What was meant to be a swansong for our primary school national examinations is fast turning into a farce of epic proportions to the point of its fairness and credibility getting questioned.
Usually, these seasons that follow release of national examination results every year are often punctuated with celebrations by the top performers and their relatives and teachers. These are the times the nation is treated to heart-warming stories of newly minted heroes who braved difficult learning environments to emerge tops. There are also the typically lofty ambitions, so innocently mouthed by the exceptional ones in their rare moments of fame. This year though, a dark cloud of protests hangs ominously over the results. Even those who got decent grades and their results have no known errors are in some sort of suspended animation.
From the murmurs, it appears as if diligence was sacrificed at the altar of fast release of the examinations. That some individuals figured out that it was better to unveil the results in the shortest times possible than to keenly pay attention to the process to preserve the sanctity of results.
Actually, this is a huge, missed opportunity for the nation. Considering that the shift from the current national examinations system is imminent, it would have been a good time to reflect on the long journey that we have come with them. The good old days when such announcements of results was an annual national moment, right after Christmas. There was no live ceremony, just a news flash on the radio that got everyone excited. Candidates who had sat the examination, especially those who expected favourable prospects, would begin ambling towards their former schools to meet their outcomes.
In the meantime, headteachers would be jumping onto buses to the district headquarters to pick the list of their candidates’ results, make a copy and pin it on the noticeboard. Then there would be a melee, everyone trying to check the rankings. For several days after, this would be the staple of village gossip – whose child had delivered a stellar result and whose was leading from the bottom. Then there was the opportunity to get famous by landing a spot on the top 100 ranking that was published in the newspapers.
Over time, things have changed. Results come out only a few days from the time examinations are sat. Getting results is almost instant via text message and thankfully, it a lot more discreet compared to the times it was splashed on the noticeboard, unless one chooses to screenshot and broadcast to the world.
From all this, when we thought that technology would make things better and more efficient, we seem to be failing in the most basic bits. Or is it that such errors have only been magnified by technology that has made it easy for disappointments to spiral and to snowball into a mega-crisis?
The unfortunate point is that by not tightening quality control for the learners’ single most important event is the same as toying with their futures. Some say that handling results is something we have perennially struggled with, if disputed election outcomes are anything to go by, but for examinations, there is a lot more riding on them. It is these examinations that determine the school that one goes to and also influence how their lives eventually pan out.