Are Exams True Tests of Knowledge

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By Charles Uzor

Are exams true tests of knowledge? Well, I would not say they are.

Back in the day, my younger brother was mercilessly criticised for not getting excellent grades in school.

So one day I heard him saying he wasn’t interested in grades.
He insisted he would come first position if it became that important.

Then the next term and the one after, he beat all his mates very easily.
I was shocked. He said he told me everything depends on what you really value.

Anyway, let me tell you a bit about exams in Naija.
My mother was a teacher.
I used to help her mark WASSCE exam papers mostly from the South West.
The teachers were given marking schemes, and God help you if you depended too much on your own understanding of concepts taught in school.

You see, the curriculum and exams in Nigerian schools are designed to produce robots, rather than thinkers. I recall how you could get near perfect scores by reproducing notes given by the teachers.

Once, I solved a mathematics puzzle using my own method which was simpler than the teacher’s, and earned a score lower than what was awarded students who used the teacher’s technique. My father had to visit my school to raise hell before my score could be upgraded.

In many schools, those who actually write WAEC from residual memory and without help will go on to earn distinctions, but not with A1grades as have become so commonplace.

A lot of bright students would get excellent results without help, but with the unethical advantage of “seeing the papers” hours before the exams, they go on to smash the exams, since they produce nearly what appear on marking schemes.

Of course many students merit perfect A1s, but most of those that actually do are never the brightest. Only a small percentage can defend their excellent results.

After all is said and done, we have perfected the production of generations of tools fit only for GIGO.
Those that think do so at their own peril.

Who says we will not catch up with Singapore and Finland in less than a decade?

The Author’s Bio
Charles is a Medical Practitioner,  a Nigerian and very passionate speaker.

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