Asks Government to Reverse the Underfunding and Privatization of Primary and Secondary Education in order to Improve Quality of Education
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) condemns the new cut off marks announced by JAMB which lowers to outrageous levels the minimum requirement for admission into universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education. We hereby demand an urgent reversal of this policy.
We wish to elucidate our opposition to this policy while responding to two arguments offered by the JAMB Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede to justify it.
According to Guardian newspaper of 25 August 2017, the JAMB Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede based his justification of this decision on the fact that “most of the institutions except a few has never filled 70 percent of their admission capacity in the last 10 years”. This if true is truly disheartening.
Every year, nearly 2 million candidates apply for admission, but less than 500, 000 are admitted leaving a huge shortfall. Before now, the popular belief was that the reason for this situation is because there are too few tertiary institutions available for the increasing number of admission seekers. The new twist added to this debate by the JAMB registrar only further underlines the monumental crises afflicting public education and the emergency the situation has already become.
As a result of the collapse of quality education at primary and secondary school levels over the years occasioned by poor funding and the emergence of private unregulated and usually below-standards private schools, the quality of candidates for admissions has progressively worsened. This is reflected in the annual average performance in qualifying examinations like WASSCE which shows that increasingly fewer numbers of products of secondary schools are able to make credits in 5 subjects. This collapse of quality education at secondary school level is no doubt the outcome of the policy of underfunding and education privatization pursued by successive governments over the last three decades which saw a boom in establishment of private schools many without any real facility nor quality teachers – a variety of which is beginning to manifest at the tertiary levels today.
But this problem will not be solved by artificially lowering the cut-off marks. By lowering the cut-off marks, JAMB is effectively preparing the ground for another crisis in the medium and long term. Moreso, if the quality of education continues to worsen as it definitely would if government fails to step in with more funding, it is only a matter of time before candidates are unable to make 120 cut-off marks. If this happens, would JAMB lower it to 50?
For us in the ERC, the proper way to rectify this kind of problem is by reversing the underfunding an privatization of primary and secondary education through government massive investment in public schools. Government must aggressively begin to rebuild decayed school infrastructures across the country, establish new schools and employ more teachers and support staff with improved remunerations. These if done with devotion, dedication and with clear intention to use public resources to meet people’s needs can reverse the rot afflicting public education within a decade.
As far as we are concerned, there is no other way to increase the quality of students and their overall performance in qualifying examinations other than by improving quality of education and infrastructures in schools. This would require that government halts its anti-poor policies of education underfunding and commercialization and immediately improve funding of education in order to address the acute shortfall in infrastructures and quality staff which is the bane of public education in the country. So long government continues to underfund public education; the quality of students will continue to worsen.
In the same vein, Leadership newspaper of August 25, 2017, the JAMB quotes the Registrar, Ishaq Oloyede, also while justifying the new cut-off marks saying that, “30 per cent of those in higher institutions do not take JAMB or have less than the cut-off marks. The admission process is now automated with direct involvement of the registrar of JAMB for final approval. “We have agreed to regularize admissions that were done under the table this year. From next year we will not accept anything like that”.
The above quote gives the impression that there is more behind the decision to lower the cut-off marks than the above-cited excuse given by the JAMB Registrar. Private tertiary institutions are the usual culprit of this kind of lawlessness because they are often undersubscribed and are always cutting corners to increase their intake. In any case, the ERC rejects this attempt to legalize illegality. We hereby demand the names of the institutions that engaged in unlawful admission of candidates to be publicly disclosed and duly penalized.
We wish to remind the JAMB Registrar that JAMB is a public institution funded by tax payers’ monies and that he was appointed to act in favour of the interests of the general public and not private interests. Therefore if some tertiary institutions admitted students “under the table” or without following laid down rules and guidelines, the least the public expects and would accept is that they are penalized and if they are private Universities, their licenses should be revoked. To then use this illegality to take a decision that could throw our education into further crisis is unacceptable.
Hassan Taiwo Soweto Ibukun Omole
National Coordinator (07033697259) National Secretary