By Odigwe Jilams
Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today – Malcolm X.
An investment in knowledge pays the best interest – Benjamin Franklin
Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school – Albert Einstein
These quotes by legendary and seasoned scholars in their various field sums the quality and importance of Education, not only in an individual’s life but also for societal development. This article is coming off on the backdrop and at the speed which the educational sector of our dear country (Nigeria) is declining, at a fast rate which could be faster than the next generation train which china is building at the moment, to cut travel time from one city to another. We appear to be racing to beat other nations to reach rock-bottom first.
On the 16th of November, 2016, The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution promoting education for democracy, while recognizing the central role of education in achieving the Sustainable Development goals. The resolution “Education for democracy” co-authored by Mongolia and 42 member states, was adopted with consensus in New York. It encourages national, regional and local education authorities to integrate education for democracy, along with civic education, human rights education and education for sustainable development into the education standards, in order to facilitate the empowerment of citizens and their participation in political life and policy-making at all levels.
This underscores the importance of Education, however it can be generally agreed that its importance has been misplaced. Much attention is drawn to the news making headlines that the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) have decided to reduce their cut-off marks from 200 out of 400 to 120. This is the worst case of reckless impunity that the educational sector of the country is being subjected to. I was talking to my Dad about his Educational experience in the past and he told me that at that time, the cut-off for Jamb was 280 for his course of study which is Law. This means one needed to have at least 70% and pray before he could be admitted. It later dropped to 200 as cut-off which is 50% and it has maintained that position until now.
It is generally accepted that the world is changing and we are in a dynamic environment and also there is the need to adjust to it, but reducing the cut-off for Jamb to 120 means that someone who scored just 30% in Jamb can be admitted into the university. There is no excuse whatsoever for the reduction of the cut-off marks and the rumors making the rounds that only 30% of the students who sat for Jamb scored above 200, this is not enough reason. This means that in the nearest future, we just might see the Jamb score reduce to 40 and people will be admitted into the University.
This decision is the latest in the strings of insulting decisions that the people who call themselves professors and who are in charge of our educational sector have heaped upon us. I am beginning to imagine how someone who gets overall 30% which is not up to average is eligible to be admitted into our Universities. Does reducing the cut-off solve the issue of decline in our educational sector? It has been generally said worldwide that Nigerians are intelligent, resourceful, and enterprising and so on. We didn’t get these attributes, or qualities by performing above average but by excellence, and even our youths who engage in various cybercrimes to defraud people would be ashamed because this new decision indirectly measures the level of intelligence of every young Nigerians. Is this the kind of future they want to leave for our children, or is it because their children(schooling abroad) are not recipient of their shambolic educational policies that is why they can wake up one morning to throw dust in my faces and say it is morning dew because they think we are not able to discern?
This is utter nonsense. They have been able to tackle exam malpractices in our schools successfully, now they are looking for a way to deliberately crash the Educational sector. Even those who depend on mercenaries to help them pass will not be bold to tell us their scores, when it is below average or say they passed except there is something seriously wrong with the person or he is mentally retarded.
The Jamb or WAEC or any SSCE exams are not the issues. The main issue is looking for a way to revitalize the whole educational sector for it to be productive, and reduction of the cut-off score is not the answer or even a part answer, rather it is a short-term plan to chaos. If we keep doing that, the whole educational sector will be in shambles and the next question will not be “what kind of graduates do we have” but “Do we have graduates or paper holders”. All this will make Education to totally lose its already diminishing value.
Making things very easy and smooth for our young ones is not ideal, but rather it will be counterproductive to our society. This is because youths who will be produced from our Universities will be so redundant that we will be ashamed of them being called a graduate of our educational system. We may be saying the obvious. This policies or decisions we make are only short term and it will come back to haunt us and funny enough, when it happens, it is those who made such decisions that will cast the first accusing finger on the graduates, alienating the fact that they played a vital, administrative and managerial role in the destruction of the educational system. As I earlier said, making things easy for them won’t help them in life. If they fail, there is nothing stopping them from trying again.
Reasoning along with one of the quotes above by Malcolm X, in which he said the future of education belongs to those who prepare for it today. The present reduction of cut of marks is not a preparation, but a disaster waiting to happen. If we pamper them, we are not helping rather we are helping to destroy the future of our generations and our society. What kind of leaders are we going to produce if they don’t learn about failure and how to deal with it? We will be laying foundation for anarchy in the future where nobody accepts failure and will do anything to succeed not minding who gets hurt in the process. Is that the kind of future, we want to live for our children? Even God will not forgive us for this grievous sin.
Ben Carson, a notable example of an Educational genius was not always good in class, but constant and persistent tutoring from a mother who couldn’t read made him the best in his class and later a world renowned surgeon. We have them so many in the country and if they have to be pushed hard for them to realize their potentials in life, then so be it, but we should never lower the standard to an embarrassing one just to favor or satisfy a few, because we will forever and ever regret it.
The management personnel in charge of the educational sector should understand this and if they really want to put an end to the rapid decline of the sector, they must come up with a foolproof plan of what to do. The citizens look up to you to lead the way and proffer suggestions where necessary, it is not up to us to tell you how to do your job, because if it was, We don’t think your nomination or appointment Would have gone through the senate but to us. You all took the various positions in the educational sector, fulfill your duty and leave a mark that will stand the test of time. Don’t succumb to political pressure because your children and our children’s future are in your hands. Save our education, save our children, save our future…. Only then can we say Education can bring about meaningful development in the society.
As Walter Cronkite once said “Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.” Therefore, we must take note of whatever decisions we take for the future of the younger generation because an ignorant nation from the above quote will be a purposeless nation.
Finally, education is the key to changing the world and so we must not be left out in possessing this inestimable gift of God to mankind because the bible even encouraged education by “studying to shew thyself approved unto God….. (2timothy 3:16)”
The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”
― T.H. White, The Once and Future King.
Odigwe Jilams from Warri, Delta State.