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Hiya! Just a quick intro :) I lived in Nigeria for more than half of my life (so far) before moving to England and I have seen the best and the worst of both worlds. I was greatly inspired by the #OccupyNigeria protests and this blog is my way of #occupying. A lot of us compare African countries to the Western countries and I will mainly be talking about the positive things that I have observed and learnt in my few years of living here. Payme’s 2Cents is for all who dare to dream to see changes in their lifetime. It is for those who dream to see environments where 'helping' thrives. I will be giving my2cents worth on how we can work towards getting things to change for better. It would be great to know your opinions, so please leave comments. Remember to keep sharing posts that you enjoy. Follow @payme_my2cents. Thanks a lot for visiting!!! Enjoy my2cents :).

Friday, 23 March 2012

Our Educational Abyss 1

"The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next." Abraham Lincoln.

Students hoping for places in Nigeria’s universities would be sitting their UNIFIED TERTIARY MARTICULATION EXAMINATION (UTME) tomorrow. Best wishes guys!
This got me thinking about the education I left in Nigeria. I could not help but remember the imbalance in the standards of education in different schools, both public and private. I grew up in Ife and there were some public schools that were deemed ok as well as some private ones that were labelled ‘really good’.  University education follows right after secondary school.  The common belief is that students who are in Colleges of Education and Polytechnics are there because they failed JAMB (UTME is organised by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board so the exam is commonly called JAMB).
Somehow, with all the massive differences in the standards of education in Nigeria’s primary and secondary schools, students are expected to sit for the same exam (JAMB) in order to have access to higher education (I know that there are now Post UTME exams as well). There is also talk about the standard of education in Nigeria being lower in some regions compared to others and the Northern region is said to have the lowest.
I would like to know what all the many educational boards in Nigeria are doing. Most students do not pass JAMB the first time and a lot end up taking JAMB or Pre-degree lessons. The ones that have gained admissions the first time either put in a hell of extra-curricular work or had really good Expo or knew someone in the university that facilitated their admission. Why is it that there is no standard educational bridge between secondary school and university?
This brings me to the curriculum. Are there centralised curriculums for taught subjects with set rules on how teachers should follow them or do teachers just make up these things? I can hardly remember any of my teachers finishing their syllabuses (I do not like syllabi lol) on time. In my secondary school, I was in school on a lot of Saturdays to attend classes that were held in order to cover all the topics in the teachers' mysterious ‘lesson notes’. Even with all these ‘classes’, most of which were more than two hours, we knew enough for WAEC and NECO but definitely not for JAMB (WAEC and NECO are examinations held at the end of secondary education).
How can this issue be resolved? Do you think syllabuses should be centralised? Should secondary schools be forced to make sure that their curriculums include topics that are considered ‘JAMB standard’? Do education boards need to do more to veto schools that routinely churn out unprepared students? Is it right for schools in particular regions to have lower thresholds? Should programmes like A-levels and Pre-degree be made compulsory for students in order to bridge the gap between secondary schools and higher institutions?
 A lot of ‘developed’ countries actively promote bridging. This way, students would not have to fail JAMB or other exams before seeking for help, the help would have been part of their learning from the start. It would also be helpful to remove the ‘JAMB failure’ stigma attached to students who are in higher education but not in the university (polytechnic and college students).  This is one of the reasons why it is hard for graduates from varying institutions to find employment.
Each year millions sit for JAMB but hundreds of thousands will retake the examination the following year; each year, thousands become frustrated at having failed the exam yet again and opt for different forms of higher education; each year people in particular regions complain of not getting places while their fellow students with much lower marks got admissions in other regions. A lot of scenarios play out each year. When would the charade stop?

I am obviously talking from my personal experience. Share yours in the comments section please.


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ikeabbah Emeka said...

For me the reducing educational standards can be attributed to the society in general. Our society only respect d rich no matter how he/she made money. If you see all this while growing up, why would you want to 'waste' ur time studying? Many students go to a university not to acquire knowledge but just to get a degree not matter how it is gotten.once you get d degree and know someone you get a job!!

Ima said...

This acticle is really true. I schooled and is still schooling in Nigeria so I don't even need 2 b told ow the educational sector is like. I've got experiences in what gaining admission into universities in Nigeria is like. The best you can have in Nigeria is to know someone or people in high places.Because I've seen situations where a student got far lesser than the cut off point but still got admission into one of the prestigious course(law). To be concise, all I'm trying to say is that if there is any sector that is really fucked up, it is the education and she needs immediate redemption. And it rily hurts cos the government isn't seeing all these or probably they are seeing them buh they close their eyes.I'm always really happy when u discuss d sensitive issues that are eating deep down into our country. Thanks

Kunle said...

If only government can declare state of emergency on our education and take positive measures I believe things can change for good.Thanks for your write up.@lenzy_1

Toni said...

Good education is required for the proper growth &development of any nation, no doubt but I think most Nigerians attach too much importance to qualifications/our under-developed educational system. Government needs to develop the sector more and the people need to change their way of thinking.

OLA Joseph Kolawole said...

Hmmm. Mine was not much of an experience... or so I tot until recently when I saw one of my course notes in Uni again and I was almost feeling like I'd NEVER been taught those things. See, the in-balance is not only in d primary and secondary schools but also in d "methodology" of teaching even in the higher institutions. We read to pass...and...(most times) forget! :-)
I passed UME in 2005 at one sitting but I didnt "pass enuf" to study my "desired" course--"my parents'", actually. But I can very well relate wt the imbalance.

Way forward? Let all the educational policy makers in Nigeria come together...to see a movie: THE THREE IDIOTS:-)

Idris said...

The Nigeria educational system goes a long way yet to be reformed. I'm in utmost support of the bridging of a thing. It will provide an insight into what the student is to expect in the next level. But i would really appreciate if the educational body introduces atleast one other body like JAMB to open more opportunities for intending undergraduates. And also the proposed chosen university to widen her addmission width to admit more students.

webround said...

I attended a Federal Government College. As far I can tell, all FGC's had a centralized syllabus. In addition, JAMB also published a syllabus each year . My teachers tried to make sure that they covered the syllabus for JAMB and WAEC in our final year. Some teachers tried to find a balance between making sure they covered all the topics in the JAMB syllabus and the normal syllabus for the school. Attending extra lessons in preparation for standardized tests is not anything new. It is also common here in the US.

Secondly, here in the US, people who don't do well in standardized tests or who are not able to get into their choice of colleges also go to other schools. In Naija some folks end up in a polytechnic and then transfer to a university in the second year. Same thing in the US. Some people go to a community college or another school and then transfer to a college later.

Payme said...

Now you're making me wish I went to FGC lol (OIS was pretty cool too lol). Like I said, schools are of different standards.Extra lessons are not common in England, well personally I don't remember going to any. Modules are set out by the start of the year and timetables are scheduled to fit them all in. It is true that not everybody will go to the university even when conditions are perfect, what I'm advocating for is a more balanced chance for each student. In England, people opt for diplomas instead of university education as well.

Seye (@oscarpoems) said...

Education as a right is in the 60s, now it is a privilege. Many struggle to finish high school and are then priced out of the so-called government owned institutions whose recent trend is arbitrary price increase. I never passed UME, i did it twice but had to follow an alternative route (pre-degree) into the university. I know of a neighbour who stayed 8 years trying to pass UME and study her 'dream' course but ended up settling for something less. My younger bro just gained admission and despite scoring high in both the UTME and the post-UTME, he was admitted on the supplementary list. The ones saddled with the responsibility of our education make it look like a luxury when they offer students admission. Quite a lot of issues with our acada o. We have sacrificed merit on the altar of less important things like 'catchment area' and 'man know man'. If the minor things do not give way, the progressive decline shall continue