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Hurdles before the Nigerian youth

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Youths.<br />PHOTO: un.org

There are plenty of good reasons for a young person to enlist in the ‘army’ to fight the war in the four walls of a university.

Some of such reasons are intellectual growth, career opportunities among others. Of course, fun cannot be divorced from the excessive freedom one derived from being a student in tertiary institutions. But the danger is that most students are unable to control their feelings in the flight of fancy as they chose to gallivant on campus and refuse to be committed to the fight to acquire a sound degree. These students most often become easy prey for cult activities.

In order not to put the school in bad light and to nip the infectious lackadaisical virus-attitude in the bud before it spreads onto serious students, the institutions’ authorities usually find a way to ease such students out of the school system.

Notwithstanding the above, the hurdles and humiliation candidates undergo in pursuit of admission into Nigeria’s tertiary institutions is to say the least, incomprehensible and disheartening. “It is easier for the head of a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than (my words) for qualified candidates to gain admission into universities.”

Over the years, millions of youngsters have paid a high price in their quest for excellence and gaining admission into the nation’s tertiary institutions that can only accommodate a few thousand.

As it is often said by its officials, government is absolutely keen and serious about providing education for its young population because it sees education as a means to boost social mobility and economic growth. Good talk. It is even a globally acknowledged fact that educated people are more likely to come up with productivity –boosting innovations.

However, with all these facts about education as the engine which drives the economy of a nation, one wonders why Nigeria’s government seems to turn a blind eye and ignore the pyramid of obstacles to candidates gaining admission into the universities.

Every year, the number of candidates who apply to write the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examinations will amaze anyone who chooses to scrutinise the list. But, what will actually take one’s breath away and shock to bone marrow is the number of qualified candidates who actually passed JAMB but were denied admission. This is very sad for a country like Nigeria in this age and time.

According to this newspaper’s report, an amazing figure of, 197,050 qualified candidates were denied admission this year from only seven sampled universities. Yet, government and its officials have no tangible reason for this. Hear this wonky defence from JAMB’s image maker: “It was not within the powers of the board to determine what happens to a candidate not admitted into any institution. Besides, we don’t roll over candidates. It is the right of candidates to apply.

However, what we have succeeded in doing is to monitor admission closely, a development that has led more candidates being admitted this year.” What this, therefore, implies, is that candidates are seen by JAMB as cash machine. Therefore, they should continue to waste their parents hard earned money and of course, their precious time in burning the midnight ‘candle’ light studying for the examination.

This ugly phenomenon has forced many youngsters to deviate and indulge in criminal vices. While majority decides to study just any course in the university provided they will acquire a degree at the end of the day. This should be quickly checked because obtaining just any degree is not always the best measure of skills and knowledge acquisition needed for a job when one graduates.

In a way, degrees are now used by some employers of labour as signalling device to access a position that benefits one person at the expense of another. Yet, in most cases, the person who benefits may not be able to perform optimally in the job.

In any case, one needs not envy undergraduates because there is this ugly development they suffer regularly in the course of their studies. Across the country, students of tertiary institutions are usually unsure of their graduation date. This is because of incessant strike actions by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and its sister body the Non Academic Staff Union (NASU). At the end of the day half-baked graduates emerge to handle critical positions in the country. The big worry, therefore, is whether this phenomenon is seen by government as a national threat and a time bomb waiting to explode!

In the meantime, government and its officials should consider the danger before the country as the young population remains absent-minded and helpless due to the rules that mess up admission into the universities. Therefore, government should see reasons to expand admission capacity of existing universities and establish new ones in line with the economic, industrial and development needs of the country. This will not only cater for the teeming young population seeking admission yearly but, also, give young people hope and a sense of brighter future.

Furthermore, policymakers and indeed, government should have an open mind to critically look into these lapses. It will not only benefit all but offer efficient manpower base if government should provide young people with a wider range of options and even opportunities to be trained in vocational skills. This will tremendously help to demonstrate their employability both in the private or public sector. It is not enough to pay lip-service to the benefits derived from agriculture without empowering and making the atmosphere conducive for the young people to embrace it.

Also, it is important for government to equip the nation’s agricultural institutions and research centres in order to encourage research that will boost the economy through agriculture.

It is important to note that the Nigerian youth is tired of fighting to enter the university, tired of being denied admission having passed JAMB and can no longer endure the pains of the aftermath. A nation that systematically disallows its youth from learning or acquiring skills is a nation without a future.


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