Ezeigbo decries waning writing skills among secondary school pupils

Former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola (right); Chairman, Mike Okonkwo Educational and Youth Initiative Yearly Lecture Prof. George Obiozor; winner of the essay competition and student of Port-Harcourt International School, Rivers State, Emeto Chisom; Presiding Bishop, The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM)Dr, Mike Okonkwo; his wife Peace and Professor of English, University of Lagos, Prof, Akachi Ezeigbo at the 16th Mike Okonkwo Yearly Lecture in Lagos. PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI

Former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola (right); Chairman, Mike Okonkwo Educational and Youth Initiative Yearly Lecture Prof. George Obiozor; winner of the essay competition and student of Port-Harcourt International School, Rivers State, Emeto Chisom; Presiding Bishop, The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM)Dr, Mike Okonkwo; his wife Peace and Professor of English, University of Lagos, Prof, Akachi Ezeigbo at the 16th Mike Okonkwo Yearly Lecture in Lagos. PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI

MOEC winners bag N.3m
Author, essayist and professor of English language at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, has lamented the worsening writing skills among secondary school pupils in the country, stressing the need rev up essay and sundry writing skills.

Adimora-Ezeigbo made the call at 16th Mike Okonkwo Annual Lecture at the MUSON Centre, Lagos, where the immediate past governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, charged Nigerians to take the task of holding their leaders accountable seriously.

Adimora-Ezeigbo, who is the Chief Examiner of the Mike Okonkwo Essay Competition, in her Examiners’ Report presented in the course of the lecture regrettably noted that the quality of essays received for the competition from across the country was below par.

“After applying standard criteria in the assessment, we noticed, as usual, a downward spiral in the quality of writing and the expression of ideas,” Adimora-Ezeigbo said, adding that most of the 2, 997 entries fell foul of the plagiarism test, underscoring the need to teach pupils how to acknowledge resources that are not their own in their writing.

The university don also noted that of the 2, 667 entries, only the seven finalists, who were rewarded at the event, were found to have passed the scrutiny of originality and good writing.

“The standard criteria,” she said, included “crosschecking each entry carefully with Internet sources to determine how students understand the difference between research and plagiarism, and how they analyse and synthesise received ideas to form opinions of their own. Based on these criteria, we identified and invited seven participants to the second stage of the competition, which is mainly a confirmatory procedure.”

The university teacher continued, “We can report that Internet usage and penetration is quite high among our young people. They seem to have significant knowledge of how to access the information they need. As is often the case with everything that is easy to learn, they have mastered the technique of getting cheap information in amazing ways.  But for many of them, there is nothing wrong downloading the information and presenting it as their own.  This is where they require guidance from teachers and from their parents.  We need to re-emphasise the point that parents and teachers should not write the essays for the children. Rather, they should guide them to write the essays themselves.  As the second stage of our essay competition has often shown, students who are helped to the top do not often stay long there.  They come crashing almost immediately.”

She stressed the importance of strengthening the teaching of history in schools, as many of the pupils reflected historical facts in discussing the topic: “The Nigerian Political Class and the Citizens Quest for Good Governance,” most of which they got from the Internet.

Fashola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), in his lecture, titled: “The Nigerian Political Class and the Citizens’ Quest for Good Governance,” while lamenting that individuals and parties at times do not return to office on the basis of good governance said: “Some Nigerians voted for party or individual as a result of various gifts received from them, such as money, sponsorship to Jerusalem or Hajj.

While insisting that some Nigerians prefer “stomach infrastructure” to good governance, which ought to be the basis for re-electing a person, he stressed the need for the issue of holding elected leaders accountable to become the norm in our country if we hope to improve the country’s fortune.

The top three winners were rewarded with cash prizes, trophies, plaques and computers and printers for their schools. First placed Chisom Emeto of Port Harcourt International School, Port Harcourt, got N100, 000, a trophy, and three computers and a printer for his school.

Chisom also got N25, 000 presented to him by Matthew Adeiza, the 2005 winner of the competition.  Adeiza, now a graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Jos, urged Chisom to “pay the gift forward” in future.
“When I won, someone gave me, I think N1, 000 or N500, and said I should pay it forward.  When I won, the prize was N25, 000.  Now I present N25, 000 to the winner and say go ahead and pay it forward,” he said.

Mirabel Asuquo, who finished second got N75, 000, a plaque and two computers and a printer for her school, Redeemers International Secondary School, East-West Road, Nkpolu, also in Port-Harcourt. Third placed Jonathan Ihejirika of King’s College, Lagos got N50, 000, a plaque and a computer for his school.

The remaining finalists, Awe Iyanuoluwa Modupe of Chapel Secondary Schooln Ilorin; Aladegbami Oluwadamilola of Hallmark Secondary School Ondo State; Muhammed Babayo of Premier Academy, Lugbe, Abuja FCT; and Iro Akanma of Kuramo Senior Secondary School, Victoria Island, got N20, 000 each as consolation prize.

The essay competition, initiated in 2004, as part of activities to celebrate Dr Okonkwo’s birthday is part of his efforts to contribute to the development of the country’s education sector.



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