Nigerian Universities: Setting the Right Standards for Admissions

It is no longer news that The Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examinations are no longer pointers to a true test of knowledge.

Over the years, with each decline of the standard of education in the country, that fact is proven, judging from the records on ground.

This decline cannot be dissociated from the spate of the popular ‘magic centres’ all over the country each time JAMB conducts this annual examination. These Magic Centres house hundreds of thousands of candidates that have paid through their noses in order to be given access to the answers to the questions on their question papers. Most times, their coordinators ensure that the centres are at remote villages where external invigilators might not easily be assigned to supervise these examinations. Resultantly, these pupils come out in flying colours and subsequently get admitted into their universities of choice.

It does not however remove the fact that there are pupils who burn the midnight candle in order to acquire true knowledge and make the best of their lives and future, academically.

Unfortunately, some of this crop of students do not get lucky as they often times sit for the JAMB examinations twice or thrice before finally passing the examination meritoriously or most times, out of frustration, opt for the ‘magic centres’. Either way, JAMB has a standard already set for admissions into the tertiary institutions all over the country and these standards very much determine who gets admitted into which university and who does not get admitted.

Very recently, three youngsters came out with the three best results in the 2019 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UMTE). They are 15 year old Ekene Franklyn from Abia State who scored 347 marks; Igban Emmanuel Chidiebube, aged 16, also from Abia, who came 2nd with 346 marks, while 17 year old Oluwo Isaac Olamilekan Oloyede from Osun State, clinched the third place with 345 marks.

The controversy that has rocked the education system in the past week since this announcement however is that their high scores might not be a guarantee for their admission into the university because of reasons of age. The JAMB Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyode, made that very clear at a media briefing where he told journalists that the University of Lagos had an age requirement which might make the admission of 15 year old Ekene Franklyn an impossibility.

It is expedient to note that even though the minimum age for admission in Nigerian universities is pegged at 16, it does not have any legal backing. As a matter of fact, some universities go on to admit 15 year olds just like their counterparts abroad, notwithstanding the standard already set by the Joint Matriculations Board.

The truth however needs to be told. Even though the three youngsters passed the examination in flying colours, it is important to put other factors into consideration. Is a 15 year old mentally and psychologically mature enough to cope with life inside the university walls? While trying to blame the authorities of the University of Lagos, it is a pertinent question that needs to be answered. A lot of vices that go on there like cultism and the like are bound to stare him in the face. Can he stand the pressure? Will they have the mental capacity to handle the kind of freedom that they will find behind those walls? Are they mature enough to take the right decisions when the going gets tough?

The Vice Chancellor of Gregory University, Uturu, Abia State, has instructed the university to offer scholarships to the 15 year old Ekene Franklyn and the 16 year old Igban Emmanuel Chidiebube. He saw nothing wrong in being admitted into the university at the age of 15 and disclosed that his first son was admitted into the university in the United States of America at the same age of 15.

Much as his offer is mouth-watering, the parents of those children should weigh the pros and cons of whatever decisions they intend to take because in the long run, they will be blamed by posterity if anything goes wrong. It is always important to admit children in the university at ripe ages so that they will not be swept away by the tide in the university environment when they cannot meet up with the societal requirements of the universities they are admitted into.