ANALYSIS: WAEC rating highlights dwindling fortunes of education in South-west Nigeria

Students writing an exam used to illustrate this story
Students writing an exam used to illustrate this story

Historically, western education entered the country through the South-west of Nigeria. The colonial authorities initially concentrated their activities in the Lagos area before moving down south along the coastal cities.

They were not at the time involved in the operation and funding of education. Scholars have suggested that formal western education began in Nigeria in 1842 at the primary level through the efforts of Christian missions. Secondary education was subsequently introduced. The first secondary school was CMS Grammar School, established in 1859 in Lagos.

It has been well documented that the colonial government only began its involvement in education after it promulgated its first Education Ordinance in 1882 when it began the funding of public schools and gave assistance to private ones. The difficulty in its implementation led to the enactment of the second Ordinance in 1887. This ordinance was said to have covered only schools in Lagos at the time.

Also, 73 years after the establishment of the first secondary school in Lagos, the first higher institution in Nigeria, Yaba Higher College, was established in 1932. The University College, Ibadan followed shortly in 1934.

Undoubtedly, the region had a head start in educational development compared to other regions of the country. This was further buoyed by the Universal Primary Education Policy of the then Premier of Western Region, Obafemi Awolowo, which offered free education for children in primary schools starting from 1955. Besides providing children of poor background access to quality education, it underscored the intrinsic value of education, which subsequently stimulated and facilitated the mass education of the population.

From Lagos to Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and down to Ekiti, the preponderance of professors and well-read academicians benchmarks the solid foundation laid for the education in the region. It is often said (though debatable) that in every home in Ekiti, there is a professor.

However, in a recent analysis, it is apparent that other regions are not only catching up, but might have overtaken the South-west in education.

If there is any doubt in the minds of anyone, the performances of the region in the Senior School Certificate Examinations, SSCE in the last five years showed that South-west states only trail other regions in their well-publicised ratings. In all these years, none of the states, besides Lagos, has made it to the list of top 10 states on the West African Examinations Council, WAEC performance table.

Available statistics of the 2017 SSCE results enumerating states’ performance, showed the South-east states posting brilliant performances. Besides topping the chart, four of the five states made the top 10 list of states.

The dominance of the South-east and South-south states in the WAEC rating in the last five years, raise concerns about the much-touted claims of the South-west as the bastion of education in Nigeria.

However, the South-west states had Lagos as a representative among the top 10 states. It shows Abia, Rivers, and Edo coming tops, with Imo, Bayelsa, Anambra, Lagos, Taraba, Enugu and Delta following in that order.

Besides Lagos that manages to retain its presence in the top 10, the other South-west states remain comfortable either at the rear or at the middle.

In 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 WAEC results, only Lagos featured in the top 10 list of states which continued to be dominated by states from the South-east and South-south.

For instance, in 2015, all the South-east states made it to the top 10 on the chart. While Lagos still retained its place on the list, Ekiti managed to clinch the 11th position on the chart. Ondo came 14th, Ogun, 20th position, Oyo, 27th, while Osun came 30th. The situation was not so different in 2014 chart which saw Ekiti occupying the 12th position. Ondo followed closely on the 13th position, while Ogun moved up to 18, Osun, 22 and Oyo, 24.

The Ekiti State government last year celebrated the improvement of the state on the WAEC performance chart when it moved from the 28th position in 2013 to 11th position in 2016. For the state, its placement on the chart had perhaps bestowed credence on the investment of the governor in education.

Idowu Adelusi, the Chief Press Secretary to the state governor, Ayo Fayose, had described the feat as “an indication that efforts of the present administration to reposition education in the state were already yielding results.”

He said the governor was particularly happy that no fewer than 37 per cent of the state candidates that sat for WAEC in 2016 had a minimum of five credits including in English and Mathematics while a similar feat was recorded in 2015.

“The mere fact that the state jumped from 35th position to the 11th, barely two years of the coming into office of this administration, is remarkable,” Mr. Adelusi said.

Ekiti State also retained its 11th position in 2017.

However, some have rejected the use of the WAEC chart as an indicator of the true state of education in any state. A top official of the Ogun State government, who did not want his name on print, while defending the situation with education in Ogun, said the conclusion that the south-west states, particularly Ogun, performed dismally compared to other states “was an error.”

According to him, the analyses did not consider the number of candidates for each state before arriving at the conclusion.

He said the rating was based on percentage pass in five subjects at credit level and above. Looking at the performance chart of the 2014 result, Ogun which registered 70,474 candidates was placed 18th. 

It was his reasoning that Ogun in that light should not be compared with states like Bayelsa, ‘which featured 19,930 candidates and placed fourth.’

But such an argument is whittled when the 2014 table is further examined. Even states which registered fewer candidates had higher number of candidates which had five credit passes and above including in Mathematic and English.

For instance, Imo, which placed 8th on the table, registered a total of 46,359 candidates, and had a total of 18,830 candidates with five credits and above including in Mathematics and English. Ogun with 70,474 candidates had a total of 15,974 candidates making the five credit passes and above mark.

It is noteworthy that Ogun State had attracted flaks from many critics in respect of its performance of candidates in the 2016 SSCE.

However, the Special Assistant on Media to the Ogun State Governor, Opeyemi Soyombo, believes such criticisms were unfair and “did not reflect the true state of education and the commitment of Ibikunle Amosun towards restoring the virtue of education in the state.”

He argued that the administration in Ogun was following the steps of Obafemi Awolowo by earmarking over 20 per cent of the state’s budget to education.

He said the government is also operating the free education policy at the primary and secondary levels which had in turn raised the level of enrolment in schools.

“In the 2010/ 2011 session, enrolment figure for JSS was 158,972. Today, through the free education policy of the Amosun government, enrolment figure has shot up to 226,836,” Mr. Soyombo said.

“The figure has increased from 133,997 in 2010/2011 to 172,444 at the SSS level. Due to improvement in our technical education, some children now move from JSS to such schools while the majority proceed to SSS, which is a big plus for our drive in vocational/technical education. Expectedly, performance of our children in WASSCE did improve significantly.”

It was also the view of the Commissioner for Education in Osun State, Kola Young, that the WAEC results do not necessarily represent the true state of education in the states.

He argued that considering the prevalent rate of examination malpractices across the country, it was necessary to analyse the capacity of school leavers to utilise their secondary school certificates.

Mr. Young said that analysts should look at the number of students matriculating in Nigerians universities in reaching conclusions “whether the South-west is lagging behind or not.”

“If I find out that in our universities that the south-west states are lagging behind in terms of the number of students gaining admissions, then I will be alarmed,” he said.

“But if the South-west is still leading, then I will have doubts about the capacity of the other states to check exam malpractices.”

He, however, added that he would need to have all the data to be able to reach a final conclusion on it.

Seinde Arogbofa, an educationist and author told PREMIUM TIMES that the dwindling fortunes of education in the region is a function of the lack of prioritisation of the sector by the state governments.

“UNICEF recommended that 26 per cent of the budget be allocated to education. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in his pursuit of ensuring quality education for the people, earmarked over 30 per cent of his budget to education. That was the reason why he succeeded so much,” he said.

“Today, the state governments hardly give up to 10 per cent to education in their states; they place little value on education.”

He also blamed the poor reading culture for the dismal performance of students in the examinations, saying, “How can students pass when they don’t read?”

Mr. Arogbofa also criticised parents for not doing enough to raise their children well, and condemned their support for exam malpractices. He also had some kind words for state governments.

“To say that the South-west governments are not doing anything at all to improve education will amount to an overkill and over generalisation. Some states such as Ondo, Osun and Ogun had taken novel steps to re-establish the foundations of education in their respective domains. However, the fruits of these recent ventures would only be noticeable in the far future.”

Much of what is seen as the legacies of a visionary leadership bequeathed by Mr. Awolowo and which is still being harnessed today as the capacities of the South-west region was sown decades ago.

For South-west states, they may have to learn from Mr. Awolowo’s saying that, “As far as possible, expenditure on services which tend to the welfare and health and education of the people should be increased at the expense of any expenditure that does not answer to the same test.”

The sage’s pivotal economic and education polices transformed the entire South-west of Nigeria, making it a leading light not only in education, but in other areas of development. Governors in the region will need to re-enact past glories in bringing education to a place of priority, not only in access, but in quality.


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  • Apostel

    but for that you have the biggest idiots.

  • O’Tega (From Texas)

    With Buhari it is SORROWS, TEARS & BLOOD everyday and everywhere. That is his regular Trade Mark (Fela Kuti).

    There has been flood here in Texas. Less than 40,000 displaced. Twice Donald Trump would visit, and possibly more. In Nigeria, Buhari goes to Daura (Katstina State) to relax and CELEBRATE Salah festivities barely 48 hours after over 100,000 are displaced by flood in Benue State. central Nigeria.

    One thing is clear. One of the two Presidents is undeniably insane beyond redemption. Do you agree or disagree? Let me know your opinion.

    • Mufu Ola

      I’m sure u’re in a refugee camp.Why your reasoning is stunted.

      • Lanre

        Typical of Nigerians. Respond to facts raised by otega.It is all about responsibility. Who are Nigerian leaders responsible to?

    • serubawon70

      Lets get facts right. 39 lives were lost to huricanne harvey and more than a million people displaced according to ABC News

  • Mufu Ola

    How many “special” centres produce those stats that were quoted above? The WAEC exams are flooded with false results.That’s why majority of those with “high grades” never made it pass School Cert & go on blaming JAMB.

    • Daniel

      Take the honour of looking at where the South West got it wrong and make amends.

      No need to belly- ache the Igbos.

      Or do you expect other parts of the country not to make progress?


  • Rommel

    Graduating students from inside and outside of Nigeria will confirm this report, the south east has long surpassed the south west in education, this happened many years ago but because it meant nothing to us, we did not need to beat chests about it.

    • marcos avelino

      Its always about tribe or religion or section ! Primitive morons

      • Rommel

        Are you sure you understood what the discussion is all about? you seem to be the moron here

      • Guest

        Rommel is an exception Marcos, this man na proper “wazobia”. Rommel is a detribalized Nigerian.

  • Wetin Naija

    At the end, the Northerners will still occupy the important government positions. Appointments without merit

    • Facturas & Figuras


      There are now
      28 million un-employed youths inside Nigeria today, a staggering figure
      equal to the entire population of Ghana; a neighbouring West African country –
      according to a latest official bulletin issued by the federal Nigerian Bureau of
      Statistics. The horrific jobless figure in Nigeria today is over half the whole
      population of Nigeria at independence on October 1st, 1960 and equal
      to all the human beings living in Ghana today.

  • Chika Raphael Christian

    SE has taken the lead in Education. SS is coming strong too. SW is gradually falling.

    • Aso Rock Pikin (A.S.P)


      How Bola Tinubu and Raji Fashola destroyed Lagos

      Lagos state was thrust into ILLITERACY by the duo of Bola Tinubu and Raji Fashola, who,
      almost like morons, claimed to be too busy tarring existing roads to secure the future of
      the state with knowledge, as public schools fell apart without books, chairs or toilets.
      The patina on crass illiteracy blighting Lagos today is the result posted by private
      schools charging three to five million Naira per year as tuition.

      Remove the Waec result
      of those high cost private schools and the true picture will emerge;
      that Lagos state has had a consistent 80%-85% FAILURE in Waec
      examinations continuously from 1999 till date. As students failed,
      the retarded Raji Fashola planted flowers on sideways to sort
      of put lipstick on a huge pig as if a decorated monkey won’t
      be a monkey anymore after its decoration.. The ACN/APC
      Islamist party destroyed the foundation of knowledge in
      Lagos state and in every state that the party infected.
      Today, Lagos is globally adjudged the 2nd worst city
      in the whole world
      – a city blighted by APC illiteracy.

    • Tunsj

      If you believe that, I HAVE A BRIDGE TO SELL YOU.

  • LadyRosely

    There’s no victor here. Around the world the focus is on ensuring no child is left behind. Here we are celebrating 50% success in 5 credits out of a possible 9.

    We are unserious.

    • Kay

      Education system in Nigeria has totslly crumbled to the ground. In the 80’s, WAEC standard was very high, the marking schemes were very strict, yet general pass rate was far higher than what we have today… Later, NECO, which was restricted to conducting secondary school common entrance examination was given the nod to conduct the school leaving examination too, a deliberate attempt to bring down the standard for the children of the powerful forces in Nigeria. Similar scenarios played out in the ICAN/ANAN debacle, as routes to becoming chartered accountants.

      Then NECO started with a bonanza and WAEC was forced to lower its standard with the result being that students generally relaxed, knowing fully sure that they don’t have to be rigorously hardworking before attaining success.

      More so, the politicians and the military rulers interfered in everything and being well connected to them became the avenue through which getting employed in the public sector was assured ( Unfortunately, the pattern has become a norm in today’s Nigeria ) and competence became relegated to the background, resulting in the employment of too many non competent hands as teachers. Many teachers today, especially in the public schools are not just good enough..

      These factors, and many more get us to where we are today. We now have a situation where teachers, through their Union, put up strong resistance against the several attempts of some State Ministries of Education to have teachers write competence test. Just imagine a teacher that teaches students Algebra being afraid of writing Algebra competence test. The problem at hand is compound complex.

  • Gary

    This is what happens when half-educated traders replace educationists and intellectuals in leading their people. Hey, Alhaji Bola Tinubu – Awolowo, Ajasin and Tai Solarin sends their greetings from above about your leadership of the Yoruba nation.

    There’s no magic involved, Lagos is doing well largely due to the quality output of the numerous private schools in the state. Then Fashola handed the secondary schools back to the missions who originally established them.
    Peter Obi, who we should be begging to team up with Abubakar Umar to save the country from breaking up, did same in Anambra State. And rescued education in the state that Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB hotheads want to make the sacrificial lamb for Biafra.

    Watch as education in Imo State takes a tumble if the buffoonery of Rochas Okorocha continues unchecked. An Agbero cannot bring progress.
    In the Niger Delta, going to school is a settled issue. The problem is the lack of a vision for putting all that education to use via gainful employment. They go to school and then go to Lagos or abroad in search of jobs or careers. The crooked Agberos or Burma Boys of the region have no blueprint for industry or commerce to fully utilize the brainpower of their educated. They are too busy buying private jets, fleets of luxury cars and mansions for themselves in Abuja (Timipre Sylva), Dubai (James Ibori), Ikoyi and Lekki (all the rest from Peter Odili to Rotimi Amaechi).

    On a last note, imagine how much progress Nigeria will make if we Restructured for the regions to compete for excellence in Education, Healthcare and overall development.
    Instead of having centralized bodies like JAMB and NUC setting us into a race to the bottom under the guise of “even development”.

  • emmanuel

    Humans development is majorly affected by good nutrition of the father and mother of a child. Eastern Nigeria people feed excellently well and look more healthy than any other part of Nigerians , followed by the coastal South South people.
    That is lacking in the South West. I have over the last decade carried out independent survey on this and my findings did lead to the poor academic performance of the SW.

  • Truth is bitter

    This is what happens when you politicise education. Until all previous schools not founded by the government are returned to their owners, Yoruba children WILL continue to suffer the consequences of politicising education.

  • Frank Bassey

    You don’t need to go far to understand what happened. The APC and its progenitors are never development-oriented. This is after-effect of previous years of empty promises, over-bloated personality and benchmark failure.


    The SE is making strides in education despite the institutionalized marginalization , BIAFRA FOREVER !!

    • Gary

      Better tell them to think ahead of what will become of these students after they graduate. Without industry and commerce to provide gainful employment, the SE will have a lot of educated kidnappers and drugs dealers. And thugs in politics. Like we have in the SS.


        The Hausa-Fulani cheating must end and until equity reigns in the hell-hole, let it be known that the backwardness will continue. 10 DIRECTORS OF NNPC ARE NORTHERNERS, 3 ARE YORUBAS, 2 ARE NIGER DELTANS AND NONE IS FROM THE SE…………….ONE NIGERIA , MY FOOT !!

  • JJ

    Before anything else, the SW should first ensure there were no foul plays in the markings of the exam papers of their people by carrying out a thorough investigation to ensure their people were not victims of hatred circulating in the country particularly at the period mentioned. The Yorubas should know they are the main targets of a particular group, and the enemies can attack them from any angle, including rubbishing the education of their youths.

  • Kay

    While I very much agree to the fact that education is on the downward direction in the South West, I think some other factors need to be considered too, before coming up with a general conclusion. For instance, there is a need for examination malpractice pattern to be considered as well. In the last UTME examination, for instance, it was reported, even on this platform, that over ten thousand students were caught cheating in Anambra State alone, in an examination that did not last for more than a week. The questions are : what about those that were not caught? What of CCTV cameras were not deployed or used?

    In the said report, many centres in the South East were blacklisted by JAMB. No such technology based provisions to weed out cheats are in place to check malpractice in WAEC and some other exams.


      You are such a liar, who reported the 10,000 cheats and what happened after that, what about jamb , do they cheat as well ? your mind is really jaundiced, go seek out a doctor.

      • Kay

        Please sir, kindly follow the link I posted above. You may have to copy and paste it in the search bar. It was reported on this very news platform. Alternatively, you can do a custom search in the Premium Times search bar.


          Your statement is borne out of envy, such, there is no such report and answer me , are there no cheats in other states ?

          • Kay

            I answered your question above.

      • Kay
  • Kay

    This Is the link to the report I referred to : candidates-caught-cheating-in-anambra.html


      So there is no cheating in other states abi ? For 10 years Anambra has either been 1st or second, it is no magic or cheating, go and see how Peter Obi organised the educational system and built infrastructure for schools, there are fans in almost every classroom, there are school meals, and teachers are never owed salaries ,allowances or pensions yet Anambra recieved the least federal allocation for the past 20 years . Keep telling lies to yourself.

      • Kay

        I didn’t say there are no cases of cheating elsewhere. What I said was that before a valid conclusion can be arrived at, there is a need for every variable to be considered, one of which is cheating pattern. I said that because I am an empirical scientist, a reason for which I know that in conducting surveys, all possible factors must be considered.


          For the past decade , present evidence of a” pattern” or hide your head in shame, what about the other SE states who come in first 5 for the past 10 years… do they cheat as well ?

          • Kay

            That I said there was a need for all variables to be considered does not mean, I necessarily have to produce any pattern. Considering all variables is the way things work in empirical science.

            Do note that it is not a good practice to talk to a person with whom you are having a simple civil discussion harshly. I don’t do such, no matter the provocation, and I do not expect such from a matured person. Just counter, or argue in favour of or against anything I say and leave it there…have a good day sir.


            Stop making assertions which you cannot substantiate in a public forum.

          • Kay

            It is not an assertion. It is an expression of how valid conclusion are arrived at. It is the standard and norm everywhere in the word that one considers every variables before arriving at concussions.

          • Kay
          • Kay
          • Kay

            Go through those two different references I just posted, then you will realise that I didn’t fabricate anything I said.

  • Law

    Just note that Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s free education policy covered present day Edo and Delta States. Chief Awolowo was Premier of Western Region which before 1963 encompasses present day Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Ondo, Osun, Oyo States and some parts of present day Lagos State. The should take note of these facts to avoid distortion of history.

  • serubawon70

    South West state governments must make deliberate effort to improve the living standard and particularly the disposable income of their average household. A situation of 18000 min. wage and huge dependence on government spending and dwindling enterpreneurship forbodes darker future in the face of rising cost of education

    • Aso Rock Pikin (A.S.P)


      Breaking News: Lagos now rated 2nd worst city in the world

      Lagos state worsened and deteriorated badly
      under Raji Fashola’s roguery and incompetence and was rated the 3rd worst
      liveable city in the world in the year 2012. The terrible deterioration continued
      unabated under Raji Fashola’s daft; corrupt and ignorant administration; where
      flowers were being planted whilst schools rotted without chairs or tables.

      And so, in consequence today, Lagos has been worse downgraded by global economists
      in the year 2017 as the 2nd worst livable city in the whole world under the equally daft
      Governor Akin Ambode who has no priority, to talk more of ideas, as dirt and grime overtake
      highly illiterate Lagos, threatening epidemic of cholera and Lassa fever. “The global survey,
      released (last month) scores cities on five broad categories: stability; healthcare; culture and
      environment; education and infrastructure
      “. It was conducted by London’s Economist’s
      Intelligence Unit.

  • Dr

    The SW should not lose sleep over this. 5 SE states always in the top 10 list tells every observer that it is a result of monumental malpractice. The last statistics of exams malpractice by JAMB is enough evidence

    • emmanuel

      The prizes and academic honours and recognition received by South East Nigerians in the last twenty years are clear indicators of where the pendulum has tilted.
      The high tech cheating by the Ivy league private schools and the Public schools in Lagos is monumental.
      Read my earlier post and decide what you do with your generations to come. Majority Yorubas hardly feed well and would rather save their resources to organise or attend big parties at the expense of taking good care of the home front.
      Ewedu, Amala (Yam skin), Pōmō, śawá, eja panla, little quantity of Obé éfo and ōbé ata. whatelse? Agege bread ati ewa.
      Even middle class Yorubas are shocked when they visit their lower level other tribe people and see what feeding pattern is like. Same stories for my family friends who are contemporaries. They do not believe that feeding is a family project.
      Imagine feeding a new born baby with plain ogi and before long graduate into Amala with little quantity of ewedu (for the poor).
      This is a message that should be well digested by the Yorubas.
      Check the Yoruba who do well in academics, they are usually of the globalised food stock and adventurous with food

    • Factsayer

      Sorry for urself. The civil war time is gradually being phased out as the igbos retake their performance. Yaribas hate igbos for envious reasons only. No amount of Arab hatred for jews will change God’s favour on the isrealites

  • Kay

    The problem at hand is compound complex

  • Wilfred Bankole Ademokun

    Exam Malpractice is common in south east so why worry?

    • Mike

      ‘cheating’ as an upsetting variable is probably constant throughout the states in the south. Not like the exams are uniformly cheat-free in any of the zones( North or South). The pass-fail ratios would still follow roughly same patterns if one were to imagine the cheating away.
      It would be like the census results and exaggerations. Within certain boundaries the exaggerated figures still fall in line when compared with each other but then ofc do not on specifics.

  • Olugbenga Roberts

    Figures don’t lie but their interpretation may be faulty. Performance in
    SSCE examinations follow the same trends as election results in
    Nigeria. We all know where fantastic figures are always manufactured
    even though there is often cause for worry. These are the same states
    topping the WAEC performance charts! Even in states where everyone goes
    trading or where everyone goes to the farm during school periods, WAEC
    performance indicator is still monumental!

    • Braun

      Keep deceiving yourself. If it had been the other way around, would you have questioned it?

  • Ezekiel

    99% of schools in Nigeria pass students excellently in schools’ exams even when they can’t even write their names correctly at the age they ought to and sell answers to their pupils during WAEC/GCE examinations for them to copy and paste while WAEC sells certificates to able buyers as in Jankara market at Yaba their head office. I have solid proofs.