• Monday, June 17, 2024
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Major events that shaped education in 2021

What has age got to do with tertiary education admission?-

The Nigerian education sector was among the other sectors adversely affected by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lockdown measures to curb the spread of the virus led to school closures, poor learning, unequal access to education opportunities, poor skills, salary cuts, and loss of jobs for teachers, and parents’ inability to pay school fees was a loss to school owners, leading to debts.

The sector had been recording negative growth for the past four quarters till it expanded by 0.63 percent in Q2 ‘2021 from -24.12 percent in Q2 ‘2020.

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 lockdown, the education sector was glad to open its gate for academic activities in 2021, especially at the tertiary level.

However, the joy was short-lived as the sector witnessed a major setback by the consistent Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike. The insistent ASUU strike kept the education system on life support for the most part of the year.

The effects of the long-term strike action on Nigerian students and the education sector at large cannot be overemphasized. This ugly development led to the disruption of all public universities’ academic calendars and the inability to cover course outlines before examinations.

Many public universities were faced with a backlog of admission challenges and studies were rushed to pave way for new intakes.

Coupled with the new Delta variant of the coronavirus, the academic calendar relied more on virtual learning approaches to survive. This on its own was not the best as most of the students and institutions alike do not have what it takes to run ditch-free online learning in Nigeria.

However, the education sector was saved from crumbling when Ish-aq Oloyede, the registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), completed his first tenure of four years in office in August and was not willing to continue. There was tension everywhere, stakeholders and shareholders in the sector were worried, not knowing what was going to happen.

Calls from many quarters were raised to the president to save the sector by reinstalling the former registrar. The Muhammadu Buhari-led administration took a prompt and prudent decision to give Oloyede the second tenure chance and this in no little way saved the sector.

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Buhari’s reappointment of Oloyede as the registrar of JAMB for a second term in office was a decision that helped position the board and the education for the good.

Just a few months in office, precisely in November, JAMB remitted N3.51 billion to the national treasury as part of its 2021 operating surplus. The remittance was in line with the registrar’s avowed commitment to prudent management of public resources.

JAMB also detected 706,189 illegal admissions by universities, colleges of education, polytechnics, and other tertiary institutions.

The registrar explained that the illegality was perpetrated in all the six geopolitical zones by public and private higher institutions.

From the report from the board about 114 universities were responsible for 67.795 of the illegal admissions, 137 polytechnics were responsible for 489,918, while 80 colleges of education were responsible for 142, 818 and 37 other institutions involved in 5,678 cases.

Oloyede disclosed in a statement at the Consultative Sensitisation meeting with select stakeholders that the illegal admissions had damaged the image of the country.

Besides, another prudent decision taken in 2021 that salvaged the education sector in Nigerians was passing the law scrapping the HND/BSc dichotomy by the national assembly.

The federal government through the national assembly took a very prudent decision in scrapping the HND/BSc dichotomy. Although the Nigerian government is committed to removing the dichotomy between BSc and HND holders, the dichotomy will remain until an ongoing review of the scheme of service is completed.

The death of 12-year-old Sylvester Oromoni, a student of Dowen College, Lekki in Lagos State was another ugly incident that engulfed the education sector in 2021. The victim was alleged to have been tortured and beaten by some other students for refusing to join a cult group. This spurred a national reaction and condemnation which led to the arrest of some of the alleged suspects and tentative closure of the school by the Lagos State government.

The National Universities Commission (NUC), came out with the ranking of universities in Nigeria. The ranking pegged the University of Ibadan ahead of others with the other five private universities on the top ten lists. The ranking which was carried out using 12 indicators involved 113 universities across the nation.

Close to this is the prudent decision of ASUU to stave off another strike by intervening in the refusal of the federal government to honour its agreement with the union. Should ASUU have gone on strike again, especially at this time of the county’s tertiary institutions’ calendar, Nigeria would have suffered much more intellectual and economic hemorrhage.