Wednesday, 05 August 2015 12:11

On JAMB's Increased Universities/Polytechnics cut-off marks

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Nigerian Secondary School StudentsWhen I read about the position of the body responsible for organizing entrance examinations into Nigerian Universities and Polytechnic (Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB))'s new cut off mark for entrance into Nigerian institutions of higher learning, I was perplexed a great deal.

To any casual observer, the high cut off mark should be celebrated as a step in the right direction. One would even imagine that this singular act will add more value to the educational system in Nigeria.

What the aforementioned means is simple, if you want to be considered for admission into any of the higher education institutions in Nigeria, the grade you will obtain from the JAMB exams better be top notch otherwise your dreams of acquiring a university or polytechnic education will become a mirage. In saner climes, this would be celebrated as a step in the right direction. In Nigeria, putting into consideration the level of decadence found in our educational sector, this could be likened to expecting to reap an apple fruit when an orange seed have been sowed.

Before we think of setting such a high standard for our aspiring undergraduates, we should first and foremost dwell on whether what we call primary schools and secondary schools in Nigeria are glorified centers of mediocrity or not. We should ask questions like, 'what standard of education is obtainable in the years prior to a university education in Nigeria?'.Are we putting a lot of pressure and expectations on students who have been denied the basics of a good, quantitative, and above all, qualitative education?

What is the quality of the people we regard as primary and secondary school teachers? Do they even qualify to be teaching in the aforementioned level of institutions? Setting such a high standard for university admission without a corresponding mode of action on the quality of education obtainable at both the primary and secondary school level is not only hypocritical but also infused with denial-ism. We should not expect to get different results while we are hell bent on applying the same methods.

Before we deem it fit to upgrade the standards one have to attain to get admitted into one of our numerous institutions of higher learning, it would be nice to also perform a corresponding action by going back to the drawing board to ascertain exactly what is it that triggered this action of a raised university admission standard. We cannot solve a problem by dealing with its symptoms only. We should find ways to prevent these problems from arising in the first place.

Pro-activity entails that we should embark on a long overdue root-cause analysis that should have the provision of the right infrastructures, man power and personnel necessary for the improvement of our dilapidated educational system as its main findings. The standard should be improved from the bottom and not from the top. Why should we expect a pupil or students who have gone through a very messy and substandard primary and secondary school level to become a miracle worker all of a sudden? We need to prioritize our priorities, we need to start from the scratch, after which we should allow the natural process take its full cause. The results will manifest itself naturally. What JAMB is doing right now could be likened to one chasing after a mouse when one’s house is on fire.

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Johnson-Ehidonye Patrick Sopuruchukwu Bernard

Mr. Johnson-Ehidonye Patrick Sopuruchukwu Bernard is Political activist and social critic on Nigerian, African and World affairs. Ambassador at the University of the People, Pasadena California. U.S.A