2024 UTME results and matters arising

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Reactions have continued to trail the recent release of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination results for university hopefuls by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board. According to Ishaq Oloyede, JAMB’s Registrar, over 1.94 million candidates registered and sat for the examination in 118 towns and over 700 centres across the nation; significantly higher than the 1,595,779 candidates who registered for the 2023 edition.

“The examination, which began on Friday, April 19, ended on Monday, April 29. Out of the 1,989,668 registered candidates, 80,810 were absent. A total of 1,904,189 sat for the UTME within the six days of the examination. Out of the 1,842,464 released results, a paltry 0.4 per cent scored above 300 while 24 per cent scored 50 per cent (200/400) and above,” the JAMB Registrar said.

He also mentioned that 1,402,490 (76 percent of the candidates) scored below 200. The performances of the candidates are undoubtedly below par, and many Nigerians are understandably disappointed and baffled.

On various social media platforms, many people have attributed the record-breaking disastrous performance to the proliferation of social media platforms. To these people, students no longer have time for their books due to the distraction of TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and X.

There is also the matter of a consistently decreasing attention span, with scientists discovering that the attention span of the average Gen Z youth is similar to that of a goldfish. Basically, most of the youths who sat for the 2024 UTME are more concerned about social media than studying hard to make something of their lives or contribute meaningfully to society.

Others attribute the root cause of this year’s poor performance to the poor quality of education, especially in public schools nationwide.

It is widely agreed that only a handful of public secondary schools in Nigeria can claim to be up to the highest standards of education in this day and age. The majority of these schools have become moribund spaces where students not only regress mentally but begin developing negative attitudes and behaviours through drug abuse, cultism, online prostitution, internet fraud and of course, social media addiction.

All of these and more have consequently convinced many parents that their wards are better off being in private schools, even if this means that they might have to pay exorbitant fees.

The Registrar also stated that during an inspection of the examination proceedings, a father was caught impersonating his son and that both of them were promptly detained for legal prosecution.

“We have a case of a father impersonating his son, writing an examination for the son and I wonder, are you not destroying your son’s future? Of course, the two of them are now in custody. I can’t understand what the father will now tell his son when they are both locked up in the same cell. This definitely happened not in Kaduna, but I don’t want to disclose the state,” a distressed Oloyede said.

“Basically, most of the youths who sat for the 2024 UTME are more concerned about social media than studying hard to make something of their lives or contribute meaningfully to society”

The father’s conduct shows how deep immorality has eaten into the moral fabric of our society. Nigeria is notoriously an “anything goes” society, where illegality is permissible, even encouraged so long as money is involved. As such, it does not come off as much of a surprise that parents who are supposed to be their children’s moral guardians are even engaging in unethical acts which undermine the integrity of our educational system.

There are several instances where parents take their children to so-called ‘miracle centres’ or hire individuals to write exams for them. One doesn’t need a prophet or soothsayer to see just how much this rate of illegality contributes to the intellectual rot and academic decline of students and youths.

The erroneous belief that “school na scam” is another factor why most students barely bother to read. After all, they have ways to navigate past the rules of education encouraging merit and excellence. After all, social media offers many glamorous opportunities for fame, wealth and social respect; thanks to examples set by influencers, entertainers, fraudsters and moral degenerates.

Nowadays, it is hard for an impressionable Gen Z to understand that academics can be a pathway to a stable career.

When parents who are supposed to be the moral watchdog for their children engage in unethical practices like aiding exam malpractice, it paints a bleak picture of a society where “the fish rots from the head down.”

The situation even becomes comical when you consider the fact that some parents would rather send their young children (mostly males) to learn internet fraud and gain illegitimate wealth, rather than ensure that they get the best education and live by the highest ethical standards.

In other words, we are doomed as a nation and society if we cannot initiate drastic measures to stem the tide of immorality now threatening to undermine the future of these younger ones.

Despite the score of woeful performances in the 2024 UTME, a student from a public school in Kwara State scored above 300. Olukayode Olusola’s outstanding performance in the 2024 UTME is proof that all hope is not lost in public schools. His academic achievement serves as a flicker of hope and inspiration, especially at a time when confidence in government schools has waned. Such remarkable success from a public school student should undoubtedly ignite a much-needed revolution in the education sector.

Another sterling progress from the 2024 UTME is the increase in the number of females that applied this year than in previous years.

According to the JAMB Registrar, 982,393 males, representing 49.4 per cent, enrolled for the 2024 UTME, as against 1,007,275 females, which is 50.6 per cent. This is a huge boost for the girl-child education in our country.

I am glad that parents are beginning to see the importance of educating their girl-child. There’s a widely-known saying attributed to the Ghanaian scholar, Dr James Kwegiyr-Aggrey, which states, “If you educate a man, you educate an individual. If you educate a woman, you educate a nation.”

That being said, the 2024 UTME should serve as a wake-up call for all of us. Parents need to wake up to their duties as the primary guardians and educators of their children. The shameless conduct of the father caught impersonating his son is a moral indictment on parenthood, even though it does not capture the general approach to parenting here.

There is also a need for us to revive our public schools so that they can compete and be at par with their counterparts abroad.

I recently learnt that in some cases, public schools in the United States and other developed countries are far better than their private schools. On that note, let us invest in our public institutions for the betterment of the average citizen. By doing so, confidence will be restored in our public institutions and our youth will be assured of a better future.

.Isah can be reached at lawcadet1@gmail.com