The menace of pursuing a dream in Nigeria Tertiary Institutions
It is almost impossible to pursue and successfully nurture a dream fervently in Nigerian universities and her ill-fated educational procedures, for it is clearly understood that the best comes when passion is accompanied with the elastic limit of thrive. Henry Samueli once remarked that “Passion is what gives meaning to our lives. It’s what allows us to achieve success beyond our wildest imagination. Try to find a career path that you have a passion for.”
There is this inimitable euphoria that galvanizes the thoughts of every High school graduand in this country after dropping their pens in the golden baskets of the tumultuous stage, of course, very sanely to think that it is a step to attaining one’s career. Yes, right as it may be, but does it come easy as perceived in our faltering educational policy? Let me quickly run you through the rebelliously polity of the parasitic educational system I am talking about.
Unlike Britain, our independence colony whom we imitate most of our governing policies from, a child’s career is being nurtured from the stage of infantry with undaunted extracurricular activities to develop same, paving the way for opportunities to study courses of choice in their desired colleges without dampening those dreams with inconsequential exams that begrudge one. In Nigeria, passing the popular WAEC does not guarantee you an opportunity to the colleges but a step to experiencing one of the rots in the system. JAMB is one tarrying parasite again after successfully making the necessary credits in the required subjects of one’s choice course. Not to think of the Post UTME/JAMB introduced in late 2006 by the decision of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the former Nigerian president in one of his lectures entitled “University is not for all.” For the tertiary institutions to screen her candidates, post UTME was adopted and it birthed the major rots in the process, dreams were desecrated and same taken with levity as though, they were mere wishes by the admission management of different institutions.
According to Pius Adesanmi (of the blessed memory), an enigmatic writer and staunch critic of frivolous and hypocritical acts of Nigerian leaders, he asserts in one of his op-ed entitled “Do you know what Aluta Continua means?” that; politicians will never fund educational institutions because the funding will make it possible for them to produce educated and informed citizenries. Generation of moribund and stupid leaders, they chose the armies of hatred and division among the people for their self-perpetuation.
However, statistics have rightly proven that about 65% of first degree undergraduates across various tertiary institutions in the country are not studying their desired courses. It is really bemusing to see that many had resulted to the course they are studying because of the despoilers of their fates and for the fear of not ageing beyond the minimum age requirement for job opportunities after graduation; causing many to drastically put down their age to the point that same does not tower above the requirement when favours beckon, have you them to blame?
Like many others, life was not a bed of roses for me, especially because of the home I grew up, my parents could barely read and write but my dream of becoming a lawyer has never eluded me for once, not even at the excruciating score I had in my first JAMB attempt. There wasn’t anybody to console or put me through the process to extricate possible future woefulness. I was wholly determined to make a mark in my family by utilising my wits to accomplish my dream of becoming a barrister. I could remember vividly the constant chastises from Mathematics teacher that I leave Arts Department for Science because he wanted me to compete with my fellow colleagues like we did in junior classes but I was reticent on his decision. Law was the utmost in my mind and as we have been orientated by our then principal, that only people who are passionate about becoming lawyers should make Arts their choice of department. Hence, no regret.
In my class, over two-third of eighty-nine of us wanted to study law, with many concluding University of Lagos (UNILAG) to be their choice institution to accomplish this dream. Mine was University of Ibadan (UI), simply because of her self-acclaimed ‘first and best’ parlance. Most of us were already seeing ourselves as prospective lawyers but it actually dawn on us that it is one thing to dream and another, to fulfil it. Fast forward to seven years after our graduation, only about three of us are still pursuing the dream we all shared then, two are still in school studying the law and one is already a barrister. About me, I have abnegated myself of same after three attempts in University of Ibadan, with gut-wrenching denials at the point of Post-UTME even with clear passes. The last attempt was the most annoying, I had with determination score 278 in JAMB and 65 in Post-UTME, already basking in my dream you will conclude right? But the persons with the score of 68 were the last people selected for admission as was their tradition.
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In 2016, the Nigerian Senate passed the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB Act (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (S.B. 245) after it scaled a third reading. This bill seeks to extend the validity of the Unified Tertiary and Matriculation Examination (UTME) conducted by JAMB from one to three years. This comes after the Federal Government had cancelled the Post-UTME that was always conducted by tertiary institutions for candidates seeking admission. If the amended bill by the Senate eventually gets the assent of the President to become a law, it is capable of grounding Nigeria’s fast depreciating education having its chief highlights of the major changes to the existing JAMB Act: that the UTME result will now be valid for three years. It is currently valid for a year; if a candidate seeking admission into a tertiary institution fails to secure admission the same year he or she wrote the UTME, such person will have to write another UTME the following year to stand another chance for admission. Also, there would be amendment that will uphold and reflect the scrapping of Post-UTME. And that candidates with old UTME results will, henceforth, be given preference over new candidates in subsequent admission processes by tertiary institutions. Why then is this not emulated? Maybe it could decongest high number of applicants yearly.
It is not uncommon to say that many have thrived in the process of not given up in their dream possibly because of a reason associated to our educational system or another. They willingly embraced course given by their respective institutions, graduated and found way back to their course of dream as second degree, amongst them is Nasir el-Rufai, the incumbent Kaduna State Governor and the author of “Accidental Public Servant,” who is known for his high level of intellectualism, one of the iconoclastic leaders Nigeria is blessed with. He read Quantity Survey in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and completed a law degree in 2008 in University of London because of his unbridled passion for it. Another is Richard Mofe Damijo, an award-winning actor who studied Theatre Arts in the University of Benin and later proceeded to University of Lagos after some years for Law. Funke Akindele, the most imitable female series actress the country is proud of, she read Mass Communication in Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), Ogun State, for her OND and later proceeded to University of Lagos (UNILAG) to pursue her law career, few to mention. Unlike the aforesaid, Femi Adebayo read Law in the University of Ilorin but bagged a Masters degree in Theatre Arts as a result of his passion in acting. These are few in many of the passions that have also been accomplished despite the uncatholic motifs and intentions of our educational system or admission management in our tertiary institutions.
Now that JAMB is fast approaching, it is not impossible to see that some dreams will be shattered as usual, at the commencement of post UTME too, dreams will decrepit and ‘ill-will’ will embrace people like an affianced wife, many will feel fetishized because it would be another wasted year of opportunity. Some will even brood over it to the extent of committing suicide. Will that avert the occurrence? No! Maybe. Accept the fate, start working on another opportunity, accept the course that you are given, there are opportunities of pursuing dreams to the letter. The system no matter how challenging it is, should not be a constraint.
Sulaimon Adekunle A. is a member, National Youth Service Corps, Ibadan, Oyo State. He writes via firstname.lastname@example.org