Nigeria is an interesting country, most of the time her thinking and perspectives are warped and lopsided. In the 21st century of innovations and technology, the country’s minister of technology was promising Nigerians that in the nearest future Nigeria will start producing pencils. While others are assiduously tinkering in space technology, feeding their people plentifully and building modern hospitals – Nigeria is talking about fabricating pencils.
But why is Nigeria lagging behind? Take a look at quality of her education.
Education is most important component for development and economic growth. But Nigeria is busy lowering her standard of education while importing inferior technology and products from China.
JAMB for its 2017/18 session has lowered the cut-off marks to 120 for universities and 100 for polytechnics. When concerned Nigerians question their decisions, JAMB insisted that the lower cut-off marks will deter the students from not going abroad for their studies, thereby conserving foreign exchange. JAMB is not Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with monetary policy responsibility; its function is to be a standardized test facilitator in educating and training the finest work force.
JAMB a ‘cartel’ bequeathed with responsibility of offering standardized test for admissions into the higher institutions has turned into a mercantile agency that negotiate quality of education as in free market. Yes, I called JAMB a cartel, because it has metamorphosed or rather morphed from an examination agency into an economic arrangement with supposedly fiscal coordination with the government. Educational standard cannot be negotiated or you will pay a price at long run.
JAMB has also become a social engineering agency that has become a tool for administering of quota system by the manipulation of cut-off marks. This has slowly but gradually introduced the rise and practice of mediocrity at expense of meritocracy. In the finality, mediocrity has fully eclipsed meritocracy in the JAMB sphere of influence.
When I read their reason for lowering cut-off marks, I could not believe what I was reading. Wonders can never cease happening in Nigeria, so now the value and standard of education must be undermine to conserve foreign exchange that a corrupt politician will readily embezzle. Nigeria has finally lost her senses of making a rightful decision.
Why will a country deliberately destroy the quality of her education? This is antithesis and antithetical to building a modern nation and economy. JAMB is not aware that with a high standard of education, Nigeria can attract foreign students and that can be a source of earning hard currency for the country.
Before Nigeria began her quest to kill quality of her education in tertiary institutions, she used to be the envy of the world. In those yesteryears Nigerian students and graduates can compete with anybody regardless of their countries. That was the good old days, when degrees from Nigerian universities carry respect and recognition.
Not anymore, now there are cut-off marks to appease everybody and every group in Nigeria. The cut-off marks have been deployed for quota system and affirmative action. There is no generic cut-off mark for the whole country but different cut-off marks for different states in Nigeria. To further sweeten the pie, a graduating student needs to score 30 percent of the grade point average (GPA) for convocation. This is the end of education.
Nigeria must learn from the words spoken by the former president of Harvard University Derek Bok, “If you think education is expensive try ignorance.”