Nigerian parents will need to do a rethink quickly if it is worthwhile spending millions of naira to send their children to private secondary schools, as startling statistics have shown that students attending public schools are outperforming them in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination.
Figures published by the National Bureau of Statistics this week capturing results by students in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory between 2016 and 2018 generally showed a wide gap in the performance of public school students against their pampered mates in private schools.
Only Jigawa bucked the trend in 2018 when 15 percent of private school students enrolled that year scored five credits and above, as against the 9.42 percent scored by public school students.
But the percentage variance is insignificant as the state registered only 20 students from private schools that year for the examination, as against 22,424 students who enrolled from public schools. Out of the 20 in private schools, three succeeded in getting five credits, including English and Maths. In the public schools, the success level was much higher, 2113 students out of 22,424 got five credits, and more.
In 2016, the public school students, despite their higher number, performed far better than the tiny amount of candidates from private schools. Out of the 207 candidates from private schools, only 21 got five credits and above, while 4128 candidates from public schools succeeded. There were no records for private students in 2017.
In other states and the Federal Capital Territory, the statistics clearly showed that parents need an urgent evaluation of their preference for private schools over public schools. The WASSCE results negated the choice.
In the FCT, out of the 2917 students enrolled for the 2016 WASSCE, 6.1 percent got five credits and above. In contrast, out of 20,141 public school students, 49.4% got five credits plus. In 2017, just 3.8% of WASSCE candidates from private schools understood five credits and above, while 61.83 percent of the 21,514 registered by public schools passed. Last year, out of 2424 candidates enrolled by private schools, just 6.11 percent got five credits and above, while 52.11 percent of the 23,622 from public schools hit the same level of success.
Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous state, brings out starkly the performance disparity between students in public and private schools.
In 2016, 78,905 students from private schools registered for WASSCE, while 145,186 registered from public schools. But in the results for the year, 44.3 percent of the private students got five credits and above. However, 63 percent of students from public schools hit the same success level. In 2017, the performance of private school students reached a big slump, dropping to 26.4 percent of the 58,883 registered, while 65.5 percent of the 154,430 public school students scored five credits and above. Enrolment of candidates for WASSCE shrank further in 2018, with 48,651 sitting for the exam. Although 44.43 percent got the five credits plus, the performance fell short compared with public school students. Of the 162,066 students who sat for the examination, 60.7 percent got five credits and above.
Niger state also showed a similar trend. The percentages of the average 1200 students registered for the three years were 23.3 percent in 2016, 10.8 in 2017, and 12.36 in 2018. In contrast, 33.9 percent of more than 50,000 students of public schools got five credits plus in 2016, 37.54 in 2017, and 25.13 in 2018.
Nasarawa, Ondo, Osun public school students also performed better than students of private schools. Osun, where students in government schools were given a tablet of knowledge, presents an exciting contrast between public and private schools.
In 2016, out of 36,685 students presented for WASSCE by government, 45.5 % got five credits and above. Only 18.5 % of the 2,753 students registered by private schools hit the same level of attainment. In 2017, performance in private schools dropped to 13.9% out of 2,426 candidates who wrote WASSCE. Public school candidates still maintained a pass ratio of 43.5%. This, however, fell to 4.85% in 2018, while private schools recorded 13.46 percent.
In Ogun state, the success rates of private and public school students were close for the three years. In 2016, Ogun registered 26,756 candidates from private schools and 84,886 in public schools. While 48.4 % of private school candidates passed with five credits plus that year, 52.2 % of students from public schools made the cut-off point. A similar picture emerged in the following years, with 40% success by private schools in 2017 to 54.14% in public and 40.29 for private in 2018 to 51.69 public.
Of all the states, Rivers and Abia returned the highest levels of success for students of public schools. Rivers returned 75% in 2016, 82.3 % in 2017 and 77.82% in 2018. Private schools got 43.6% in 2016, 18.2% in 2018, and 29.55% in 2018, out of an average of 8,000 students for each of the three years.
Abia also reported 71.1% in 2016, 76.53% in 2017 and 82.2% in 2018. The private schools with a low population of about 600 candidates got 10.3% in 2016, 32% in 2017, and 51.42% in 2018.
Anambra also returned over 71% success in five credits plus for public school students in 2016 and 2017, while private candidates wallowed in miserable scores. But last year, the performance of public school candidates dipped to 51.4 percent.
In 2018, 1.57million candidates from public schools sat for WASSCE conducted by the West African Examinations Council.
In 2017, 1.56m candidates did the exam. Eight hundred twenty-two thousand nine hundred forty-one (822,941) of the candidates were male, while the remaining 748,595 were female. Eight hundred forty-nine thousand sixty-nine of the candidates had five credits and above, including English Language, 1.06m had five (5) credits and above including Mathematics, while 756,726 of the candidates had five (5) credits and above including Mathematics & English Language.
The percentage of candidates with five credits and above, including Mathematics & English Language, is put at 48.15%.
Similarly, a total of 109,798 candidates sat for WAEC in private schools in 2018 as against 133,258 candidates in 2017. Fifty-four thousand four hundred seventeen of the candidates were male, while the remaining 55,561 were female. Forty-seven thousand one hundred twenty-two of the candidates had five credits, and above, including the English Language, 47,434 had five credits and above including Mathematics, while 37,184 of the candidates had five credits and above including Mathematics & English Language. The percentage of candidates with five credits and above, including Mathematics & English Language, is put at 33.81%.
Lagos state has the highest number of candidates in public schools, while the country also has the highest number of candidates in private schools who sat for the examination.