• Thursday, May 30, 2024
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UTME: Nigerians express concern over candidates’ poor performance

UTME 2024 breakdown: Only 27% of 1,904,189 who sat for JAMB scored above 200

The poor performance of candidates in the last Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) as reflected in the recently released result has given many Nigerians serious concern. Many Nigerians who have expressed their views have urged government at all levels to show more interest in the education development of the youth.

The Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) released the result recently, announcing that over 70 percent of those that sat the exam did not score up to 200.

Some concerned Nigerians said it mirrored the falling standard in education where even youths now say “education is a scam.”

In recent days, the announcement of the examination result by Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) had triggered a myriad of reactions from Nigerians on various platforms.

A trending hashtag garnered over 40,000 tweets last week, with discussion centered around the recurring issue of substantial failure rates observed in recent years in the examination.

Stakeholders and Nigerians have attributed various reasons for the poor performance of UTME students in this year’s examination.

Some Nigerians are of the option that the dismay performance of the students calls for national emergency and was also a wakeup call for immediate national action to save the education sector.

Others are of the opinion that the situation has exposed the country to the increasing abandonment of their primary roles by parents, drop in quality of education and government poor funding to the educational sector.

“Nigerians have such one-dimensional view of problems. 80% of students who wrote Jamb failed and you’re blaming social media and smartphones.

“Not the fact that your government budget for education is a joke, not poverty, not the UTME system, just straight to smartphones is neither the problem,” Uloma Ude, said on X.

‘Educational system is faulty’

Dideolu Adekogbe, Education Management consultant and School Growth/Improvement Strategist, blames the system for the receding performance of students in their external examinations.

She said that pupils no longer do year six. According to her, “As soon as they get to SS1, their parents would begin that they should write the West African Certificate Examination (WACE). Their parents would be pushing them to jump classes and go to the levels they are not ready for by virtue of age and maturity to assimilate more than their capacities.

“Such parents are only concern about having their children in the university at tender age of 16; they do not want to care about their maturity. We see parents do all manner of unethical things to have their children pass examinations. We have lost our values as a people,” Adekogbe said.

She also blamed the government, the inspectorate, the quality assurance departments that should enforce quality and insist that the right things are done in schools, whether public or private.

“Who do we have in those places to do all those? Things have so gone bad that those who should enforce discipline in schools- the inspectorates- go there to collect money. They go there to collect fat envelops from school owners without doing what they go there to do,” she said

Lamenting the low performance in the current UTME, Joseph Ayeni, an education expert at the Lagos State University (LASU), said that it would seem to him that there is no direction for the education being pursued in the country. He said that even the children in school do not know why they are in school.

“The British, the Chinese have their own education system and values that are being inculcated into the children as soon as they enter school. We are training children who do not think Nigeria. We give them the impression that Nigeria is a photocopy, the real life exists outside the country. We must begin to change that orientation,” Ayeni said.

He also noted that the high level of unemployment in the country was a demotivation to many youths, that they now regard education as a scam.

“We churn out so many people from the universities every year, but there is nowhere to employ them. So, when the certificates cannot guarantee food on their table, people tend to place little or no value on those certificates. For this reason, many parents want their children to rush the process and come out. We have a very good curriculum, which is very, very rich; the problem is implementation. We are just telling the pupils to cram this and cram out; pass your exam and move on.

“I must say that the real education is not a scam, but what we are churning out now is a scam. Something is re-enforcing that in the mind of many youths of today. They can’t see the future; there are no assurances that tomorrow will be better. They cannot see the future that is being referred to theirs,” he further said.

“The performance based on the statistics released by JAMB is not impressive. I think more data should be released to ascertain the root cause of the poor performance,” Charles Adewale, lecturer, department of Mass Communication, Caleb University, Lagos, told BusinessDay SUNDAY.

Adewale further said that setting a 200 general cut-off mark is not bad, because respective higher institutions will also conduct an assessment test to check the competence of the students.

“Additionally, the quality of education in many secondary schools is subpar, leaving students ill-equipped to handle the exam’s challenges.

“Furthermore, the exam’s format and content often pose difficulties for students, particularly in subjects like mathematics and science.

“For instance, it was insinuated in some quarters that a good number of the candidates were not familiar with the technology utilised for the examination, while some also attributed the nonchalant behaviour of the candidates to their studies as the principal cause of the poor performance,” Adewale said.

According to him, the high stakes attached to the exam can lead to anxiety and pressure, causing students to underperform.

Similarly, it is believed that the limited availability of admission slots also means that even students who perform reasonably well may still miss out on admission.

In a poll last week in which Nigerians were asked to mention the possible reasons for students’ poor performance in the just concluded examination, most Nigerians identified social media addiction, hunger, and laziness as contributing factors to the poor performance of students in the recently concluded UTME.

Similarly, lamenting this year’s UTME result, there were some Nigerians who attributed it to excessive social media use, lack of motivation, and even food insecurity.

Amos Ogunlewe, a public affairs analyst, said the problem with the education sector in Nigeria was multifaceted, which government is not serious about solving them.

According to him, “Many things can be the cause for the failure, but when you look around you realized that the country is troubled; parents are abandoning their responsibilities because of the hash economy.

“There is no light for the students to read when they get home, even food is difficult to get. What is federal government budget to education this year?

“The government is not serious, many schools in the rural areas don’t have common bench for students. Teachers are poorly paid. I don’t think this government is serious about doing anything in that regard,” he said.

‘Parents must change their attitude’

Another Nigerian, Dipo Awoji, stated that parents are to blame for the poor performance of students, he further lamenting the inability of most parents to supervise their children at home.

“Nigerian parents must search their conscience. What are you doing to contribute to the academic success of your children? Do you let them spend hours on TikTok and Instagram or mess around all day?” he said.

In recent years, many educationists have called for the overhauling of the education curriculum in the country to meet the reality of time.

Experts have suggested that the country should give more attention to technical education, encourage students to study there and give more funding to such institutions.

Some experts pointed out that it should not be mandatory for all students wishing to gain admission to such technical institutions to write UTME.

“I don’t believe in this current system where everyone must go through JAMB and if you fail, you are tagged a dummy, not good enough for anything. I would advise we have technical institutions for those that are interested in courses along that line. We used to have them, but I don’t know the situation now”, Uwem Mercy, an educationist said.

“You can see even the system we have now after graduation a lot of the students due to lack of job still go back to learn these things because that is what is selling in the modern world now,” Uwem further stated.

Also commenting on the situation, Kazeem Israel, Public affairs analyst said there must be efforts to make education more attractive and government should reward academic excellence across the country.

He noted that such gesture was necessary if government want to recognise education as a key driver of societal growth and progress.

According to him, “Our political class must henceforth celebrate academic excellence in showing that the government recognises education as a key driver of societal growth and progress.

“We have been fed with ugly scenes of graduates and even first-class products driving Keke NAPEP and engaging in some petty works while society and even the government celebrate mediocrity over excellence”.

Israel further warned that the current situation calls for radical action by the federal government.

“This dismal performance by a majority of candidates who wrote the 2024 UTME calls for not just sober reflection but immediate radical action from the Federal Ministry of Education,” he added.