New Telegraph

2024 UTME: Sustainable Solutions To Candidates’ Abysmal Performance

According to Malcolm X, the American civil rights advocate: “Education is our children’s passport to the future”. That refers, of course, to quality education delivery, with well-motivated and remunerated teachers, buoyed by adequate teacher to- pupil/student ratio, acting as catalysts under an enabling environment of solid infrastructure as well as fully equipped libraries and laboratories.

It becomes worrisome, however, when the performance of candidates at the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), as made public by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) for entry into tertiary institutions recurs abysmally from one academic year to another. For instance, for 2024 only 8,401 out of the 1.8 million candidates managed to score 300 and above.

Similarly, only 77,070 of them scored 250 and above. Some 439,974 scored 200 and above. In fact, a significant majority of 1,402,490 fell below the 200 benchmark. This means that over 70% of the candidates did not score up to 200. This dismal and parlous performance has generated comments from some concerned Nigerians.

Even at that, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of JAMB, Fabian Benjamin, insists that this year’s results are better than that of 2021 and 2022, reminding us that in 2013 the percentage of the candidates that scored over 200 was 10%! It is little of a wonder therefore, that some Nigerians are calling for a national emergency to be declared to save the education sector from total collapse.

But to find sustainable solutions to the critical issue a root cause analytical approach has become a necessity. The factors that have contributed to the below the- average performance of the candidates are multifaceted, beginning of course, with the parents abandoning their responsibilities to their children.

This is partly traced to the worsening, harsh economic realities on ground. Inadequate funds available to some parents lead to lateness to pay their children’s school fees. The daily hustle for survival is evident in inadequate food to eat and little time left for concerned parents to assess their children’s performance at school.

On the other hand, while some parents who are financially stable spend quality time on TikTok and playing video games with their children, others are in a hurry for their success.

They make the mistake of rushing their children, who are still in the Senior Secondary School 1 (SSS1) to sit for the UTME with the aim of getting them into the university at the tender age of 16 years. This is not good enough for the children’s mental capacity

Above all, the federal and state governments should do everything humanly possible to ensure that they prioritise quality education delivery

It is also disheartening to note that contrary to the recommendation by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) of 26% budgetary allocation to the all-important education sector, only the Chief Obafemi Awolowo-led Western Region (now defunct) has ever achieved that benchmark.

The highest under the All Progressive Congress (APC)- led government as led by President Muhammadu Buhari over his eight years in office was 8.8% in 2023 up from 7.9% in 2016. The results are telling on the students’ learning environment. For instance, there was a media report on November 18, 2019 that some pupils in Tidi and Farin Primary Schools in Shogom LGA of Gombe State were learning under trees, with only four teachers to 150 pupils!

That is contrary to the recommendation of one teacher to 13 pupils as made by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Nigeria’s average stood at 37.55 in 2010, with the highest of 40.09 back in 2007 and lowest of 32.23 in 1978.

That is what Governor Babagana Zulum has amply demonstrated in Borno State, building top-notch schools, equipped with modern learning facilities, along with good access roads in spite of the Boko Haram challenge. Others should take a cue from him. And coming back to JAMB, much more should be done than said in correcting the complaints raised by several UTME candidates.

Amongst these are malfunctioning computer sets, poor internet connection and sudden electric power outages while the examinations are on. Though the JAMB PRO, Benjamin has given assurance that the agency will address such complaints, as it carries out evaluation at the end of every exercise, we call for more proactive measures to be put in place to reduce the glitches that keep rearing their ugly head virtually on yearly basis.

Above all, the federal and state governments should do everything humanly possible to ensure that they prioritise quality education delivery, beginning with meeting the 26% allocation to the sector which lays a solid foundation for our children’s brighter future.

That is what countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom (UK), China, India, Israel, the Asian Tigers, Egypt and even the once war-torn Rwanda amongst others have done to become economically productive nations.

Now is therefore the right time to borrow fresh leaves from them; to ensure that parents, school proprietors, principals, teachers and concerned non-governmental organisations assist the younger generation of Nigerians to excel at their studies and guarantee a brighter future.

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