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Applicants and university admission
LOOKING distraught and dejected, Ade sat solitarily under a mango tree supporting his left jaw with his palm.
Tears streamed down his cheeks. A few passers-by soon surrounded the 23-year old to ascertain what was amiss.
He struggled to utter a few words amidst sobbing about his predicament. The crux of the matter: he had just blown what he considered as another chance for him to study in one of the first generation universities. Ade had, in the past, made five attempts at gaining admission to study in any of the federal universities, and his latest effort hit the rock, as he scored below the cut-off mark in a post-JAMB test.
He is just one of the millions of the Nigerian youth with required qualifications but who have consistently been unable to scale the hurdle of admission to tertiary institutions, particularly universities in the country. Yet, the number of such institutions has more tripled over the years. One thing about Ade’s case is that he is not ready to study in any of the privately- owned universities in the country. One of the reason is economic as he hails from an average home, which cannot afford the outlandish tuition and other levies being charged by those universities.
The other factor is his parents’ conviction that their child could get the best education only from a federal university because of they are considerably better equipped and funded.
His parents have the right to hold such belief and insist on it. But the reality is that the country is faced with the big challenge in the education sector, particularly on the issue of admission for hundreds of thousands of the youth yearning for formal education and the conviction of most parents that the best legacy for a child is education. About 1,503 931candidates sat for the 2012 JAMB 2012 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination [UTME]. In the previous year, the figure was 1.5 million candidates with most of them seeking placements in federal universities. However, only 20 per cent were eventually offered admission due to space constraints. The number of applicants for the 2010 UTME was 1,276, 795 with a very marginal per cent of the figure securing admission.
Recently, the federal authorities pegged the cut-off mark for admission to universities at 180. The decision attracted flaks from some stakeholders, who felt it could further lead to a fall in the standard of education in the country. However, some federal universities, especially the first generation ones, have settled for 200 marks as the cut-off margin. This development has provided an avenue for most of the privately-owned universities to adopt weird strategies towards attracting candidates so desperate for university education. Besides, conducting post-JAMB tests two or more times to meet certain logistics demands, the universities are trying to lure both parents or guardians of the applicants to other schools with text messages, claiming JAMB had forwarded the result of the candidates to their institutions.
There are also cases of some parents succumbing to pressure from their wards, who had lost the hope of getting placements at home to seek admission to the universities neighbouring Ghana and some Francophone countries.
But some parents often end up being swindled by the members of a cartel that specialises in such deals. All these are indications that so many things are still wrong with our education system. It is sad that we are unable to meet the admission requirement of the teeming population of the youth that are yearning for higher education.
The multiplicity of universities in the country can neither be the immediate nor longer time solution to thesechallenges. The Federal Government is not in any way addressing the problems by establishing more universities. The wisest approach should have been to fully equip the existing ones and expand their capacity to accommodate more students without compromising standards. The large chunk of salaries and allowances being paid to political office holders ought to be ploughed into such areas because of the importance of education and technology to the economic growth and development of a nation. It is a lame excuse for anyone to think or believe that not every qualified applicant deserves a place in the university.
Both state and federal-owned universities ought to complete each other on the issue of admission, coupled with contributions to national development. Sadly, most of the private ones have priced education out of the reach of the majority of applicants for university education through outlandish tuition and levies. At a time that most homes cannot afford regular meals a day, some of the universities collect between N500,000 and one million as tuition pre academic session per students. How many members of those churches and religious organisations with very large ‘congregations’ that owned universities have their wards in the universities? Yet, it is not unlikely that many of their leaders enjoyed government or other forms of scholarships during their time. Are those universities expected to offer social services by providing sound academic and moral education or be operated as business outfits with the sole aim of profit-making?
But what should we expected in the country, where lawmakers tend place premium on pecuniary interests to the detriment of issues that bother on the future of the youth? What do you expect in a society where the affluence believes in bribing legislators so that he could short change the system? What do we expect from a system where an unprivileged man or woman, in a dire strait owing to a near terminal ailment, needs just $5,000, which is less than [$620,000] to avert a looming disaster, but no one hearkens to his Save My Soul [SOS] message?
Oderemi, 08023501874 (SMS only)
“Molue in the air! That was exactly my remark when I flew Dana Airline [Abuja-Lagos] late 2011. Not only Dana, a large number of planes flying Lagos to Port-Harcourt, Enugu, etc, are ramshackle.”…Dare Sowemimo.