By Ejike Mbam

I have wallowed in stunned confusion since the news of the performance of the candidates who wrote the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations, conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) for this year (2021) was released.
I still cannot grasp by any ease what might have been the cause of the Mass failure.

To be candid, this is about the worst score recorded by JAMB in recent times. Much as I am worried, the worst hit still remains the students, many of whom have their hope of gaining admission into higher institutions this year dashed out completely. And, it is not as if there was any recent change with respect to the method of writing the exam. Like the ‘K’ in Physics, everything has remained constant for years except for the introduction of computer based test not long ago. Even at that, the new CBT system didn’t come loaded with lots of intricacies. An average teenager could easily learn computer operation basics on the spot. And, except you are a dullard and never-do-well, there is no reason for not learning the functions of click/submit; to select question and submit same at the end of the exam, which are indeed the two most noticeable functions at all exam centres.

A good percentage of the candidates on their own even engage in private computer tutorial for months before their exam day proper. So, the issue of computer illiteracy as claimed by some people is completely immaterial and a no-no.

While some guardians argued that Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board did not make its syllabus available for students early before exam, The Head, Public Affairs and Protocol of JAMB, Dr Fabian Benjamin in counter argument has attributed the failure to what he termed, ”disgruntled candidates who were ill-prepared for the examination”.

Benjamin further added that those whose illicit source of income was blocked were behind reports of Mass failure, insisting that 2021 performance was not significantly different from those of previous years. While statistics of scores by candidates are still being waited for by the public, it is glaringly clear that majority didn’t cross cutoff marks of their preferred choice of institution.

Many people, both young and old have attributed the visibly exacerbating variation in scores, evident in the performance of candidates who participated in 2021 JAMB exam as against other years, to lack of good preparation on the part of the students. Their reason majorly draws breath from the fact that most teenagers today prefer jumping processes in an attempt to get to the top without stress. Some others insisted that the system was primarily designed to fail students, seeing as government is no longer committed to providing sound education for the people.

I cannot agree more with the former while daring to differ, at least, literally with the latter submission. And, I have my reasons for disagreeing with the latter. It is the fact that the same system, accused of being intentionally designed to fail candidates, has produced and still producing world best academia, nationally. The news of such instances where Nigerians have excelled in academics abounds, the accusation notwithstanding.

On the former, I strongly believe that the students have the bulk of the blame on their desk, except I am wrong. In a heated argument with a friend online recently, I upheld that teenagers’ soaked attention to frivolities, both online and offline at the expense of studies – evident in the manner they received the news of the second coming of ‘ Big Brother Naija’, is a clear example of how unseemly the story of this generation has become. Such program, although having the potentiality of relieving many of the harsh realities of our present society, especially in the light of the chronic hardship foisted on all, has contributed to growing immorality and laziness among the youths.

The organizers of private lesson centres are not left out in this blame apportionment. Some of them in all frankness are no better than the candidates under them. They would gather candidates with their intimidating large billboards in the excuse of teaching them. At the end when it seems like they are the only hope for getting the candidates’ desired mark, they cast their mask off and begin their real business of taxation on a promise of 300 and above scores. That’s to say the least, totally outrageous.
And, I suggest they could be monitored closely from time to time by government with a view to evaluating their impacts on the candidates before the situation becomes sour.

Most teenagers, especially between sixteen to nineteen years (JAMB age) no longer take their life changing careers seriously because of unnecessary distractions. I have a first hand knowledge of this. And, being that people within this age bracket are about the most emotionally-challenged in any stage of life, there are more responsibilities, like inculcation of morality and counselling than feeding and clothing to be shouldered by parents. This crawling abnormality if not arrested early enough and on time too, can lead teenagers astray in their pursuit for a better tomorrow. The result of failure in this direction is what consequently grows into what we see in the attitude of most unprepared Nigerian youths – a life of frustration supported by idiocy.

So, instead of throwing away the baby with the bathing water by any excuse, parents should rise to their moral responsibility of guarding their children and wards well, especially at this critical time. Once you buy your child or ward an Android phone, monitor them closely to avoid getting addicted to ever growing negative media contents.

Oku nyiwaru ehu ishi (the foul has released a smelly fart).

Ejike Mbam is a Columnist, Reporter, Writer and Local Truth Gospeller!