Nigeria: Standards in Education - JAMB's Bench-Mark

Just when you think that Nigeria's declining educational standards cannot get any more heart-rending, it seems that it could be worsen...

Just when you think that Nigeria's declining educational standards cannot get any more heart-rending, it seems that it could be worsened by official complicity, as the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) had set out to do, before the Federal Government overruled the policy.

The JAMB's policy of making 180 the cut-off mark for admission into universities was nothing short of a deliberate plan to truncate the future of Nigeria by enthroning mediocrity in the educational system. This should be condemned by everyone who wants the products of the nation's educational system to compete with their counterparts in any part of the world. Moreover, JAMB also compounded issues by advising that candidates with lower cut-off marks apply for placement in universities with insufficient applicants.

It is indeed a shame that standards are now so low as to compel JAMB to contemplate this scheme. It is much more disgraceful that Nigerians are even debating this low standardisation.

If through this choice of 180 cut-off mark, JAMB, as was claimed, was attempting to create admission opportunities for candidates that are educationally disadvantaged or fill slots in less preferred universities, then it is high time it changed tack, enthroned meritocracy and ensured the best students only enter the nation's universities. This should be the best approach at a time when the rest of the world attaches much importance to quality education.

While disparities in educational levels of the different parts of the country must be acknowledged, the best response to this is not to allow the nation to be marooned in mediocrity. A higher standard for Nigerians to strive to attain is, indeed, what is needed.

For if all the citizens of the country must solve their national problems together and ensure that the country's educational standard is competitive, there must be a clear-cut and unifying standard for the whole nation. Educational standards are universal, and for Nigeria that should be eager to join the race for technological advancement, the country must adhere to these universal standards. Instead of standards being bent for some students who are not eligible for university education, such should be encouraged to opt for polytechnics or colleges of education. For the implication is that if these candidates who cannot score above 180 got into the universities, these tertiary institutions would also lower their standards for them to cope with their studies, thereby making the journey to the republic of mediocrity more irreversible.

If there is an area of national life that should be completely divorced from any sentiments while the highest standards are upheld, it is Nigeria's educational system. It is then the responsibility of each state in the federation to prepare its citizens to meet this agreed national standards as there should not be different ones for different parts of the country. States should, instead, invest massively in education, get qualified teachers to prepare their indigenes for national examinations like that of JAMB and pay for their citizens' development.

Quota system blatantly negates the spirit of excellence and the nation's quest for development. It denies university admission to a high-scoring candidate whose state has invested heavily in education, while a low-scoring candidate from another state that has neglected to give the necessary incentives to education is given admission. It is also sad that the same leaders who refuse to invest in the education of their citizens are the ones that send their children to the best schools overseas. Such elite dishonesty is unacceptable. It is dubious and should be seen as crime against the society.

What is now sufficiently indicative of the general decay in Nigeria is that the new optimum is the average and the genius is frustrated. As a nation, this cannot be encouraged. It is incumbent on governments and their agencies at all levels to ensure that the level of education in the country is improved. And since the future development of the nation is tied to its youths, government at all levels must make the right investment in education. The country should strive to nurture system whose products would be competitive with their counterparts in the rest part of the world.

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