Educationist proffer alternatives for candidates finding it difficult to gain admission into the university. Read the full article as published on Punch portal below.
Waiting endlessly for the opportunity to gain admission into a university is a huge burden for me, especially when my Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination score is low,” these were the words of 19-year-old Vivian Shonibare who has been waiting for two years to gain admission into the University of Lagos.
Two years may sound few to 25-year-old Emeka Chidiebere who has been waiting for five years.
He said, “ In the last UTME I took, my score was not beyond170. The authorities of the university I applied to pegged the cut-off point at 230. I have been sitting at home for five years.”
Funke Odusanya, 17, has sat for UTME once, but she is already getting bored sitting at home. She hopes to gain admission into the Lagos State University someday.
“I took the UTME but I didn’t do well. I hope to save some more money to sit for the next UTME. Before then, I will be praying and fasting. LASU is my choice, I don’t see myself going to another university,” she said.
Over the years, the percentage of candidates that fail the UTME is alarming. In 2010, over 1.3 million candidates sat for UTME, but only 501,000 candidates scored 200 and above, leaving 59 per cent with scores less than 200. And in 2011, out of the 1,493,604 candidates that took the examination, 842,851 scored below 200 points.
The following year, in 2012, 1,503,931 candidates took the UTME, 711,250 scored below 200 points.
In 2013 a total of 1,644,110 candidates took the UTME out of which 1,629,102 applied to sit for the Paper Pencil Test, while 15,008 candidates applied for the Dual Based Test. About 571,298 scored between 170 and 199, 103,489 scored between 160 and 169 while 127,017 scored less than 159.
In the 2014 edition of the UTME taken by 1,015,504 candidates, only 24 of them scored 250 points and above; 315,401 candidates scored between 170 to 199 points, while 108,488 scored between 200 to 249 points. In the same examination, 275, 282 candidates scored below 150 points. The pass mark for university admission in 2013 and 2014 was 180 points.
In 2014, 8, 844 candidates, who scored above 200 points, sat for the University of Ibadan post-UTME, 6,267 of them scored above 50 per cent while, 2,351 failed. A total number of 226 candidates did not show up for the examination, while the lowest score was 12 per cent.
According to the statistics of the result, the most subscribed discipline in the university’s post-UTME is Medicine with 1,965 candidates. Of the number, 1,701 scored above 50 per cent.
Every year, many of those who take the UTME do not gain admission into their preferred institutions. What happens to these people?
Experts who spoke with SUNDAY PUNCH said people like Shonibare, Chidebere and Odusanya do not have to sit at home idle but should seek alternatives.
The Director, School of Professional and Legal Education, Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Prof. Gabriel Agwu said the emphasis on paper education has negatively affected students in general.
He said, “ There are many UTME candidates who have been waiting four to eight years to gain admission into a university. This is terrible and it shouldn’t be. Everyone cannot be a university graduate. There are so many ways one can explore to receive a good education.
“My advice to students is that they should quit sitting at home and gain a skill or learn a vocation. They could also look towards technical education. In Nigeria, this area of our education system has suffered. Students think technical education is for the poor, and that is a sad notion. I know of people who have become successful and didn’t go to a university.”
Gabriel also cited the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, as someone to emulate, “He dropped out of school yet he is extremely successful today. This shows that it is not a must that one must go to a university before making it in life.”
He, however, charged the media to feature people in the society who became successful through a craft. He said such approach would go a long way in encouraging students.
Sharing a similar thought, the Head, Educational Psychology, Emmanuel Alayande College of Education, Oyo State, Dr. Sola Adediran, said the current generation of youths have other opportunities at their finger tips, but very little of them make use of them.
According to Adediran, “If one can’t gain entry into a university, one can apply to a polytechnic, college of education, training college and so on. The list is endless; there are so many solutions or alternatives to this problem.”
A cloth designer, Ebun Collins, who sais she established her business at a young age, added that she learnt the skill while in the university.
She said, “Right from when I was a young girl, I loved to sew. When I got to the university, I decided to learn the skill. Today, I thank God that I’m successful and doing what I love. If I didn’t make the decision to learn how to sew, I won’t be where I am today.”
According to educationists, places in polytechnics and colleges of education are usually under-subscribed. This is because a large percentage of candidates want to go to the university.
Adediran said, “Also there are a good number of universities that are not attracting patronage and are advertising in newspapers for students to come for admission. Admission seekers could look in that direction. Even the popular universities that everyone wants to go experience insufficiency and they usually screen to pick the best candidates.
“Many candidates are chasing very few spaces in some preferred universities yet only a very small proportion of candidates who take the UTME will likely be admitted. “We all need to be self-reliant, Nigeria’s economy can sometimes not be encouraging and to be secure, one needs to have the knowledge of a vocation that will fetch one extra income,” Adediran said.
The educational psychologist also cited A-level, school of nursing, among others as good alternatives.
“There was a point in my life I was trying to gain admission into a university of my choice, but it wasn’t forthcoming. I decided to take A-level and today, I’m glad I made that choice. Every knowledge matters. What one learns today may be useful tomorrow. The bottom-line is that admission seekers should think out of the box and not be rigid. I encourage them to read newspapers. There is so much useful information in them,” he said.
Also, Dr. Suleiman Adediran, an education consultant and a former lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, urged admission seekers to remain positive, adding that feeling frustrated about admission could be detrimental to the well-being of the individual.
He said, “Sitting at home, feeling frustrated would not help one; instead one should think of ways to add value to one’s life. Learn a skill. Ladies could learn how to sew or make hair. These skills may sound unimportant, but millions of people are making money with them.”
Adediran added that getting formal education is not a guarantee that one would be successful in life. “I encourage students who have already secured admission into a university,to learn a craft. It is never a waste of time,” he said.
Aside learning a craft, Adediran also urged admission seekers to enrol for a course. He said a large percentage of these courses usually help in future.
“New educational technology has revolutionised the way students get their college degrees. Instead of waiting for years to gain admission into one a university, admission seekers could pursue online degrees. Moreover, this option gives students the opportunity to work full time. They can also customise their degree programmes to suit their needs.”
Buttressing the need for admission seekers to consider online courses, he added that besides location, time could also be a limitation to learning.
Other educationists who spoke with SUNDAY PUNCH suggested foreign education, especially for students who are financially capable.