How do we surge on if we are oblivious of what lies ahead? The essence in the saying, “When a blind man leads the blind, they fall into a ditch”, is not in the disabilities of any of them, rather, it is in their ignorance of what lies 5 inches ahead of them.
I have bothered my thoughts with the question of whether or not our young brothers and sisters at the secondary school level have sufficient knowledge about the tertiary levels of education for which they write their final exams and hope to transit to. My thought may not be one readily expected on a day for serious business, however, come, let us reason together.
If students at the secondary school level do not know the various programs that the tertiary institutions they would be entering present, the prospects for these programs, their qualifications and requirements, then what would guide or drive their motivation to commit to their studies?
I have fondly asked secondary school graduates about the programs they would like to study at the tertiary. To my dismay, a significant number of them, oftentimes, opened their hands, shrugged their shoulders and responded, “I don’t know oo”. I would then follow up, “So, what motivated you to commit to your studies?” At this point, usually, I would receive a smile, with which would be accompanied a little shyly gestures and then they would avoid my question, all together.
Rather rarely, on a good day, you would likely hear, “I want to study medicine”, if he/she happens to read General Science. On the other hand, those reading General Arts would also express their aspiration to study law. If one is not adapted to our educational culture, he/she could wrongfully conclude that these are the only programs offered by our universities, no exclusion to Teacher Training, Nursing Training Colleges and even polytechnics where these are not available programmes.
Let me hasten to add that the writer of this article has himself had a classical experience of this situation.
I can recall, two years to writing my final exams (WASSCE), I made a commitment to my studies, along with my four cousins who were also finalists. Originally, my first motivation was that I didn’t want to be the one who failed. Having passed successfully, eventually, based on some rather weird and erroneous perceptions, I was lured to study psychology at the university. Fortunately for me, it worked. It wasn’t love at first sight, but gradually, I fell in love with psychology; we soon married and our matrimony has been one of happily ever after; till death do us part.
Not to be a critic without constructive remedies, I posed a question to myself, “What can we do?” The first point to address is: This situation exposes a deficit, a loop hole in our educational structure. There is no denying this.
As a matter of fact, apart from few tertiary institutions, almost none of the schools at the lower levels of the academic ladder have an office of a counsellor, a school psychologist or educational psychologist. In better cases, only a few missionary schools would have a priest, who doubles as a tutor in a subject in the school performing this role. But, for effective functioning and results, I recommend that a professional counsellor, school psychologist or educational psychologist be made present at the various second cycle institutions.
The reason being that it is only the professional who has been equipped with the skills and techniques to provide guidance in the various programmes for students, to monitor and guide students’ academic progress, and help them deal with all situational events (emotional distress, stress, role confusion etc.) that may impede their academic progress.
I have a strong belief that this development would not only provide our nation with intelligent and reliable human resources in all fields to boost our country’s development, but in addition, provide a solution to the chronic examination malpractices.
I therefore, wish all candidates of the West Africa Secondary School Certificate Examination the best. My wish for them is that they excel exceedingly.