CASE BACKGROUND

As reported by Premium Times Nigeria, on Tuesday, June 11th, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) approved 160 as the new cut-off mark for admission into federal universities, 140 for private universities, 120 for public polytechnics, and 110 for private polytechnics and colleges of education. This is a reduction of about 20 points from the cut-off marks set for the preceding year. This week, in the courtroom, the polemists marshal their brilliant thoughts on whether or not the decision is reasonable. Relax and enjoy as they battle with wits and words, and always remember to hear the other side before you judge.

OBVIOUSLY!


In the end, it’s about the work, not an award you get for the work – Award-winning American actress, Linda Fiorentino

Of a truth, the Nigerian education system is plagued with mishaps and accommodating of many policies which bear the ranks of many unreasonable dilapidated errors However many they are, my lords, the reduction of national minimum standard score for admission into tertiary institutions is not in their club. As the African proverb goes, “if a man wants to grow a long tooth, he should have the lips to cover it.” The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board has realised that the crop of candidates passing through its formerly fierce examination are losing the wherewithal to academic excellence. Their lips are perpetually shortened, how then could they be expected to grow longer teeth?

According to the report of the 19th Stakeholders Policy Meeting on Admissions to Tertiary Institutions delivered on July 11, 2019, there has been a significant drop in the number of candidates scoring over 250 in the 2019 UTME as compared to previous years, while there has been corresponding significant improvement in the number of candidates scoring between 100 and 180. So, when the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, in its infinite wisdom, reduced the minimum required score for admissions, it was shouting “yeah” to practicability not shaking hands with mediocrity. 

If we are to probe into the hearts of the officials of JAMB and the stakeholders of tertiary institutions in order to unearth its content on this matter, all we will find lying there is a noble intention at providing opportunities to a larger percentage of Nigerian youth to obtain tertiary education. This is a reasonable development, as candidates who might not have performed so well in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination will be given a second chance to prove their real academic worth at their preferred institution’s Post-UTME and a combined result of both will determine whether they qualify for admission or not. 

The opposing counsel would be swift to argue that the aim of JAMB to provide opportunities to more students to gain admission is only an idealistic postulation that cannot stand the test of realities. My lords, we would have been slightly persuaded by his argument only if he could tell us which successful person he has known that was never given a second chance. Even this noble court, for all its infallibility, offers a right to appeal.

In conclusion, my lords, before we slam the gavel in approval of every and any criticism of actions of government and its boards, let us hold the consciousness that life itself gives everyone an opportunity to choose from three classes of results: minimum, that one must never go below; optimum, that makes one stand shoulder to shoulder with peers; and maximum, which takes one above board. Whatever later reflects on one’s life report sheet is one’s doing, for which no heaven or earth can be blamed.

NOT EVEN CLOSE!


Without standards, there can be no improvement – Taiichi Ohno

My Lords, I laughed till my intestines vibrated when I first heard that this obvious truth is slated for hearing in your honourable court. It later dawned on me that while some argue for the fun of it, others argue to while away time, and yet few others argue because they have some truths to justify to the whole world. I would rather use this opportunity to declare the truth I have to justify before your lordships, once and for all.

My lords, it is rather ridiculous that a country whose educational system is at a standstill would further take actions to clear the way for a free slide into the shambles of mediocrity. I ask: how can there be a reduction in the merit benchmark for candidates seeking admission from a manageable 200 down the hill to a meagre 160 all in the name of accommodating more students into the system? Obviously, this only confirms that we are so relaxed and nonchalant with sub-standards to the extent that we see nothing wrong with getting along with mediocrity like a gas station on fire.

We cannot deny that the tertiary institution system is a different world on its own. As such, intakes would not have to just survive but excel in all spheres, particularly academically, in order to maintain their studentship. Now, consider a situation where at the foundation prospective intakes have started demonstrating a weak capacity to get into the system and a weaker ability to even survive in it. How do we now, in the light of this, willingly remove the conditions put in place to ensure that only those who have the ability to survive in the system get in? It only shows that we are not serious about getting the wrongs right.

My lords, with this new reduction of the cut off mark, I think we have now put an end to the seasons of unceasing questions and have come to a halt of compulsory answer with what is wrong with our educational system. Without doubt, we can now tell where the captains of the ship of our educational sector are directing the state of affairs to. Indeed, they are not rowing forward, they are only endlessly steering the ship backward.

In addition, this reduction will only result in more polarisation of the admission process. Admissions would further be put on auction and only the highest bidder would be considered to bag the degree. It would be a worse replica of the animal farm. Here, some animals would not just be more equal than the others, but the mules would be the alpha of the thorough-bred.

Finally, the opposing counsel would attempt to sway us to his line of argument through his idealistic postulations which I beg to differ with. He would tell us to swallow this mediocrity in favour of an unknown good of the society or that it is a charitable attempt to accommodate more candidates into the tertiary system. However, no matter how attractive these postulations might be made to look, they really make one’s head turn considering how massively some folks distort them in their own selfish interests. We simply cannot push forward our standard of education by pulling back the merit benchmark neither can we raise the standard of education by reducing the cut-off mark. It is simply unacceptable, and to this end I urge my lords to respond with a capital NO to this shortchange of our educational sector. I rest my case!