The 30% university admission cut-off point
Sir: The fastest way to destroy a nation is to kill her educational system. The tertiary educational system, which is expected to correct anomalies from the primary and secondary schools and produce leaders that can pivot national development in all its ramifications is now bedeviled with controversial admission cut-off mark. A university graduate is supposed to be the epitome or an indicator of a progressing country in conduct and contribution to national development. Sadly, this is not the case with Nigeria where everyone is crazy about university education because a paper degree determines everything and degrees from the other tertiary institutions are seen as being too inferior to be used for intelligent assessment and rating of individuals.
There is no gainsaying that the quality of our university graduates has gone far below expectation, especially in science and engineering. The laboratory facilitates that were available in the seventies and eighties are no longer there and it is possible that some chemistry graduates have never saw a pH meter in their laboratory. Such situation has only help the Universities to produce theoretical scientists and engineers.
JAMB and some other stakeholders have reacted differently to justify their action. However, in all the reactions, none has mentioned that admission into Federal Universities (which I know of) is based on three or four criteria such as merit, catchment areas, and others, with percentages attached to each. The merit list is based purely on merit so if a course has an admission space for 100 students and if 20% is earmarked for the merit list, the first 20 students on the admission list irrespective of their state of origin are admitted. Coming to the catchment list, every Federal University has its own catchment states and a certain percentage is allotted to this. In this category and depending on the state, a student can score 120 and be admitted, and at the same time a student who doesn`t belong to the catchment state can score over 200 and will not be admitted. This is the reality on ground.
So, by bringing down the cut-off to 120 will not in any way help savage the situation where many qualified candidates are not being admitted, it will only help the catchment areas to have more slots at the expense of other candidates. There wouldn`t have been any controversy if admission is based purely on merit.
If we follow the example of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Services (UCAS) in UK and there is honesty in the conduct of WASCE and NECO, JAMB will not have any reason to process another entrance examination for admission into the universities. What is our priority as a country in the educational sector? I think the whole sector needs to be overhauled and have properly defined programmes and courses that will make Nigeria a self-reliant nation in all spheres.
Many courses in our curricula are no longer relevant in today’s economy.
Dr. Moses Omojola is Director, Industrial Chemicals and Minerals, Raw Materials Research and Development Council, Abuja.
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