Straight after delivering my address to the Society of Women Accountants of Nigeria I walked into an ambush outside the hall. It turned out that among women chartered accountants there is a core group – those who are married to old boys of St. Gregory’s College, Obalende, Lagos. They were wearing T-shirts (Green and Purple !!) with “J K For President” boldly emblazoned. What they wanted was for me to agree to their terms for supporting my candidacy for election as the president of St. Gregory’s College Old Boys Association. They have been fiercely loyal regardless of the fact that it is their husbands who would actually vote. They assured me that their beloved husbands would do their bidding to the last man.
They promptly informed me that they had constituted themselves into a focus group with the principal aim of taking on the cynics who have been making loud noises over the prospects of an old boy of King’s College (which I am) emerging as the President of St. Gregory’s College Old Boys’ Association.
After all, this is Nigeria – the land of the free and home of the brave. They particularly like my campaign slogan which is a quotation:
“If you find a path with no obstacles,
it probably doesn’t lead anywhere”
- Frank A. Clark
(1860 to 1936).
What has galvanized my campaign is the bombshell announcement I made at both my nationwide broadcast and World Press Conference that within one hundred days of becoming the President of St. Gregory’s College Old Boys’ Association, I shall introduce to the letter (and the spirit) the radical views espoused by Emeritus Professor Olugbemiro Jegede when he was interviewed by Christian T. Alabi.
In bold headlines, “Daily Trust” newspaper delivered the message on its front page on September 30, 2021.
“WHY NIGERIA [ESPECIALLY ST. GREGORY’S COLLEGE] MUST ABOLISH EXAMINATIONS IN ITS EDUCATION SYSTEM”
“Why the call for the abolishing of examination in schools and how can that be actualized in the Nigerian education system?
Examinations in schools have never been true tests of the learner’s full capabilities. Think of a student taking examinations at the worst emotional time of his life, probably lost his mobile phone with all information, or lost one of his parents, or has been battling with malaria all week before examinations. How do you expect such a student to do well or perform to the optimum of his intellectual ability? At best, examinations and tests are good for ranking learners. But no system should exist just to rank students because learning should never be a competition.
In education, the progress of a whole class is dependent on the slowest learner. If you, therefore, rely on examination as a yardstick to measure real learning, we shall never make the comprehensive progress needed in our educational system. That is why Singapore has done away with examination and especially ranking of performance in the primary and secondary school levels and considered doing the same at the tertiary education level.
What that country and other progressive countries, especially in Asia, are doing now is using qualitative descriptors such as a learner’s discussion participation, homework, group work, and other less competitive means to assess learning by individuals. At the secondary school level, even though learners may still be graded, including decimal points in any marking scheme is a waste of time. What is being done is to use the portfolio system which will contain a learner’s performance in group projects and the learner’s proficiency in demonstrating skills acquired in any learning situation.
The current century no more looks for marks grading or ranking of students to decide if learning has taken place. That is why our first-class graduates cannot perform as well as third-class graduates on the field where the use of our hands integrated with brainpower is required. It is what skills you can demonstrate with the mathematics or science or geography you have learned that employers now look for. In any case, the new development in the recognition of learning achievement is to use learning badges.
A learning badge (digital or physical) is a validated display of accomplishment, skill, quality, or interest that can be earned in any learning environment. Badges can represent traditional academic achievement or the acquisition of skills such as collaboration, teamwork, leadership, and other 21st century skills.
What kind of change are we expecting when exams are abolished?
Examinations encourage unhealthy competition in our learning environment and this is an inherent threat to the total development of a child. Encourage a learner to use all his or her senses, hands, and brain in an integrated fashion to demonstrate innovation and creativity.
That is why in interviews, it is no more adequate to show a certificate from a business center that you are computer literate; they put the computer before you and ask you to word process something or do some excel spreadsheet or whatever to demonstrate your proficiency and skills in the use of the computer.
We need to abolish examinations in schools and devise other means to replace entrance and final year examinations. We must borrow a lesson from the latest developments around the world in an industry where Google, Apple, and 12 other companies no longer require employees to have a university degree to be hired.
In fact, they say they will now hire accountants, historians, and non-scientific qualifications and train them hands-on in computer science and information technology. Many of the world’s most popular global companies that young ones now rush out of Nigeria to work for, don’t require a university degree, and certain jobs are more likely to be filled with non-college graduates than others, as the World Economic Forum tells us with regard to the world’s most sought-after skills for the 21st century.
As reported in many pieces of literature around the world, top business executives have begun questioning whether degrees or certificates from institutions of higher learning really prepare workers for careers, while some are starting to hire more and more non-tertiary graduates.
We must rethink everything about our examination systems and what they portent for our education system in Nigeria. How come most of our youth are excelling exceptionally well outside of Nigeria than within? It is because the environment is quite conducive and there is no stress about examinations but a lot of emphasis on what you can do with your acquired skills.
In general, our examination system at all levels should have been goal-based, process-based, and outcomes-based but a critical analysis of the examinations we give to learners in Nigeria shows it is not.
If we do not revise our examination systems and indeed our education system by 2030, Nigeria will be left at the train station or most probably at the motor parks.
Of course, any parent would be pleased that his son or daughter has come first or second in class or level, and in a system where our prize-giving ceremonies are traditionally to recognize student’s achievement, based on what students crammed and regurgitated for examinations. And yet, they say education is what is left in your head when all you crammed for examinations have disappeared!
If exams are abolished, by what parameters would learners be assessed in Nigeria?
For now, we must throw our archaic examination system out through the window and welcome with a broad and huge bear hug the need to use proficiency, performance badges simulations, open question, one on one sessions, online forums and discussion groups, group projects and peer-based feedbacks, and scenario-based assessment and case studies to instill self-discipline in our children to enable them to master all the skills they need to succeed in life.”
The focus group (consisting of wives of old boys of St. Gregory’s College) has encouraged me to venture into tackling crucial national issues particularly drugs.
“Daily Trust” newspaper, September 25, 2021
“DRUG ABUSE: PSYCHIATRIC PATIENTS FLOCK HOSPITALS
IN CALABAR, AWKA”
“The principal psychologist at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Calabar, Dr. Eyo Asuquo, has disclosed that there is an increasing number of psychiatric patients arriving at their facility in recent times.
In an interview, he attributed the reason to increasing abuse of hard drugs, such as Tramadol, Nicotine, Cannabis, Indian hemp, as well as high intake of alcohol by victims.
Findings revealed that as of press time, 93 drug-related patients were accommodated at the seven wards of the hospital.
Asuquo said, “As a result of the increase in the number of patients, an emergency ward was created to receive them. We have seven wards that accommodate different levels of psychiatric disorders. We have a multi-disciplinary approach to their treatment.”
He said they took time to attend to individual cases and discharge those whose conditions got better than when they were admitted.
He also said the rate of recovery differed from one patient to another, depending on the degree of disorder.
He expressed gratitude to the federal government for restoring and re-equipping the facility better than when hoodlums destroyed it during the #ENDSARS protest last October.
A member of staff of the hospital, who did not want his name mentioned, said patients were brought in from different parts of the state and other places.
“At present, the facility is functioning as it should. Patients are brought in from parts of the state and outside. Our experts attend to them every working day, except Wednesday,” he disclosed.
Another member of staff said they only received 10 percent instead of the 40 percent hazard allowance promised them by the government.
In Anambra State, the Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Nawfia, Awka South, has many patients.
Our correspondent who visited the hospital observed that as early as 8.30 am, doctors were already in their consulting offices attending to patients.
Speaking with our correspondent, a patient, who identified himself as Mike, thanked the hospital management for the care and treatment he received.
He said the journey to the facility was a long one that he did not want to share with anybody.
One of his relatives, Uche Daniel said, “We thank God for healing him. We hope he would not repeat the cause of the problem.”
One of the doctors who spoke on condition of anonymity said the hospital received an average of five patients every week.
He said most of the patients were induced by hard drugs or the popular Indian hemp, adding that the state government should pay special attention to the hospital.
On the challenges of the hospital, he said it lacked adequate funding and manpower like any other public institution in the country.”
The focus group also wants me to tackle gas flaring.
Frontpage headline “The Guardian” newspaper of September 30, 2021.
“NIGERIA, OTHERS LOSING $82 BILLION FROM GAS FLARING YEARLY”
“By flaring, rather than utilizing gas for power generation or other domestic needs, Nigeria and other nations involved in such act, could lose up to $82bn a year due to global gas flaring, says GlobalData report.
The report identified the biggest gas flares, accounting for over 87 percent of all flared gas in 2020, to include Nigeria, Algeria, Angola, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, the US, and Venezuela.
Though the Federal Government had pledged to end the burning of gas as a by-product of oil production by 2030, under its latest climate plan submitted to the United Nations, independent sources state that Nigeria flared an average of 11.1m3/bbl of gas last year.
With 7.83bcm in 2019, up from 7.44bcm in 2018, the World Bank ranked Nigeria as having the seventh-largest volume under the Global Gas Flaring Tracker Report (GCFR), despite having a low level of energy access.
Nigeria reduced flaring by 70 percent between 2000 and 2020, according to the International Energy Agency, as a result of tougher penalties and incentives to capture and sell the gas.
However, the Nigeria Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme (NGFCP) has loopholes, and penalties are low and weakly enforced. International oil majors report slow progress in eliminating wasteful flaring, analysts have claimed.
GlobalData notes that, even though technological solutions exist to avoid gas flaring, many countries persist with the activity – including developed countries such as the United States and Russia. Besides lost revenue, this is also an environmental issue, as gas flaring is one of the major contributors to CO2 emissions.
According to GlobalData’s report, ‘Gas Flaring-Thematic Research’ countries could make up to $82bn if they utilize this gas instead of flaring it.
Senior Oil and Gas Analyst at GlobalData, Anna Belova, said: “It would do many countries, especially in Europe and Asia where natural gas prices are setting all-time records, a lot of good if oil and gas operators found the strategy to sell this gas rather than lose it – not only for the money but for meeting their CO2 targets too.”
Belova added: “The top 12 gas-flaring countries, flared almost 13 billion cubic feet of gas per day (bcfd). To put that into context, that amount of gas could easily keep the whole of Japan well supplied for a year. All of that power has simply gone to waste.”
Many countries flare gas because of lack of access to these markets, combined with the small volumes of gas produced at individual oil sites. The situation is further complicated by low domestic gas prices in most of the top flaring countries.
The value of flared gas, when priced at domestic prices in Russia or the US for example, is often less than a quarter of what the gas could command on Europe or Asia markets.
Belova said: “Reducing global gas flaring will require a multi-prong approach due to unique regional drivers that prioritize flaring over monetization of gas. Small-scale modular technologies, aimed at converting gas into liquids or chemicals, represent a logical choice for remote and distributed flaring sites.”
At a meeting hosted by KPMG in Durban, South Africa the late charismatic Nelson Mandela who was no longer the President of South Africa beamed his gaze on the old boys of King’s College and St. Gregory’s College and proceeded to deliver the following message:
“If this meeting has been useful, I am glad. But it will be more useful to me if you go back to Nigeria and work to give young Nigerians good education. Teach them to value hard work and sacrifice, and discourage them from crimes that are destroying your image as a good people. Then you have to spend a lot of your resources on education.
Educate the children of the poor, so they can get out of poverty. Poverty does not breed confidence. Only confident people can bring changes. The black people of the world need Nigeria to be great as a source of pride and confidence. Nigerians love freedom and hate oppression. Why do you do it (keep shafting yourselves)?”
By way of digression, the women accountants who are married to old boys of St. Gregory’s College deserve a medal for their sense of humor. They have adopted the “The Nation” newspaper of October 2, 2021, as a collector’s item.
On its front page, it carried the following headline:
“WHY I DUMPED MY ACCOUNTANT HUSBAND, GOT PREGNANT FOR JOBLESS GRADUATE”
(Says he’s crap in bed; I had no choice but to look outside).
In the inside pages, the sizzling story is given plenty of space to accommodate the anguish of the dejected husband, the triumph of the elated lover, and the fury of the unrepentant wife.
Having regained its poise, the focus group of ladies proceeded to remind me:
“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
(1803 to 1882)
What followed was a trenchant complaint via WhatsApp by one of their members who had quit accountancy to venture into farming. Along with the distress call was the front-page headline of the “Daily Trust” newspaper of September 25, 2021.
“BANDITS IMPOSE TAX ON KATSINA FARMERS”
- Gunmen demand labour and fertiliser for own farms
- Food crisis may worsen as resident desert farms.
- The worsening security situation in northwestern Nigeria has since assumed alarming proportions. Bandits are still on a killing spree, maiming or abducting people in broad daylight, forcing many to flee the rural areas and rustling their animals. Farmers in some of the areas are also compelled to pay taxes to access their farms. Some say by this, the bandits seem to be running a parallel government in some areas. An investigation by Daily Trust in Danmusa, Batsari, Dandume and Dutsin-Ma local government areas in Katsina State revealed that people in villages close to forests are either forced to pay taxes to the bandits not to be harmed and to access their farms or work on the bandits’ farms and serve as their informants.
- Despite taxing us, we’re not spared from their atrocities; they’d always come to your farm and seize your phone, money or motorbike, even shoes – anything valuable. For nearly three weeks, I couldn’t go to my farm out of fear of the unknown.”
In a country where many are literarily voting with their feet, “The Guardian” newspaper delivered a bombshell with its front-page report on September 25, 2021.
Bashorun J.K. Randle is a former
President of the Institute of the Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN)
and former Chairman of KPMG Nigeria and Africa Region.
He is currently the Chairman, JK Randle Professional Services