The first time I heard about the best ten candidates in the 2020 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), aka JAMB, I was able to learn their various states of origin and their courses of choice. When I noticed that the first two candidates are from my state, I searched to see the schools that produced these wonders. I was hoping to see that they were students of one of the good schools in Anambra State, but alas, I found out much later that Maduafokwa Egoagwuagwu Agnes, the overall best candidate, schooled in Ogun State. The question I asked myself then was, “Why then should Anambra State take the glory while Ogun State did the job?”
This is not a case of being biased, but rather that of pointing out errors in our system. You can imagine suffering to raise a child from infancy only for her mother to come around when that child is an adult to claim her and then take all the glory that comes with the child’s achievements. Yes, I know a mother is irreplaceable, but the woman that raised that child should also be acknowledged at every point of the child’s life and success. Hence, there’s a need to acknowledge the players in these candidates’ success.
The State in which a person lives and schools matters a lot in the person’s academic performance. We know that some states in the federation pay much attention to education than other states do. Some of these states go as far as developing curriculum that ensures that children’s education is productive. They supervise teachers in public schools and ensure that private schools do the right thing. By the end of the day, the students they produce are adopted by other states because of the fallacious state of origin. All I am trying to say here is that candidates’ places of residence should be considered by JAMB as well. States of origin should only be an alternative for data purposes.
I know that the major reason why JAMB does not acknowledge states of residence (except when posting students to exam centres) is because of the modalities of admissions into higher institutions, where 45% is reserved for candidates coming in on merit basis, 35% for catchment areas and 20% for the 23 academically “disadvantaged states”. This means that someone that lives in Kaduna but is a native of Ibadan, may not be admitted into ABU, Zaria, unless he could compete for the 45% reserved for merit. If not, he has to go back to his state of origin, or to any other school close to Oyo State to seek admission. Yet, we shout “One Nigeria”.
The issue of catchment areas should not apply to states of origin, but rather to states of residence. Someone that spent all his life in Lagos may be denied admission into Unilag because he is Hausa. This is just unfair. We practice legal tribalism in all corners and we think Nigeria will be united.
As we demand that JAMB should acknowledge states of residence of its candidates (or even replace “States of Origin” with “States of Residence”), we should also ask them to acknowledge schools that trained their candidates. As far as I know, every child that is mentally balanced is intelligent. That A performed better than B could be because the teaching methods and level of exposure A enjoyed was denied B. Hence, even the best brain may still not shine if certain people did not make efforts to polish it. WAEC understood this and therefore published the best candidates’ names alongside the names of their schools.
Demanding that JAMB publishes names of schools of their best candidates is not being petty. When someone does well, the person should be rewarded. Maduafokwa did not make 365 in JAMB because she studied more than other candidates. It is obvious that her school gave her the opportunity she needed to shine. For instance, I learnt that she belonged to her school’s Mathematics Club and was once one of its executives. Belonging to this club gave her the leverage of scoring 99% in Maths in UTME. Maybe she wouldn’t have been able to make that if her school didn’t expose her to that. It is high time schools and teachers are appreciated for the jobs they do.