Education quota system: a curse or blessing?

The more one pays attention to different aspects of our society, the more it seems something fundamental is very wrong, but the will to deal with it from the roots is really not there.

Unity School common entrance results is always on the news, this is because of the high disparities in the cut-off marks across our regions.

Established in 1966 in three regions as a vehicle to foster appreciation for education in our regions. Over forty years later, we now have 104 Unity Schools across the country and a quota system. Quota system was introduced to make sure all of our regions are represented in these schools.

Here is how it works – All aspiring students sit the same exam, however depending on state of origin, chances of getting entry to any of the available 104 schools differ greatly.

For example in 2013, state with highest cut off marks out of 200 in the south is 139 Anambra, lowest is Bayelsa 72. In the north, state with highest cut off marks to get to this popular school is Niger 93 while the state with lowest cut off marks is 2 for both Yobe and Zamfara.

What this means is that a candidate with 2 out of 200 from either Yobe or Zamfara has higher chance of gaining admission to any of the schools than a child with 138 from Anambra.

More confusing is that within one region, different cut-off marks is assigned, for example, Osun State is 127 while Ekiti 119 – Really? I thought traditionally, Ekiti are supposed to be quite enlightened and even in the past produced quite a few notable academics.

So from the time of yore, there is this notion that the north is disproportionately represented when it comes to education so the best way to make this even is to just allow folks gain academic qualifications they didn’t work for and perhaps have no interest in with lower marks than their southern counterparts?

Early this year when most secondary school students were preparing for final exams, my niece who is doing her NYSC service had 30 in two classes of final year students preparing for WAEC.

About a month to the exam, her class size had grown to 4x of what she started with as her school is a Special Centre. Special Centre is common knowledge in Nigeria as schools where exam cheating is not only allowed but expected, candidates pay extra for this.

She teaches chemistry in a Plateau school. Niece was frustrated after the first continuous assessment she conducted as more than half of the class failed, significant number of the students had a half out of ten. The highest mark was 7 out of ten earned by one person.

The day after chemistry theory exam, she had tongue lashing from a few girls with one of them saying “Aunty God will judge you” – they were very upset she was not at the exam hall to help. Some of her colleagues get paid extra for this purpose and no secret about it.

Why are these students allowed to write exams they clearly had no chance of passing?

Quota system is damaging to our education system. It is shamefully flawed and can only further extend the gaps it intends to close.

A better approach would be to give all children equal access to education and in turn merit based admission

Categories: Education, Nigeria

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7 replies

  1. The sort of things we do to supposedly keep this country ‘one’ are mind bugging, aren’t they?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t understand the system. Why are the cut off marks lower for the North? Do children in the North have to face more adversaries than children in the South? And if so, why is that?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The official term used was ‘disadvantaged’ to justify this quota. Nothing to do with physical or mental disabilities.

      Adversaries – generally rate of Nigerians living in abject poverty is higher in the north

      Why – traditionally, attitude towards western education is contempt. This is not true for everyone but significant number of kids were prevented from going to school. This has lead to surge in population

      Here’s where quota system crept in…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nigeria would do well to learn lessons from Singapore – this is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society, where all are encouraged to send their children to school, and meritocracy is duly rewarded, none of this race/ethnic based clap-trap that Nigerians are so fond of resorting to.
    The other point is Germany, there are streams for academic and vocational education, so if you fail at academic studies you’re not doomed to be running along the street hawking all sorts of “odds and ends”, people should be equipped with useful skills that will allow them to prosper.
    I don’t see how those students could tarnish the name of God, by associating him with compromised standards by turning a blind eye to cheating. Corruption and cheating in the long run will not serve you well, that is basic lesson that should be learned at home. What sort of generation are parents raising?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Actually, I think enough interested people from all the regions are capable to meet the set criteria, the fear is in the head of exam committee who have got to their positions by achieving the nearest minimum and now too naive thing differently.

      Well, they not only turn blind eye, they encouraged it by setting the quota.


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