JAMB and 120: Do we want to raise a generation of mediocres?


“It should worry us as patriots that candidates who scored just 30 per cent in the UTME can be admitted into some of our universities. Yet, we complain of poor quality of our graduates. You can hardly build something on nothing” — Sunday Saanu, Special Assistant to the vice chancellor, University of Ibadan.

When I first saw on social media that JAMB (Joint Admission Matriculation Board) had reduced the cut off marks for aspiring University students to 120marks out of 400, 110 marks for polytechnics and 100 for colleges of education, I ignored, I thought it was one of those “fake news”. The next morning, about to brush my teeth, I heard over the radio and my heart sank, my eyes filled with tears, why? To what end? Who would want to deliberately ruin Nigeria? Too many questions filtered through my mind.

Why would anyone want the quality of education reduced? Why should any student be given admission with a 30% or 25% pass mark? Are we encouraging students to get lazier? Are we interested in raising future and competent professionals? Do we want to raise a generation of imbeciles? Why are we lowering the bar?

Education is the bedrock of any developed society, the south west is usually seen as a place not averse to development, and very peaceful regardless of the diverse opinions, beliefs and culture living there, as anyone bothered to ask why? Why are Muslims, traditionalists and Christians able to live peacefully with each other unlike some other parts of the country? Answer; most of the populace are fairly educated.

At a time when some parts of the country are engulfed in a war by a mindless group whose acclaimed ideology is “Education is evil”, this lowered/removed bar on quality education, whose narrative does it suit better? Does spending millions trying to convince parents to embrace education or those who would rather want education cancelled altogether?

Some have argued that this policy is geared to favor some sections of the country. Firstly, nobody is born with the inability to learn and compete effectively, lowering the bar is encouraging, stamping mediocrity, it won’t help anyone to remain a mediocre, if anything the standard should be increased to enable students study and work harder to pass.

Will the standard of the University, polytechnic courses that these would-be students be attending reduced to accommodate them?

Some patriotic Nigerians have argued selfishly that legacy schools like YABATECH, University of Lagos, University of Ibadan etc. would not admit students on 110,120, hence they feel “unconcerned”, but the truth is, these would be “graduates” from institutions that will produce them will make “educated” decisions that will affect all of us, many will become “Engineers”, “Pharmacists”, the civil service in Nigeria will absorb a lot of them as graduates, they will implement policies that will affect everyone regardless of quality education.

Worst of it all is the cut-off for Colleges of education, at a mere 25%, what sort of teachers do we intend to raise? Teachers who can barely score 40% in their exams, what are we expecting from their would-be students that these teachers will train? Are we saying teachers are expected to be least smart in our society?

I therefore call on the President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately reverse such a backward policy aimed at promoting laziness and celebrating Mediocrity. Nigerian students are some of the brightest anywhere in the world, Nigerians excel amongst the best professionals all over the world where the standards are not compromised or “quotalised”. Mr. President, we are not dullards!

Let me end this with the last question on my mind. Will our political leaders send their kids to schools where the standard of education of 30%, 25%?

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