How to reinvent Nigeria’s educational system – Professor of Law, Udombana

Mr. Udombana also decried the adoption of criteria like educationally disadvantage states, federal character principle and catchment areas for admission of candidates to tertiary institutions.


A professor of International Law, Nsongurua Udombana, has called on the Nigerian government to halt the policy which allowed admission requirements to be lowered for prospective university students in the country.

During the last two decades, he said admissions to institutions of higher learning in Nigeria have been skewed to accommodate candidates whose performances fall below the mark.

Mr. Udombana, a former dean of law at the University of Uyo, said these during an interview with PREMIUM TIMES in Abuja.

He decried the situation where admission into tertiary institutions was everything but merit-based, saying that the policy has had serious consequences on the quality of the nation’s graduates.

He said, “The fallen standard of education is not a function of the university per se but a function of the faulty admission policy the country has operated for a long time now. You cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stay.

“For instance, the admission policy during the past two decades has not been merit-based. Under the current policy as coordinated by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, admission on merit is only 45 percent of the totality of admission into any faculty.

“This means that if a department is to admit, for instance a hundred students, only 45 will be admitted on the basis of hierarchical score from the UME and Post UME examinations.”

Mr. Udombana also decried the adoption of criteria like educationally disadvantage states, federal character principle and catchment areas for admission of candidates to tertiary institutions.

“The introduction of such admission criteria has encouraged mediocrity and right from day one; students who are admitted through such policy are defective and can hardly cope with the demands of the learning.

“I have been marking scripts in which I get alarmed and ashamed at what our undergraduate write during examinations. Some of them cannot construct a correct sentence that conveys meaning,” he said.

Mr. Udombana, however, called for the convocation of a national summit on education; where stakeholders would be brought together to identify the problems, design solutions and chart the way forward.

While commending the organizers of the 2014 Nigerian Economic Summit which focused on education, he, however, argued that the summit did not address the core problems of the sector.

According to him, majority of Nigerians who are interested in the development of the country’s educational sector where not invited to the summit.

“That summit did not represent the totality of the stakeholders in the Nigerian educational sector. Having an episodic discussion will not solve the problem. We need a root and branch summit that will discuss every matter pertaining to education.

“We also need proper funding of education whether it is privately operated or operated by the government. UNESCO has provided a benchmark of not less than 26 percent of the national budget for education.

“We cry foul whenever we hear about 26 percent but we forget that education is an investment. It is not a liability or recurrent expenditure. While the benefits may not be realised in the short and medium terms, it pays off in the long run.

“China is taking over the world now. Chinese are seen all over the world doing great things. That is so because the Chinese Government over a long period of time has been investing massively in education and scientific development.

“The same goes for Singapore, Malaysia and India that are making meaningful development scientifically and technologically.”

While the country may not achieve the UNESCO budgetary benchmark at once, he argued that Nigeria can progressively move towards it year-after-year.

This post is supported by the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme, funded by DFID and managed by a consortium led by the British Council

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