By J.P. Owoupele
IN the last few weeks I have been called by many stakeholders, delegates and beneficiaries of the aforementioned programme. Their worry is that the office demands that all students must write JAMB or pass through a test to be deployed to higher institutions of learning.
History: When the programme started the managers of the programme were careful to note that our school system is infested with a pandemic called strike. This unhealthy occurrence made it sometimes impossible or frustrating for students to graduate within the time allocated for each programme.
The result was that some undergraduates ended up spending many years beyond their programme duration in school. Now, given the nature of the programme where time is of essence and used in budgetary provisions, a need arose to get it absolutely right.
This development made the office resolve to send delegates to only private institutions. This in their considered opinion would enable them graduate within the specified duration of the particular courses and align with budgetary provisions.
However, given the fact that these students will be embarking on serious academic exercises there was the need to understand and evaluate their academic competence and capabilities.
Premised on the foregoing, the office had to look beyond their statutory qualification for graduate studies that allows them to gain admission to any institution but to also put them to test in achieving the above mentioned. Consequently educational consultancies were engaged to give them aptitude tests.
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Benchmarks were set and upon fulfilling these conditions they were certified and sent to various private institutions to study.
Along the way, the Presidential Amnesty Programme office had to accommodate delegates into government-owned institutions upon pressures from others who out of their volition opted to write JAMB and gain admission. The office simply verified the status of the student and took over sponsorship. This was how the public schools came into the programme.
Later developments: However I am told that long after Kingsley Kuku’s tenure some unscrupulous elements within the office connived with certain institutions and deployed students without any of the above mentioned preconditions. A development that is not only unsavory but inimical to their future as well as the ethical standard of the office. My deep research shows that a number of these students find it very difficult to cope with the rigours of academics in their various institutions of learning.
This practice is unethical as it does not encourage hard work and competition. These students must know that they represent the very soul of our future, hence their academic success is paramount and must subscribe to the needed stages of evaluation.
Today policy: The new interim administrator, a retired colonel and a product of such many tests and examinations, believes and holds the firm view that the protocol must be strictly followed. In this regard, students who must be deployed must meet the basic requirements of such governing agencies like JAMB and other qualification examinations.
This, of course, is necessary for the self- development and general evaluation of the delegates. The protagonists of the school of thought that PAP delegates be deployed without the requisite examinatons is not only being unreasonable but doing a disservice to the students themselves.
The high rate of carry-over courses from some of the private schools as witnessed in some institutions as well as the high rate of ‘marks-buying’ has become too fashionable and must be totally discouraged.
Our system must breed the best and not the contrary. Recall that not too long ago some of our students made the news when they came out with first class degrees from their various institutions in the United Kingdom. Some include Owoupele Jerry Moses and Sameria Victor who both bagged first class degrees in law from the universities of Huddersfied and Birmingham in the United Kingdom, respectively.
Others who made first class include Azibanagein Godswill Lucky and Omoun Peres, jnr, among others. There were many others who had good results in the second class, upper divisions.
These students all went through the rigorous selection process; they embraced it and diligently prepared for it and ended up with first class results in top-ranking universities in United Kingdom.
The justification: All over the world education is a priceless commodity. It is an academic process that needs men and women with the necessary ingredients to be able to undertake such ventures. It is this necessity that allows for processes like aptitude tests and entrance examinations to determine those who are mentally and physiologically prepared.
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Clearly there is, therefore, an overriding necessity to ensure that such a process must be guided with clear rules and regulations. Therefore, one must commend and encourage the new Interim Administrator, Col. Milland Dikio, for his unflinching readiness to ensure that things are done properly and rightly too. We must ensure that we get the best so that they are not only successful in life but are able to compete with their counterparts from other parts of the globe.
The move by some students and stakeholders to circumvent and persuade the office to jettison this necessary process is not only inimical but unethical as its portends great danger to our collective future and should be rejected at all cost. Any delegate who is not ready to subject himself or herself to qualifying examinations has no business in the academic world.
We cannot pay for failures because that is one of the multiplier effects of abiding by this practice. Our people must rise up and quell this ill-wind that threatens our collective dream and vision of a secured future for our people. The idea is evil, unproductive and at best an attempt to create a clog in our collective wheel of intellectual progress.
I respectfully call on all men of good conscience to stand with the interim administrator and ensure that such bad policies whether mistakenly implemented in the office be jettisoned quickly. We must move with the age and ensure that we get things done correctly and be proud of such processes.
We cannot be an exception to this time tested procedure. I believe in due process that will facilitate excellence and bring out the best in us as a people, as exemplified by those that made us proud in the United Kingdom and beyond.
Owoupele, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Gbanraun, Bayelsa State.
Vanguard News Nigeria
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