The Registrar/Chief Executive Officer of the National Examinations Council (NECO), Professor Promise Okpala, disclosed to grapevine that the council will not introduce computer-based tests in its examinations at the present.

He added that the council was tailoring its examination procedures to cater for a comprehensive growth in the lives of the Nigerian children.

“You must perfect it before you bring it to the consumers, because there are so much knowledge that is not at the consumption level. It is like trying to prepare a drug; you don’t just rush it to test it with human beings. So, the major concern we have is what do we do to reduce the human beings who are marking essays because it would be more economical, it would be faster and that is the essence of this laboratory.”

He stated this in an interactive session with the newsmen at the official commissioning of 15 deskstop computers at the Quality Assurance Department of the council on Thursday, in Minna, Niger State capital .

The computers were donated by Dragnet IT Solutions.

“In fact, this is a staff laboratory, where those things we are imagining we will come and try it out here. And before it comes out there, they would be sure of what you are giving them because the children are our consumers. And because it comes out there, they should be sure of what you are giving them. And that is the essence.”

He said no one should give something to the consumers when such products had not been tested and perfected, stressing that the issue of using machines to mark essays was a more complex thing, as it was still at the experimental stage.

“Our exams cut across four major barriers, namely: the multiple choice, the long essays, the laboratory processes and the orals. So, most of our papers appeared in paper one, paper two and paper three. So, these restructured components which people called multiple choice could be said to only one quarter of our exams and that is what made our exams peculiar, while our exams also last for about 65 days. So, it is not a one-day term,” he stated.

He further argued that the technology being used in marking essays was not particularly perfect yet, adding that it was still at the level of experimentation because it was more difficult to do, saying, “you can appreciate when someone tells you to write an essay or something like education of girls and women or write an essay whether Nigeria should go nuclear.”

He added that in such an essay, one would realize that the child was in this aspect being asked to express himself the way he felt , stressing that for examiners to begin to subject it to known answer was more difficult.

He however disclosed that there were about 70 Scanners inside the Laboratories at the Computer section of the headquarters of the examinations Council , emphasizing that the society should appreciate the type of examinations NECO was conducting.

“The only advantage in conducting Computer Based Test examination for candidates is releasing the results early release of the results. We have about 80,000 graduate Teachers marking our essays and those Teachers must read it because they do not have any options as some of them are fully experienced Teachers.

And we have to wait for these 80,000 Teachers to come and spend 30 days with us , reading through the scripts and marking it after the results would begin to emerge” said Okpala.

He thereby advocated the need for the Nigerian Child to be taught ICT right from Primary School, unlike what it obtains presently whereby Nigerian children were being taught about Computer education from class one in the Junior Secondary School till such children reached the final year in secondary school.

“By the time you have a child for Six years, he spent Six years writing with paper and pencil. The teaching and learning influences the other one . Otherwise , somebody may say, look what exactly are you doing . Let us in using maximum ICT to prepare the children from Primary School up to Secondary and Tertiary Institutions , but not the other way round.

He said the ways the Teachers teach the pupils and the ways they relate with their students mattered, saying “how you teach and how you assess must relate”.

In fact what we are advocating is this, as we are clamouring to assess them, we should be clamoring more to teach them using this process and that is very more important otherwise we are leaving the substance through.

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