The Sun News

JAMB’s pass mark and confused education system

Nigerian young people who enrolled in Nigerian universities prior to 1977 and 1978 never envisaged the multiple travails of today’s young ones aspiring to university education here.

Later, this body that makes many students shed tears and also over time teaches many of them to cheat to scale the hurdle was created. Who in this generation doesn’t know that learning the fear of JAMB is the beginning of your way up the education ladder to the tertiary level? The body has gone through so much and also enjoyed the powers to play god over the years, yet, you can give it to JAMB as one of the most innovative public sector organizations in Nigeria. They have done so much to cut cheating candidates to size and square up with them in their game.

From a JAMB that delayed your acknowledgement after filling and sending the application form to them to a JAMB that stopped you lining up at the post office to buy the form, it moved further to a JAMB where you register and get your result online just few days after the exams. Soon, the way JAMB moves, it would come to a candidate getting response of her score after clicking on the last question with fast digitization and ICT adaptation.

But after all these innovations, including almost cheating-proof format, it seems the supervising federal education ministry is out to frustrate JAMB. And sometimes, especially after the introduction of a second hurdle entrance exams after scaling JAMB, which happens at the universities, many of us have questioned the importance of JAMB since it is no longer the criteria for admission.

Just for one year, a confused system shelved the university second admission exams, and just the next year, the same ministry, the same minister returned the second hurdle entrance exam at the universities. It bears a flowery name – Post-UTME. But the real names could be fraud and unnecessary stress for the candidates and their parents. Only last week Minister Adamu Adamu ate his words and re-introduced the post UTME exams and told us he was misinformed last year. Now, who is sure of who re-informed him now, if such didn’t actually deform him to blow hot and cold just one year after.

It is a shameful and confusing system that never moves in definite and predictable tracks. Everyone that nudges the policymakers with personal interests convinces them to drop what they have and go for worse confusion. So, here we are with all tottering and toying with post-UTME, the fees, the headache, the pressure on the students and the money-making channel for the school system.

As we tinker with our trial-and-error approach like a people groping in the dark, I keep guessing why the output of these experiments – the students produced from our schools, keep losing quality every year.

After some had gone through five years of secondary education, someone came in the days of Prof. Babs Fafunwa as education minister and created the 6-3-3-4 system and stretched secondary education to six years.

Yet, another came, possibly, Oby Ezekwesili or Obaji and sang a new tune called Basic Education where the basic school is supposed to be nine straight years from the beginning, after which the graduate jumps into senior secondary. Yet, our products turn out worse, calling to question the efficacy of these new styles. And to see it’s even lacking in confidence, the children of these people that tinker and toy with the process don’t benefit from it because they are not found around here. They are overseas, schooling and getting better deals. So, they work out policies they don’t believe in and have no stakes in. That is our fate.

That is also the same fate this latest somersault would suffer before next year when the next confusion would be introduced. What on earth justifies a second entrance examination for these students when these hurdles have not made them turn out better? They keep taking more and more exams to qualify only to disqualify from good quality products.

Some university courses even upgraded the number of years of qualification such as the law course that some many years ago did in four years. It later added one more year; yet, we get it worse at the end. Why?  The ‘why’ is the coaching quality that had been on the decline and instead of these gamblers telling themselves the truth and solve the problem from there, they act like they don’t know how to solve it.

In the past 30 years, no graduate from Nigerian universities completed her stipulated academic calendar. I once did a researched report that opened my eyes that since 1999, Nigerian tertiary institutions in every academic year succeeded in running just 50% of the study calendar. The students have stayed at home more than in school.

Early this year, Benue State University teachers went on strike for over three months and resumed two weeks before the general ASUU strike and they have joined without waiting for the students to take their exams. While the student stayed away at home for four months of teachers’ strike, he is asked to come back and start exams after two weeks of lectures. So when did he study to prepare for this exam?

The cumulative effect is that even those good ones the system produce that should have been the teachers find their way out to make a living because teaching is no longer attractive. At last our school system ejects the best to retain the worst as today and future teachers. It applies from primary schools.

That is why the grades keep tumbling, and Adamu Adamu keeps vacillating, keeps floundering and the answer keeps retreating.

Today, ASUU is on strike over agreements of years ago. It had been the same tale that governments from the IBB cancerous days signed agreements they never meant to keep and we keep fighting over it to a point many question if ASUU can’t stop all the strike. But how can they stop when some of them still remember what even our own education system used to be?

Maybe with time, after the entire academic system must have been taken over from top down by the generation of students groomed under ASUU strike, the downturn would have leveled up as the new normal and they won’t know the difference and the strikes would stop. That is a means of using death, the end game, as curative method. The dead feels no more pangs of an ailment.

They know these approaches are not workable, reason they send their kids to schools outside the shores. I have been seeing a trending report online about the 10 best and most expensive schools in Africa where Nigerian powerful and the rich send their beloved kids and do you know none of them is in Nigeria. Most of them are in South Africa and Egypt and the least they pay for a child is about $12,000 some per semester.

After all said and done, these same charlatans that lie to their conscience would make you believe they love Nigeria and aspire for a greater future for it. That is why JAMB and FG connived to ridiculously lower pass mark to earn admission into the universities to about 30%. They defend and still want the students to take another entrance at the universities even when they say they believe in the new benchmark. If that is so good, why then create another hurdle for these candidates.

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