UK universities ’embrace’ NECO certificates as registrar reels out achievements

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By Felix Khanoba

Birmingham City University and Leeds University in the United Kingdom have reached out to the National Examinations Council (NECO) on the acceptance of its certificates for admission.

Registrar/Chief Executive Officer of NECO, Prof. Dantani Ibrahim Wushishi, made this known at the Annual Congress of the Education Correspondents Association of Nigeria (ECAN) in Abuja on Wednesday.

The NECO boss, who expressed delight over the general acceptance of NECO certificates from within and outside the shores of Nigeria, says the Council has continued to roll out new measures to further boost the quality of all its various exams.

He listed the exams as the National Common Entrance Examination (NCEE), selection examination into the Federal Government Academy, Suleja, Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), Senior School Certificate Examinations (SSCE) internal, and external, among others.

On the modernisation of its examinations, Prof. Wushishi, said the migration from pen and paper mode to Computer-Based Test (CBT) has been captured on the exam body’s strategic plan, but added that the complexity of its examinations may not allow for immediate deployment of the new system.

He said that, by virtue of being the body conducting the largest number of examinations, migrating to CBT mode would take gradual step.

“For the fact that NECO is the largest examination body by virtue of the number of examinations we conduct, migrating to CBT is a critical issue.

“For JAMB, they are not examining candidates in so many subject areas, so they find it very easy to embrace CBT in their examinations and do multiple choice in their exams.

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“As far as NECO is concerned, if you look at the nature of our exams, particularly in SSCE internal for admissions into tertiary institutions, every year we examine students close to 1.5 million which is a large number.

“For these 1.5 million candidates, we examine them in 76 different subjects and more than 150 different papers.

“So if we look at the complexity of these exams, particularly the essays where we have different papers, going to CBT is something that experts need to sit down and look at the nittygritty of the exams.

“We have to do that gradually, and there are some areas in our exams we could start with, like the common entrance examination, which is multiple choice-based, but then we must look at the nitty gritty of doing that,” Wushishi said.

On stemming examination malpractices in its upcoming SSCE internal examinations, the NECO boss said there was no fear of exam leakages as it had put in place sophisticated mechanisms to check malpractices.

“We are putting in place programmes for continuous sensitisation awareness. We are going to improve in the area of data protection to protect our candidates information.

“We are getting sophisticated identities to check malpractices as well as identify fishing sites to know if our papers leaked.

“We have no fears of any malpractices in the conduct of our exams coming up in June,” he said.

Reeling out the milestones of the council, he said that in its 25 years of existence, the council had discharged its responsibilities in line with the mandate of the organisation.

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He also noted that so far, the council has examined 34 million Nigerian youths and conducted trial testing exams for the selection of the best items in its examination.

He added that on assumption of office in 2021, the council embarked on a nationwide tour of its offices, noting that this resulted in a policy change leading to the turnaround of its activities.

Wushishi said his transformative policies and initiatives have enhanced the efficiency and integrity within the organization.

One notable achievement, according to the NECO boss, was the introduction of an e-library, enhancing access to vital educational assessment information and data, thereby bolstering job efficiency and curbing malpractice associated with public examinations in 2022.

Furthermore, he said the implementation of stanine software for determining grade boundaries in various examinations marked a groundbreaking innovation, replacing manual methods and ensuring accuracy in 2022.

According to the Niger-born erudite scholar, the revitalization of staff training workshops, including sessions on test development, psychometrics, and quality assurance, proved instrumental in enhancing staff capacity and efficiency throughout 2021 and 2022.

He also said that the restructuring of NECO’s establishment plan, approved in 2022, led to the creation of new departments and the appointment of directors, optimizing organizational structure and functionality.

Wushishi also saw to logistical improvements, such as acquiring new tires for NECO vehicles, upgrading scanning machines, and procuring computer systems and generators for offices nationwide, streamlined operations and bolstered infrastructure in 2022.

Moreover, investments in technology, including the provision of a well-equipped statistics and data analysis studio, enhanced data management and analytical capabilities within the organization as well as recognition of exemplary staff performance through awards and prizes during the 2022 Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE), among others, are also part of the achievements so far recorded by Wushishi as NECO boss.

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