SHS Students Flop English Paper …. Social Media To Blame

Despite the enormous advantages social media presents, its messaging terminologies such as ‘unlike’, ‘unfollow’, ‘sup’, ‘LOL’, ‘BRB’, ‘ASAP’ and the likes have been identified as a major contributor to the massive failures in English Language examinations, an education expert says.

The jargons, which are often in shorthand writing: ‘sup’ (what is happening), LOL (laugh out loud), BRB (be right back), ASAP (as soon as possible), IKR (I know right), WTG (we thank God), OMW (on my way), OHK (Okay), IMU (I miss you) and OMG (Oh my God), adversely affects the candidates.

Out of the 316,999 candidates who sat for the 2018 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), 147,232, representing 46.79 per cent, obtained A1-C6 in the English Language, while 99,402 (31.60 per cent) obtained D7-E8.

The Chief Examiner’s report has attributed the development to the poor command of the English Language because of the misuse of social media terminologies.

A retired head of the Test Development Division –West Africa Examination Council (WAEC), Anthony Kofitse, who spoke to The Chronicle, described the mass failure as unfortunate.

He bemoaned the continuous falling standards of education in the country, and the massive drop in the performance in English Language from 54.06 per cent in 2017 to 46.79 per cent in 2018.

Mr. Kofitse concurred with the Chief Examiner’s report that excessive use of social media jargons was one of the factors that influenced students’ failures in the English Language, explaining that the sender and the recipient of social media messages interchangeably develop terminologies that become part of their daily conversations, and same reflects in their essays.

He also laid squarely, part of the problem on teachers for not doing their best to effectively guide their students to develop efficient skills in the English Language at their early stages.

“Many candidates cannot generate ideas on their own, as well as properly express themselves when writing essays. The ability to properly express oneself in essay writing only attracts about 20 out of the total 50 marks,” he lamented.

To him, the lower primary level is the best place where teachers should place more emphasis on children’s language development, saying, “looking at our school system, if you don’t master the English Language at the junior level, forget it.”

He said spelling mistakes, poor sentence construction, and poor use of punctuation marks are some of the challenges faced by students.

Mr. Kofitse clearly stated that the teachers were not helping, because most students don’t know simple and complex sentences, saying, “I went to a school to conduct a test on punctuation marks, and the outcome was disastrous. Somebody wrote 12 lines without a full stop or any punctuation mark.”

He charged teachers to stress on teaching grammar, encouraging students to read, and also give students sufficient exercises to prepare them adequately.

According to him, most of the children could hardly generate essay ideas on their own and often find themselves wanting, during examinations.

Below is the 2018 provisional results released by WAEC.

English Language: 147,232 signifying 46. 79 per cent obtained A1-C6; 99,402 [31.60 per cent] obtained D7-E8 while 68,002 representing 21.61 per cent had F9;

Mathematics [core]: 120,519 [38.33 per cent] obtained A1-C6; 94,607 [30.09 per cent] obtained D7-E8 while 99,275 [31.58 per cent] had F9.

Integrated Science: 158,691 [50.52 per cent] obtained A1-C6; 109,069 [34.72 per cent] obtained D7-E8 whilst 46,367 14.76 per cent had F9;

Social Studies: 230,141 [73.27 per cent] obtained Al-C6; 46,464 [14.79 per cent] obtained D7-E8 whilst 37,494 [11.94 per cent] had F9.