering SSS1 will not be more/less prepared, teachers will not be better, more jobs will not be created. Absolutely nothing. Okay I take that back … something will change …

In 2012, N400 billion (8.4% of the Nigeria national budget) was allotted to education. Of this amount, and this is key 345 billion (82%) was dedicated to recurrent expenditure (salaries, overhead costs, etc) while the remainder was dedicated to capital expenses (aka Campus facilities and buildings).

Let me help you understand that a little bit … of our entire National Budget only a measly 1% is set aside for building/maintaining educational facilities. The majority of our educational money is spent on over head costs like … drum roll … JSS exams.

Exams cost money, but stupidity costs even more money. There is a reason why our University facilities are shitty.

Now, I am not saying eliminating the useless JSS exams will automatically transform our university facilities. However, what I am driving at is this … if we do not get an educational minister or leader bold enough and aggressive enough to cut costs in useless overheads like the JSS exams, then our students will continue slinging shit over the fence.

NOTE: The United Nations Educational and Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recommends dedicating at least 26% of a nation’s annual budget to the education sector. Nigeria’s dedicates only 8.4% and of that already small 8.4% only a tiny amount (about 18%) is used to improve our facilities.

Nigeria…the problems are plenty the solutions are kinda obvious.

education

Reference: Phillip Consulting Educational and Employability Survey Report March 2014. Click education_survey_report_mar2014 to download the report.

twitterWritten By Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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Ofili

Author: Ofili

Words by Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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39 comments on “Why JSS Exams In Nigeria Are A Waste Of Money

  1. Christian chinedu on said:

    I don’t honestly think the jss exams is entirely useless. Am a product of the former 5yr system, class of 87. Luckily, my first kid is about to write the jss exam. For all the negatives that may be associated with this system, my excitement steams from the fact (as i see it) that my sons zeal to study has increased, obviously because he has been made to believe this exam is very important to the extent that it is external and failure will have huge consequence. For me it is important that students see the jss exams as very important. Thanks.

    • Ofili

      A zeal to study is not a reason for a national exam. We are bleeding for money in our educational system but are spending millions on an exam to improve people’s zeal to study? After school they would still write ssce, jamb, neco and then university exam. For what? In Finland they have one national exam and their educational system is way better than ours. Anyway we all have the right to disagree.

  2. I do agree that the exam is pretty useless but in a country that there is little in-depth supervision and oversight of what schools are teaching I think the JSS serves as some sort of Mid-term exam of Secondary School Education to ensure students are on the right track. The money could be used for something better though. There used to be purely SSS schools like Pyakasa Senior Science School somewhere in Abuja but I do not know if they exist anymore. Obj tried to solve this problem you speak of by changing our educational system to a 9-3-4 and have the first 9 years as a Basic education stage but subsequent administrations threw that to the wind.

    Long Story Short, The JSS exam should be scrapped but we need to harmonize curriculum and ensure our students are learning the right things. I remember in primary school because we had 3 subjects in the common entrance (math, english and current affairs) my private school taught only that from primary 4 so that we would ace the common entrance (we did at the expense of learning other stuff like languages, music , science and so on…), Perhaps the deeper problem is a results oriented society that doesnt value the means taken to get the result (cheating, monotonous education etc)
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  3. sblinky on said:

    There are government schools that have purely different structures for JSS and SSS with 2 different principals. However i agree the exams to the different schools do not need to be on the national scale.

  4. Oluwafisayomi on said:

    I beg to diversify from the topic of discuss,but shift gears to Nigerian educational system as a whole.It is shitty,useless,baseless nd very disheartening.As a teacher,today I was part of the team to supervise the Economics paper of the on goin Waec exams nd it was extremely disappointing for me to see the external invigilator agree to the answers being written on the board for the students,who themselves were sitting patiently waiting for that moment not even attempting to start. I earn my keep there,so I bore it for a bit nd stylishly walked out to go wrk on my lesson note.One whole year of rigorously preparing these kids for waec was defeated in d blink of an eye because some people in power are too greedy to turn down money,so they figured “what the hell”? We teachers who frown at this everyday,pray that perhaps they’ll send us an external invigilator who wud refuse the temptation,but all we get most of the time are people who already concluded hw much they’ll agree wif the school afta bargainin,nd wat ways to spend the ill gotten cash….it is sad!

  5. My results didn’t come out until I was in ss1 and these results aren’t even real. When the whole school as a somewhat rhythm to the result, everyone had p in computer science, and c in some other courses and these is applicable to the absolute best students in the school. I didn’t for the exams, rather I invested my time in novels and I am in my final year in the university- thanks to asuu that is. While in ss1, my colleagues and I spoke about the uselessness of the exam and it was during this exam that I first did my exam malpractice- some people imputed some answers into the calculator and were passing it round, it was passed to me with the instruction of passing it to someone else but I wanted to know what was in it, I checked it saw the answer to a difficult question, thanked God for small mercies, answered the question then passed on the calculator. Abegi, make dey scrap am jor. There was a year in my school they asked those already in ss1 that failed to rewrite the exam but that didn’t hinder him from moving on to ss2. It should be scraped and save tax payers money.

    • It isn’t much of a hurdle if you only write it for writing sake knowing fully well that what determines if you go to the next class is the school exam that you wrote before it. In my school, we wrote a mock exam before writing it and it was the result of the mock exam that was used to allocate us. It isn’t an hurdle but an expensive game piece

  6. Amaka on said:

    Dear Ofili,

    Let me assure you that the people who make these policies are well aware that many things in our budget are not necessary. Some of the best minds in the country are employed to run things but the truth is, they are not looking out for the best interests of you and I or Nigeria as a whole, their only interest is Self interest. Are aware that contracts are given out for these exams? Are you aware there are kick backs and deals involved? The other day I heard our current IG’s son has a Bugatti Vereon (Did I spell it right?) and an Audi something that everyone was going nuts about. Or Justice Uwais son wearing a Disgrono watch( I don’t think I spelled that right either).

    You see everybody is interested in themselves not what is good for the country. So if JSSCE is earning them money, they are unlikely to do away with it.

  7. Ofilispeak you really making a good point out there. My question is that why do we write Mock Exams before the normal WAEC? I think its a way of preparing the student of what there are going to face in the upcoming exams. So if the JSS might sound useless or a waste of funds, its prepares the student for something else. I’m saying this from the experience I gathered from this exams. I had all d experience I needed for WAEC. It was a good one for me though. So to me it advantages still supersedes the disadvantages. Moreover, will our government even make use of the funds well if they scrap it off. The money will still go into some hoodlums account. Js sayin’

  8. Another excellent write up from Ofili. The rationale behind the exam has always been that it was deciding factor for who goes into the sciences or arts. Having taught at a University here in the States, i have come to realize that standardized tests are not a good way to measure knowledge. Some people are really good test takes, but suck at everything else.

    I only hope that more people read these nuggets of wisdom you are throwing out there. As for me, i go like marry your brain, cos you make too much sense…lol
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  9. You’re absolutely right, have never thought of it though. You see why we need bright, young minds like yours in our policy planning.

  10. The thing is that even if there are purely separate schools like that, they don’t use the jss exam to enter the senior school, I guess it is just for them to apply to the school of their choice, write the exam organised by that school and their results determine their fates not the jss exam. And in osogbo the government just distributes them into schools not jss exam. Also bear in mind that the the results doesn’t come out until the commencement of ss1 so it isn’t helping in putting people into classes. And it isn’t a good measure of allocating people into classes, if they want to do that they should administer aptitude tests and intelligence tests. Actually these tests should be administered normally but they are not in favour of useless exams. The psychological tests are a far better method of putting people into classes and knowing where they fit into. My school put me into science class based on my results and I wanted to go to art class and my sister was put in commercial class while she wanted to be in science class, she changed although they spelt out doom though now she is doing well in the university studying a science course almost in her third year. The long and short of my story is that the exam isn’t a good way of putting people into classes and even that it isn’t doing it as it comes out late and separate secondary schools don’t use it when admitting people into ss1. Whew

    • Thank you Seyi. Based on my JSS results I was put in the Sciences on the medicine path because I did better in Integrated Science and Agric Science versus Intro Tech.

      I was in the middle of studying for Agric Science in SSS1 one morning, it was so easy but I had zero passion. I had no idea what entered me but that day I just went to my teachers and told them I wanted to switch to the technical field. No idea where I found the confidence.

      But thank God I did cause I would probably be in a surgery room by now passing out again and again….lol

  11. Tom on said:

    Ofili, a really great job you are doing. Am actually in support of this idea. JSS exams is a waste. The money should be invested in building better schools and raising the standards of education in the country.Thanks

  12. Oke Muritala on said:

    Ofili,

    the issue shld not be labored. I could remember that my JSS 3 exam actually was the epitome that launched my academic brilliance in the N.U.D Secondary school oke ijeun Abeokuta. If properly done the JSS Exam shld help the students to have a taste of what SSS exams looks like. So i am in its support.

    Fine, merging it with the resources expended and the fact that it is actually not been used for job nor promotion etc could be a factor. We can look at other climes and see what they do there so that we can learn from them. My point about the money been spent is that ordinarily the JSS will do 3rd term. so if instead they now do ‘external exam’ the expenses could still be in between. Couple with the fact that at least some students would ve learnt something from it is a point that its not totally useless. we can now begin to say what are the percentage of students that learnt something in it and those that didnt to arrive at its usefulness or otherwise. Researchers can help us out.

    Have a nice day

  13. Jum Ben on said:

    I don’t agree with the idea of scrapping the exam. What government should do is to make it count. Let students feel there are rewards and consequences if you pass or fail the exam. BECE, as they call it now, is a great interlude in a secondary student’s life. A child that passes through serious 3-year academic programme, a programme as fundamental as the JSS education, should be tested in a structured exam like BECE by an external body. This will clearly show whether a child is ready for the senior class or not. Curricula for SSCE and BECE serve different purposes, but one is designed to complement the other for complete secondary school training. It’s like Masters and Bachelor Degrees. While the latter covers almost the entire course of study, the former narrows down to specific areas in the same field for specialization. For a potential science student in the senior class, there are elements of Physics, Chemistry, and Biology in the Basic Tech and Basic Science being offered in the junior class. Same goes for Business students, whose Accounting, Commerce, Shorthand, Typewriting, and Economics are already embedded in JSS’s Business Studies. There should be a platform to properly examine a child’s readiness for these programmes at an higher level. To make it count like I said, government can:
    1. Make it one of the compulsory requirements for gaining entry into higher institution of learning. If universities, polytechnics and other institutions of learning demand SSCE results and primary school certificates, why won’t they add BECE results to the list? Why would this certificate be less important to the ones mentioned if all are obtained after certificate exams in the system of education we are operating?
    2. Government should also make it one of the basic educational qualifications for public and private jobs. No child will play with it, if he or she knows it will be demanded when looking for job in the future.
    3. Like the senior certificate examinations, government should centralize BECE. This will make it easier to administer and eradicate the dangerous variations existing in many states. I will also suggest that the newly introduced reference number for intending SSCE candidates by WAEC should start from BECE. Let BECE candidates write the exam using this number. Those who passed should keep using it until they get to SS 3. This will help different bodies saddled with the task of conducting achievement exams like the SSCE track and upload Continuous Assessment Scores for the exam on year-by-year basis. Any student who fails BECE will automatically lose this number and would have to re-register for the exam to get another one. It will eradicate ghost candidates in Senior School Certificate Examinations, cut out students who write SSCE in SS 1 and SS 2, and those who write as external candidates. Above all, it will make BECE very relevant. With the level of technological advancement the world is witnessing today, I believe a single reference number for all these exams is very possible. All we need is proper synergy and understanding among concerned stakeholders.

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