The future of the Gambia is uncertain if not bleak if we should go by the results from the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) results. Unfortunately, neither the Executive nor the Legislature are outraged by the poor results we have been witnessing over the years. Not even the political parties, CSOs and ordinary citizens are adequately outraged given how everyone reacts rather nonchalantly to these poor results. More shockingly is how MOBSE itself tries to indicate that there is improvement. I am worried about this country!
For example, how can one explain the fact that out of 11,659 candidates for the 2016 WASSCE only 444 boys and girls were able to obtain five credit passes? This is only a 3.8% pass rate! How come 11,215 students were unable to obtain credit in mathematics and English language particularly for a country which has been English-speaking for decades? Ninety six percent failure rate is a national catastrophe!
In 2017, a total of 12,121 students sat the Grade 12 WASSCE exams. Out of this total, only 530 students got five credits and above including English language and maths. That is a 4.4% pass rate! In 2022, a total of 15,360 students sat the same exams, and only 605 students obtained five credits and above including English language and maths. This is only a 4% pass rate!
Today in 2023, we have a total of 16,405 students who sat the exams. According to a press release from MOBSE, “This year’s results have shown improvement in candidates with 5 credits or more (met University Entry Requirement) in 2023 with a slight increase of 316 candidates compared to the last year’s results.”
Their press release did not give the results for last year but given the records only 605 students obtained five credits or more in 2022. This means the total number of students who have university entry requirements, i.e., obtaining 5 credits or more for 2023 is only 912 (i.e., 605+316). This is a pass rate of 5.6%! This is utterly unjustified and unacceptable and yet there is no national outrage and accountability. Yet this is the same scenario for every WASSCE result every year!
Grade 12 is the end of the line for basic and secondary education that should prepare students for entry into university which is the place to mould people into thinkers, intellectuals, technocrats, and leaders of our society. Therefore, basic and secondary schools are a fundamental platform for recruiting and building the future of the Gambia. In this regard, what is expected is to see fantastic performances by the vast majority of students gaining entry requirements for university. Why is student performance so abysmally low at Grade 12?
It is said that without education, there is no future. And Malcolm X said tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. Therefore, Gambians must be concerned at the poor performance in our basic and secondary education system. MOBSE must be held accountable for the deplorable situation. I know MOBSE is good at producing excellent reports, but the fact is being too busy and producing good reports does not mean one is effective.
These results clearly show that basic education in this country is weak which is why there is further weakness at the secondary education level. If both basic and secondary education are weak it definitely means that university education will also be weak. This means we will only produce weak students which will translate into weak policy and lawmakers, weak technocrats, and weak politicians and weak leaders across our society! Therefore, we must come to the conclusion that the overall education system, i.e., teaching and learning in this country, is weak and ineffective, hence these poor results.
What we must recognize with concern even more is not only the poor results but to realize that the very purpose of education is to build character and critical thinking in people. Hence basic and secondary education are the foundations upon which these values are built in our young to grow up with them. It is these values that will build strong and patriotic citizens who will demonstrate all the values and standards of honesty, civility, humility, hard work, and justice. This means the function of education is to build people technically and morally.
If we fail to ensure a solid basic and secondary education the country therefore runs the risk of producing not only a society without intelligence and critical thinking, but also a society without character. That is a doomed society where corruption, dishonesty, violence, and hate dominate the people. This means institutions don’t perform, leaders become liabilities, while the rest of the population is naive and dormant. That is self-destruction. Currently this is the unfortunate state of affairs in the Gambia thereby making the future of this society extremely bleak.
For The Gambia Our Homeland