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Truth to tell: quite a number of factors has been identified over the years by professional educators, policy makers, the government as well as other concerned individuals as the major bottlenecks in the Nigerian education system. Some of which are not unconnected to insufficiency or complete lack of funds, inadequate provision of men and materials, improper implementation of educational policies, discontinuity of policies or worse still, instability of government plans and programmes as well as a host of many others.
Admittedly, the Federal Government, has over time taken bold steps towards addressing these challenges but it is rather bewildering how among all, instability in educational policies has defied solutions, a quintessence of which is the recent switch from Post Unified Tertiary Matriculation (henceforth abbreviated as Post-UTME) to the Point System Option (henceforth abbreviated as P.S.O) and vice versa.
The reactions that trailed the ban on Post-UTME in June 2016 were only expected as many Nigerians could not, and perhaps still cannot fathom the rationality behind such a move while others saw reasons with the serving Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu who was reported by Vanguard on Friday June 3, 2016 to have defended the ministry’s decision saying, ‘As far as I am concerned, the universities should not be holding another examination[s]… no need to conduct another test for students to gain admission.’
On the contrary, however, barely fifteen months after the introduction of the P.S.O, Nigerians were hit with a more tornadic admission policy of reversion to the abandoned Post-UTME, and with the same Minister of Education quoted on the pages of Guardian News of Thursday 17, August 2017 to have said ‘We are going to allow universities organize Post-UTME if they want… We are now wiser’. The questions subconsciously fill the mouths of well-meaning Nigerians and students alike: Are we so confused and deluded in Nigeria? Is the education of our youths supposed to be a desk for playing cards of probability or trial and error? What has happened to the P.S.O method of allocating points to the grades obtained in the Senior School Certificate Examinations? Has the P.S.O already proven inaccurate for admitting students into higher institutions of learning? Does Post-UTME hold better promise for the education system?
MANY QUESTIONS BEGGING FOR ANSWERS!
While many have viewed the reversion to Post-UTME as a forward stride toward backwardness, staunch proponents still hold that the system remains the most trustworthy method of admission but it, however, goes without saying that the reversion is a product of the nation’s lack of objectivity and this portends lots of consequences.
- LACK OF UNIFORMITY IN ASSESSMENT
Save for the institutional divide which separates Colleges of Education from Polytechnics on the one hand, and both of them from Universities on the other hand, several institutions deliberately mischievously confront applicants with difficult questions since there are no bodies regulating such exams thereby frustrating the efforts of hardworking students and nipping their hopes in the bud. What could be more rebarbative and exasperating than obtaining a considerable good result from the SSCE, jamming the dreaded JAMB only to be deprived admission at the last stage of entry into one’s institution of choice leaving aspirants with shattered hopes and dreams.
- POST-UTME IMPOSES FINANCIAL BURDEN ON STUDENTS ON STUDENTS
Several tertiary institutions have abused the Post-UTME and subjected students to untold financial hardship by the apparent extortion of students in the name of entrance exams. Few of such cases cry for mention. Despite the Federal Government’s plea with universities, the University of Ibadan (UI), for example, charges N2,500 for the examination proper and N5,000 as a supposed Administrative charge. The Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka has reportedly followed suit with a total of N6,000 per candidate excluding charges for result checker cards where they apply. So much for a deluded education system!
- LACK OF TRANSPARENCY
In line with the trend of ‘connection’ that has become the order of the day, the issue of ‘sorting’ or ‘oga wetin you carry’ approach to attaining a particular height in the country as well as the absence of a common standardized method of assessing students for admission, surely leaves it prone to manipulations by privileged desperate aspirants. Consequent upon which intelligent students with stellar performances are deprived admission and their slots filled by mediocre students who are able to grease the palms of the ‘ogas at the top’ or with whom they have blood ties. More so, several cases abound of students who are given different courses from those which they actually applied for, thereby thwarting the career plans of these students and dousing their motivation. A good number of them eventually drop out of those courses or finish as clueless graduates owing to disinterest in their courses of study.
- POST-UTME EXPOSES DESPERATE STUDENTS TO SWINDLERS
What would an admission seeker whose efforts have been frustrated not do to secure one? The rate of aspirants who fall victim to ‘admission sellers’ has been on a sporadic increase, particularly aspirants of highly-rated institutions where competition for admission is unhealthily high. Unsuspecting students are made to believe that their Post-UTME scores could be upgraded or they could work their way to securing admission in as much as they have what it takes to make all concerned officials smile. Prompted by desire and goaded by gullibility, such students are forced to cough out tens and thousands of naira by extorting their parents or guardians or by going the hard way of crime for nonexistent admissions. THANKS TO POST-UTME!
The Post-UTME has formed a ready instrument for tertiary institutions of learning to dastardize the courage and self confidence of many young Nigerians and this, matter-of-factly, calls for the intervention of well-meaning Nigerians since the Ministry of Education has lost compass.
In conclusion, it is worthy of note that an education system that distrusts the validity of her own method of assessing the achievement of her school leavers only foregrounds her own failure. The proponents of Post-UTME often claim that it helps to verify results gotten form the SSCE owing to the fact that students might have likely indulged in examination malpractices but while the verisimilitude of this claim seems undisputable, it further unveils the truismatic negligence and incapability of such a system and as well portends eventual doom in the education sector. It therefore behoves on the Federal government to revisit the decision of reverting to Post-UTME putting all of these into consideration.