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Dreams tortured by policy

By Matthew Agboma Ozah
06 October 2021   |   2:46 am
A wise proverb suggests not putting all your eggs in one basket. Apparently, when you measure the above proverb with the recent decision taken by our policy-makers

A wise proverb suggests not putting all your eggs in one basket.

Apparently, when you measure the above proverb with the recent decision taken by our policy-makers, it reveals that they are not so imaginative or concerned about Nigeria’s youth aspirations to achieve academic success early.

This is why many Nigerians have lost and are losing faith in themselves and their institutions because of certain overzealous policies or innovations. 

Take for instance, when we talk about education, it is hard to place age or any ceiling for that matter as a barrier to acquire it. Aside from the debacle and ugly rhetoric about education in Nigeria, it remains the world’s most valuable asset with a market value depending on how the individual can defend or use it (education) to make ends meet. However, something seems to go very wrong with policy makers’ decisions concerning education in this part of the globe. Many a time without a second thought on how decisions may affect the people or the progress of the country, policymakers are quick to believe that human progress is brought about by dishing out anti-progress laws.

In recent times, there has been a season of unpleasant surprises in the education sector, from strike actions to questionable policy decisions that readily attracts anti-education status before the eyes of the public court. Therefore, those who have enjoyed the privilege of writing external examinations to gain admission into tertiary institutions before the required period to leave secondary school should extend their thanks to limitless boundaries. It was only recently, the federal government realised that certain elements among the Senior Secondary School pupils of (SS1) and (SS2) had cornered and taken advantage of the external examinations to cause mischief while writing such examinations. Consequently, if the federal government succeeds in its wisdom to stop aspiring students in SS1 and SS2 from writing external examinations, the decision will prove to have been decisively disastrous in ending hopes of brilliant students and Nigeria’s youth in general who chose to set forth at dawn in their academic pursuit.
The other day, the federal ministry of education, through Binta Abdulkadir, a director in charge of secondary education issued a circular that barred students in Senior Secondary School 1 and 2 from sitting for the General West African School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), the National Examination Council (NECO) and the National Business and Technical Examination (NBTE) respectively. What this implies is that, as an ambitious brilliant student, you cannot showcase your academic prowess in any external examination bodies here in Nigeria before your graduation from secondary school. That is less a punishment just in case a student thinks he or she is smart enough to hide under any cover and write the examination, the system will fish out the individual(s) and be expelled from the school. According to the education ministry’s findings, most students who enroll in these examinations find it difficult to settle down on serious studies and thereby become unruly and distract other students from achieving their goals. What an excuse of the century!

Many problems confronting the education sector are calling for attention. It would seem out of place to halt the academic pursuit of youngsters with such a policy fiat. No place in the world would such sadistic policy flourish without a protest than in Nigeria. It is hard to imagine how Nigeria’s education standard could sink any lower with such authoritative policy command. 

At the moment, privileged Nigerians avoid sending their children to public schools because of their poor standards. Surely, the SS1 and SS2 ban would give moneybags an avenue to send their wards abroad to school. It is not an overstatement to say that most of the policymakers benefited from writing external examinations before the due date while in secondary schools. Wait a minute, did Nnamdi Azikiwe during his prime not challenge himself to write examinations beyond his academic level? Why should a few cases of misbehavior be used to punish a generation of aspiring young people? It is important to note that education issues should not be treated as a short fuse matter knowing that it remains a truth universally acknowledged that education is the key to unlock the future. This reveals why some countries leap forward while others stall because of the quality of education received by the citizens and its leaders.
For instance, why did Malaysia achieve developed world status while Nigeria, which back in the 1970s was the richer economy, now languishes in the lower league? Or why did the Nigerian economy go gangbusters in the 1960s and 1970s but then stall for the following decades? These questions matter a lot because there is no better way of improving lives than allowing the younger generations to flourish academically irrespective of their age.

Of course, the government seems to have expected that the use of draconian laws to arrest unruly behavior at examination centres would cease the unruly behavior at examination centres. Indeed, the most terrifying aspect of Nigeria’s education phenomenon is not the SS1 and SS2 ban but the revelation that standards have been and still are poor. If you did not envisage that, then you were not paying attention to the paucity of funds in the education sector. Therefore, stakeholders and parents ought to view with profound alarm and great apprehension the recent policy taken in the education sector. Obviously, a serious student does not require public presentation to know that the poor economy offers him or her challenges to be extra studious to achieve academic success in a clear shorter term. Of course, there are many other areas in society where a ban can be made to provide a much better life for the people in future. Therefore, Nigeria’s senior secondary school (SS1 and SS2) pupils do not deserve any ban in their pursuit for educational fortune knowing that their enthusiasm to explore is endless.


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