Today is for the people to air their views in the People’s Parliament, but the format for today’s outing will be different because the issue discussed last week is somewhat very important matter that is central both for qualitative education in our nation and national cohesion. The discourse on JAMB attracted many reactions. Put on a scale some appeared more serious and very instructive than others. What I chose to do is to balance various interests and offer elucidation as a result of some issues raised; so I will to take some of the reactions I consider very germane and then make my own comments with the intention to offer further clarifications that would enable all of us to understand the issues in question.
I take the first one from Chief Agono Enemadukwu 08035475402, who wrote and said: “You have not told us why we should disband JAMB and what we stand to benefit from that. Why should we have stopped JAMB instead of the universities? Or do you intend a follow up?” As has become a custom, I like interacting with some of my ardent readers especially the ones who show brilliance. Chief Agono is one of them so on returning from church service, I quickly replied him. I told him: “Every answer you want is there in the piece you read and I emphasized in case he did not get it very clear that JAMB besides being a product of deceptive thinking, is a manifest usurper of the role it has been saddled with.” I told him the following: 1. Admission of students is one of the natural responsibilities of the universities, and it is one way they can shape the character of their institution. Universities make their names through the kind of students they admit. I told him not every applicant gains admission into Oxford and Harvard. 2. I enlightened him that removing JAMB from a role it is not well suited to play will enhance the concept of university autonomy, which is what makes any university or tertiary institution real a citadel of learning and promotes their viability. They should earn income through sources that are inherent in the system and admission of students is one of such, among many others. 3. Scrapping JAMB will inspire quality as the universities compete to get the best students and to improve learning so as to make name, impact and be attractive to parents who desire good education for their wards. 4. It will promote national unity and cordial inter-ethnic relations as adolescents with pregnable minds would be free from the clutches of discrimination and hate which the activities of JAMB (catchment areas, educational disadvantaged states (in 2016?) quota system) currently promotes. 5. It would remove duplication of roles with attendant waste of scarce resources and distortions that go with it. 6. I said the task now should be to install federalism and do away with unitarism, and one good way to start is to scrap wasteful institutions like JAMB which compound national problems through undue bureaucracy. Besides, every state now has both state and federal institutions, so the issue of disadvantaged should not be associated with us at this stage of our national development. If even there were to be areas lagging behind in education, it is wrong to stop others from making progress. What is required are special enlightenment programmes and legislations targeted against parents who for any reason will not see the need to allow their children to go to school. After a long interface, Chief Agono saw reasons to agree and even to raise new points to buttress my position.
Innocent Ukadike [email protected]hoo.com, in his comments said: “Why was it that when a southern president was in power, there was more pressure from northern elite for nomadic education than when there is a northern president? This shows how we have managed the education sector just dancing around tribal jingoists.
M.D. Sule, 08023386183 said, “most of you journalists are far from government and governance. How many parastatals get statutory allocations since the days of IBB day?” I have been in governance at some appreciable level until very recently. It is true all parastatals may not get, yet the point Sule made is the exact reason why parastatals like JAMB should go with immediate effect. Many of these parastatals just bloat bureaucracy, pretending to do assignments a small unit in a ministry could do if we were serious with vision, merit and competence. Many parastatals are products of our inability to think and lack of capacity to effect positive structural changes in many organs of government. Many of the parastatals are adhoc options meant to side tract begging issues. From the look of things, this approach has backfired and the drop in national income earnings is making it possible for some of us to see the consequences of our refusal to confront serious national challenges frontally in the best manner possible.
Engr (Sir) Friday Ogbuji, 08036674978, asked what on the surface would appear a simple question which I know was loaded: “I understand all you said, but leaving universities to do their thing, won’t it lead to what all of us fear low quality education?” I told him the fear should even be the reason the universities should be allowed to swim and sink with their decisions and outlook. If the products of a university don’t exhibit excellence in learning and character in the outside world, people would know and consequences will follow. I told him that a tertiary institution is not a place to nurture, it is a place to consolidate and if one thing is clear today, it is the fact that we have allowed a system that encourages collateral damage to exist for a long time and JAMB is part of it.
A bombshell came from 07061392936: “The issue of which between JAMB and universities should serve the interest of parents and students better has been debated over the years and an incontrovertible conclusion arrived at that the former JAMB is preferable. You may be right that the norm in other climes is for institutions to be allowed to do their own thing but we must consider peculiarity of case where these universities and lecturers are desperate to make money at the expense of parents and students. Government cannot successfully control the finances of institutions she is not directly in-charge.” I replied this way: “I like the truth because it is the cure for deception. As I said earlier, our leaders complicated our problems by their deliberate choice of shortcuts and “adhocism” as a strategy in trying to build supposed sustainable society. We should not be running away from problems rather we should be confronting them with the best prescriptions, bad behaviour of lecturers and university management is another good reason why we should ask the councils to take charge and do the proper thing; at governmental levels, nothing prevents us from using legislations like the sex bill to tackle new challenges. I don’t like running away from real solutions when that is what is required, today because of ineffectiveness and inefficiency we subscribe to privatization and commercialization of everything that took us years of sweat to acquire; is it working?
From Dr. Daminagbo Briggs, lil[email protected], came this comment: “I quite agree with you on this subject matter. I wrote a novel far back in 2002, titled “AZ MAFIA – the Namerian Experience.” The tragedy of JAMB and its scrapping was highlighted in it. It is a master piece! You need to read it. The issue is serious, more than what a fictional novel can handle, it is time those who know what ought to be done begin to publicly insist.”