Mr. Ipinyomi Communion Ariyo is the director of studies, Riche Dad Education Consults, Abuja; an organization founded in the year 2000 with a vision to bring out effectiveness in the educational processes and put an end to academic struggles. They render all kinds of educational services; from workshop/seminars, to tutorials for students preparing for examinations, such as: NECO, WAEC, NABTEB, UTME, IJMB, JUPEB, Cambridge A’ level and many more. Riche-Dad Education Consults, Abuja also has other arms which take care of other services such as: Private Home Tutors, where professional home tutors are recruited, trained, and contracted to clients.
In this exclusive interview, he beams light on the admission struggles of students in Nigeria and possible solutions to the menace. He points out reasons why students find it very thorny to gain admission into university.
On Professional Private Tutors at Riche-Dad Education Consults, Abuja.
Often times, we do job advert placements for tutors. When applications come in, we do aptitude test and conduct interviews, and finally if you are successful we train you. Here, your certificate is not the utmost requirement or criteria for employment or consideration for joining our team of professional private tutors, No! Until we can establish that a tutor (trainee) can deliver, we do not send them out. Note: a teacher can have educational certifications yet not qualified enough to handle special students. When I say, “Special”, I mean students that have special needs and probably requires special attention. So, we must have trained a tutor so much that we can contentedly hand over a child to you and be rest assured the child’s academic problem will be solved.
Training and building the teachers
At Riche-Dad Education Consults, REC, Abuja; we believe that supporting teachers in their professional development leads to improved outcomes for learners. Good quality training and reflective practice are essential parts of a teacher’s professional life. Our approach at REC to training and professional development supports teachers to become positive, conscientious, insightful, ground-breaking and engaged.
So, over a period of time while our teachers are being trained, we pay them. When we engage them in teaching at the study centre, we pay and build them to become professionals. And that is why when you come around you see as many as four to five lecturers for a particular subject (while on our payroll) and you might be wondering what we are doing with all of them. For instance, we have four teachers, who studied Chemistry and want to be trained at REC. We divide Chemistry into Organic, Inorganic, Physical, and General Chemistry. We assign an aspect (or course) to each tutor, after we had interviewed, tested and discovered where their strength lies. We allow them teach that aspect of Chemistry for a period of time until each of them become an expert. We then, reshuffle them to take another aspect (course) for a year or some months. By the time REC is done with them, after some years, they are not just developed but also become experts in the field of Chemistry. At this point, Riche-Dad Education Consults, Abuja can boldly say to our client who needs a Chemistry teacher, this one is competent and proficient, and will not disappoint you.
In fact, sometimes when schools call us for a particular subject tutor, we might even have many competent tutors readily available and willing to work but until we are very sure that they can deliver out there, we would tell the client to give us more time. We make sure that any tutor recommended by REC is a professional, not just having the qualification or certificates; It is one thing having the qualification and certifications, and another being able to deliver. We tell teachers that if they are coming to REC and the driving force is to make money, they might not excel in teaching. The driving force must be the passion to impact knowledge because today, teaching as a profession in Nigeria can’t be described as a high paying job where you expect to make millions. You must have the passion to teach!
A’ Level programs as Admission alternative
First, I must mention categorically that a student MUST not sit for UTME to be admitted into university. UTME is just one of the many requirements or means of getting admitted into university. I feel that anger within me when I see brilliant students, who have sat for UTME like five times (that is five good years), without admission and still want to sit for another. The first question I ask such students when they come to my office, is, “must you sit for UTME”. And the response I get most times puzzles me. You hear, “How will I enter university without UTME?”. As a matter of fact, most parents also believe the next thing after secondary education is that a child must sit for UTME. Astonishingly, these students and parents have bought and enrolled for UTME for years but never took their time to study the JAMB Brochure they paid for during registration. Some don’t even know it is JAMB Brochure but think it is a mere CD plate.
Section 1.0.05 of the JAMB Brochure clearly indicates ‘Direct Entry’ as a requirement and an option of getting admission into university at 200 level. That means; you may choose not to sit for UTME but opt for any of the ‘Direct Entry’ programmes. These programmes are too many for me to mention here. But we are all familiar with ND, NCE, Diploma, A’ level Examinations, and others. Of all these, I always advise admission seekers to opt for A’ level programmes (fondly referred to as foundation programmes by universities). These A- level programmes have very short duration (average of 8 months), compared to programmes like: NCE (three years), ND (two or three years), etc.
Let me quickly throw more lights on the A- level programmes, which we prepare students for in our centre.
First is, JUPEB; The Joint Universities Preliminary Examination Board (JUPEB) coordinated by the University of Lagos in consortium with ten other universities. They moderate the program and coordinate the exam across the country. It is a direct entry program that guarantees admission into two 200 level. Then, there is also the counterpart, IJMB; which is coordinated by Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. We prepare students for both A- level examinations and other examinations here at Riche Dad Tutors, Abuja. There are other A- level examinations like Cambridge A- level, GCE A- level, and so on.
Also, there are some other A- level exams that people are not aware of. We have been hearing of NABTEB (National Business and Technical Examination Board) which most people believe it is solely an O- level examination equivalencef of WAEC and NECO, but NABTEB as well has the Advance level. NABTEB actually has four different exams; the National Business Certificate (NBC), Advanced National Business Certificate (ANBC), as well as the National Technical Certificate (NTC) and the Advanced National Technical Certificate (ANTC). Another advantage of the advanced NABTEB examinations (ANTC & ANBC) is; it is an entry requirement into the civil service. A holder of ANTC or ANBC in the Civil Service is employed on level 5.
Who should take ANTC and ANBC exams?
First, to be qualified for the ANTC or ANBC examinations, you must have sat for the NTC or NBC respectively. So, if you just finished secondary school and had written WAEC, but desire to take ANTC or ANBC, you would need the NABTEB O- level (that is NTC & NBC) as requirement for the ANBC/ANTC; most admission seekers and the public do not know this.
The NABTEB Advantage
Here is one of the advantages; if two students, A and B are seeking admission into a technical university with both of them wanting to study engineering; If ‘A’ has NTC or ANTC and ‘B’ has WAEC or NECO, the technical university will prefer ‘A’ with NTC or ANTC to ‘B’ with WAEC or NECO. It is a fact that students who attend technical secondary schools and sit for NABTEB examination are more of practical or technical oriented. I guess technical secondary schools mostly write NABTEB not WAEC or NECO. We have many of these technical secondary schools in the FCT. There is one after the Nigerian Law School in Bwari, another at Garki Area 3 and Orozo, and many more. Take a visit to technical colleges and you would be impressed to see students from junior school displaying technical skills on machines and equipment.
So, I always advise parents, the moment you discover your child has flair for engineering or technical works, enroll the child in a technical secondary school and let the child seat for NABTEB (NTC).
The issue of none acceptance of NABTEB
Yes, I think this is an opportunity to clear the air on this. Every school accepts NABTEB but NABTEB cannot be accepted to study every course in the university. When candidates come to us, the first thing we ask is ‘what course do you want to study? Medicine?’, then go for WAEC OR NECO. But if the child says he or she want to study engineer, NABTEB will be better because NABTEB gives you comparative advantage in the field of engineering. Or if a child desires to study a business related course, such as: Accounting, Business Administration, and so on, we recommend the child to sit for NABTEB (NBC). You will notice that subjects like accounting, book-keeping, etc in NABTEB are more technical.
So, you want to study Law and you take NABTEB certificate to a university for admission, you might be denied admission because, LAW is neither technical nor business related. Admission seekers and students need to be properly guided in the choice of examinations to sit for.
The place of NABTEB in polytechnic admissions
The Act establishing polytechnics in Nigeria is to provide courses in technology, applied science management and other fields of studies. So, the functions of each Polytechnic is to provide full-time or part-time courses of instruction and training- in technology, applied science, commerce and management; and so on.
Similarly, according to Act 70 of August 23, 1993 which established NABTEB, the Board is charged with the following mandates: to Conduct examinations leading to the award of NBC, NTC, ANBC, and ANTC and to take over the conduct of Technical and Business examinations hitherto conducted by the Royal Society of Arts, London, City and Guilds of London and West African Examinations Council. The Act also mandates NABTEB to conduct entrance examinations into Technical Colleges, Allied Institutions and so on.
Left to me, NABTEB Certificate is supposed to be a requirement, if possible the only valid certificate, to be admitted into institutions like Polytechnics or technical universities. But recently, WAEC and NECO have introduced ‘Trade’ subjects, which are also technical oriented.
I need to also mention that originally when NABTEB was established, it was purely technical and business examination. It started with strictly technical or business related subjects. But I guess when the dispute of none-acceptability of the certificate started; the board introduced some more general subjects like: CRS, Literature, Geography, Agricultural Science, Government and others at its NBC and NTC level.
Some universities however have their standards and some would not just accept NABTEB for certain courses. There are some universities, disappointedly, that discriminate even against NECO as well. For God sake, NABTEB and NECO are the only two national examinations we can be proud of.
NABTEB, NECO our National Exams
Let me try to bring to the reminder of the public. In 2016, The Registrar/Chief Executive Officer of NABTEB, Professor Ifeoma Isiugo-Abanihe clarified that the exams body’s certificate is never inferior to the likes of the National Examinations Council (NECO) and West African Examinations Council (WAEC).
I remember he made the clarification in an interaction with Daily Sun correspondent. He even stressed that the certificate served the same purpose with NECO and WAEC, adding that it was a legal requirement in admission processes into universities and other tertiary institutions.
I think the federal government should ensure that every institution accept both NABTEB and NECO. It should be enforced. These are our pride- NECO and NABTEB. We should celebrate the examinations. I don’t know why we should discriminate against them. WAEC is not our examination; it is West African. It is the responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Education to ensure every school accepts these results. Why should we discriminate the two national exams we have? It is unpatriotic and erroneous.
When can candidates apply for the IJMB/JUPEP programs?
A student can apply after he or she has sat for O- level (SSCE) Exams. Those days, before JAMB was established, there was High School Certificate (HSC). After secondary school, students sat for HSC before going to the university. It is the HSC that gave birth to IJMB (Interim Joint Matriculation Board). Ideally, when you finish secondary school education, you are expected to have the basic (preliminary) studies. This Basic Studies prepares one for admission into 200 level at the University. It is referred to as ‘Direct Entry’.
Basically, all courses taught at 100 level are continuation of secondary school subjects, though advanced. That is why you see that all science students, whether they are studying Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, Microbiology or even engineering courses, they all take almost the same courses in their year one in the university. It is at year two they focus more on their departmental courses. The university education actually starts from Year two.
It is recommended that parents expose their children to basic studies, which is same as year One in the university. During this one year, they have the opportunity to adjust to ‘after secondary life’. At this preliminary stage, they are groomed to be able to cope with campus life. As an educationist, I have realized that students who pass through school of basic or preliminary studies do well in the university and most graduate with either First Class or Second Class Upper. They find the university curriculum easy because what they studied during the one year basic studies in IJMB or JUPEB covers year one and partly year two syllabus. So, when they get admitted into 200 level in the university, they get a very good GP for a start.
Who can enroll for A- Level Programmes?
In as much as we encourage admission seekers to utilize the opportunity of Direct Entry programmes, like IJMB and JUPEB, we must also state that, A- level programme is not for every student. If you are lazy, you cannot succeed in the programme. Humans are programmed differently; some of these children are very good at multiple choice exams, while some prefer essay-like examinations. You have to identify that in a child before you determine which examinations the child should take to get admitted into university. Research has it that, children who are easily distracted fail multiple-choice kind of exams, like UTME. Such students could be good with long-essay exams like the A- levels. But for a child that is much focused, such who are brilliant do well in UTME.
I have seen children who did brilliantly well in SSCE and are smart fail UTME. They will tell you they don’t like objective questions, they want to write their thoughts and knowledge down. Expose such to an exam like IJMBE, where there are no objective questions, they will do well. So, A- level examinations are for students who are much focused and study well.
Again, this year alone about1.8million students sit for UTME and at the end of the day those that will pass may not be up to 35%. The rest are expected to come next year again to write. Then, I keep asking, shouldn’t we ask why they keep failing? UTME might not be too suitable for them all.
That reminds me of one of our most celebrated ex-student here at Riche-Dad Tutors, who is in ABU Zaria. He is still doing exploit there; he is in strong 4 point. He was an undergraduate in one of the private universities but due to financial challenges, he dropped out. Consequently, he had to write UTME and scored 143. When I asked him why he failed, he said ‘I don’t like multiple-choice questions. They have solved the questions and gave me the options to choose from, I want to solve them myself. I like reasoning out the answer not choosing from options” I told his mother to let the boy enroll for IJMB exam. He joined the IJMB students almost towards the end of the programme. We were not too stunned; three months into the programme, the US embassy gave him an Award as the 2017 best young writer in Nigeria. The same boy who score 143 in UTME wrote IJMB exam and had 16 points (straight A’s in Literature-in-English, Government, and CRS), the only student that had straight A’s in the whole of FCT.
In summary, a student that can qualify for A- level and excel must be a very good writer and hard-working. It is not for slothful students.
The role of preliminary studies on students’ maturity
Again we had this student, who scored 297 in JAMB (UTME) last year. She sat for aptitude test in one of the private universities in Abuja to study Medicine and emerged second best. She is such a very intelligent and smart girl, but was denied admission based on her age; she was not even sixteen years at the time.
Her parents felt very bad but I told them the universities know why they take such decisions. This academically sound girl had her JAMB tutorials here (RICHE DAD TUTORS) and personally I can tell you that she still needs more exposure before entering the university. For a girl who hasn’t mastered how to handle her menstrual cycle yet and sometimes get stained even during classroom sessions, you still need such students close to their parents.
When I meet those kinds of parents, I urge them to allow their children enroll for a year basic or preliminary studies in IJMB or JUPEB, after which they get a direct entry admission (200 level) into any university of their choices. By that time, they must have been more matured psychological and physically.
I also remember last year of a 14 year old boy that had straights A’s in WAEC, and had a very high score in JAMB, but was denied admission. And I asked, why did they allow the boy to write the exam in the first place? After the straight A’s they should have enrolled him for Basic studies, a year later, he would be more matured and of age to get into the university even at 200 level. Invariably, he will end up not losing any year.
Should there be an age limit for JAMB?
Yes! There should be age limit for JAMB. If universities will not admit a 16 year child, why allow a 14 year old child register for UTME in the first place. So, it should be well stated and spelt out. The system should be modified in such a way that by the time a student is creating JAMB profile and inputs his date of birth, it will accept or denied profile creation. That means if you are not up to the stipulated age, you automatically cannot register for examination.
I will advise, if your child completes his/her secondary school education at early age, enroll such a child for A- level programmes (IJMBE or JUPEB
On Parents rushing their children to skip class and maturity issues
Well, in as much as we talk about age limit for students who would sit for JAMB examination, I still don’t believe that age determines maturity. There should be age limit, but it is also possible for a child to be 20 and immature. You can find even a child of 12 years old smarter and more intelligent than a 20 year old.
I was an exam officer of Standard Academy Group of Schools in Mpape some years back and we had this boy, an Albino but very smart. He joined the school from JSS 1 and after his promotion examination; his form master walked up to me and said, “Sir, we are having some challenges with Obinna. He scored A’s, with 96%, 99% and even 100% in all his subjects”. He complained that he was not comfortable teaching the boy again because of the kind of questions the boy used to ask in class. We allowed the boy to attempt Junior WAEC after the JSS 1 promotion exam and he emerged 2nd best in the whole of FCT. The school presented three computers as reward for his excellence. Obinna was a less privileged boy from a very poor home. The father was a taxi driver. Again, when he was in SS 1, he personally approached me, begged me to support his desire to attempt WAEC GCE. I said ‘but you are just in SS one,’ he replied, “Sir, I just want to try it, I have started attempting WAEC past questions and they look simple, I will try it.” Seeing the courage in the young boy and his academic exploit during his junior secondary school days, I decided to register him. When the result came out, he had two A1s, two B2s, four B3s and one C4. I was like, ‘WOW, this boy just entered SS 1’. He had no friends; he was always with his book everywhere. I was encouraged, so when he got to SS2, I registered him for JAMB and he made about 270 and UNN gave him admission to study Medicine. I think in the long run, when he got admission into UNN he was 16 years or there about. For this boy, the intelligence was there, we could not keep him to spend the idea 6 years in secondary school.
What we have today in our society is quite different from Obinna’s case. You would see a child that cannot on his own pass school examination being push by parents to skip classes. In fact in some cases, if parents ask for double promotion and you object, they withdraw their children to another school. This is wrong! We should allow children to follow the Nigeria Education system based on a 6-3-3-4 system which was introduced in 1988 to replace the 6-5-4 system of education. There is no rationale need rushing kids except in outstanding cases, like that of Obinna.
Advice on parents rushing their children
If your child seems brainy and academically luminous, you could expose him to write the GCE but allow him to complete his secondary education. Okay, your child is in SS 2, it is okay to pick GCE form for him. Allow him write the exam with the motive or mindset of evaluating his capability to attempt external exam. And since the result comes out before May/June when WASSCE starts, with the GCE result you will be able to assess his ability to sit for external exam. When you do this, you will know in which of the subjects the child is having weaknesses. Most times you cannot use internal examination to determine how brilliant a child is because internal examination is based on what the child has been taught or what the scheme of work covers, but external examination is based on the syllables- what students are expected to have covered all through their secondary education. So, there is no harm in exposing them to external exams to know how smart they can be with national or external exams.
Looking at financial constraints in quality education
I tell parents to know their sizes and opt for schools within their financial capacity. Just as the scripture has it in Luke 14:28, if you want to build a tower you must have sat down to count the cost. Personally, I have advised some parents to pull their children out of private schools to government schools. We have government schools where they pay about N1000 to N4000 per term even in the FCT. The problem with most parents in Abuja is ‘Class’. They want to belong. They like to be proud of a child who graduated from an ‘international school’. That your colleagues/neighbors have their children in private school does not mean you must have yours there. Go to Federal Government Colleges, their products are good. When they get to SS 1, many of them will come and say; ‘Director, can you recommend and get us a good school, we can’t afford this one again?’
This may shock you! When we do admission here, we give preference to students who have good results from government schools than those who have straight A’s from private schools. Maybe I am biased. But I just have this personal belief that most ‘Credits’ from government schools are better than some ‘Distinctions’ from private schools. I may be wrong though.
Advice to students especially the SS3 students preparing for SSCE
First, a student must know what he or she wants in life, not just educational. It surprises me when I see a student who desires to be an accountant in life and does not have ‘Accounting’ as a subject in his SSCE subjects. You would see a child who has flair for politics and has never done ‘Government’ as a subject and wants to sit for SSCE. Saretudents should endeavor to attend a guidance and counseling session, and get help on what they want in life. Eventually, that would be an indicator to what suitable subjects he needs to sit for in SSCE.
Secondly, students must be focused and be strategic in their preparation for SSCE. Don’t be surprised if you see a student who wants to study an engineering course in the university, and his best subject is Religious Studies. He even knows Religious Studies more than Mathematics and Science subjects. That is erroneous! If you are a science student, you must know that there are no less than five subjects you must credit with good grades. You must pass: English, Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology, and Physics. So, much time should be devoted to these five.
Thirdly, if you are focused, diligent and confident in yourself, what do you need help for during your exams? A determined and brilliant student does not need ‘expo’ to excel. We have university dropouts who could not go back to sit for JAMB but opted for A- levels here. The reason they failed in the university is not far from this. They were helped to pass their SSCE but could not cope in the university. If you cannot defend your SSCE result, you may not be able to defend your GP in the university; and may end up being expelled. So, shun malpractice during your examination.
And after your SSCE, do not stay at home waiting for next JAMB registration before you start preparing for university education. Enroll for A- levels (either IJMB or JUPEB). An idle and unproductive mind is very vulnerable, especially after secondary education.
And lastly, put your trust in God!
Choice of institutions during JAMB- The College of Education Advantage
I don’t know why people run away from colleges of education. I asked a girl to pick NCE form and after three years she can pick Direct Entry form, which would give her a direct admission into 200 level in the university. Her response was appalling! She said I didn’t wish her any good in life. And that is why at REC, we organize and conduct workshops and seminars for students. We invite professionals from different fields to educate them.
The Bitter lesson
When I left the university, it was not easy getting a job. In fact, I was ready to do any job after my NYSC. I never realised I missed a step in my career a long time ago. I regretted not going to the college of education when I had the opportunity and wished I knew I could have done NCE before my degree.
Two years after my NYSC, I got jobs with insurance companies where I was paid N10, 000 per month. It was worse than living from hand to mouth. Three years after working with insurance companies, I saw a vacancy at the Nigerian Turkish International College, Kaduna. We were 47 that went for the interview for the post of an exam officer. My CV was rich with work experiences as examination officer in various capacities (ranging from secondary schools to even tertiary institutions). Three of us passed the test, but when I got back to Abuja, one of the women who interviewed us called me and said “Oh! Your interview was wonderful today, but I will advise you to pray very well because out of the three of you that were interviewed, you scored highest with 81%, but you are the only one that does not have educational qualification.” Someone had told me that NTIC pay in pounds and I calculated it to be almost N170, 000 per month. I called my pastor to join me in prayers. I was already dreaming of how I would buy a car, do this and that. Two days later I called the woman and she said “Sorry they gave the post to second best. I advise to get educational qualification”. I felt like crying. I regretted not going to college of education.
If you sit for UTME and your score cannot get you into university, and you have flair for education, please do not hesitate; go to college of education. That is why JAMB has made available four options of institutions for students to choose from. Spend three years in the college, get good grades and get a direct entry to 200 level to get your degree certificate.
Another advantage is this. Most educational establishments, including Government establishments, do not usually employ degree holders. But in your case, you have both degree and NCE. You could get into the organization with your NCE which is easier and with time, upgrade your employment status to degree. To me, that is wisdom!
Are those that fail UTME dull?
Like I said earlier, that a child keeps failing UTME does not mean he or she is dull. No! You may just have to expose such a child to another kind of examination or programme that would earn him admission into university.
Advice to parents
I advise parents to find time to counsel their children and discover the ability of their children. Children should not be forced to write UTME (JAMB). If your child has passion for education, you must not even go to the university first; college of education is there, after three years take direct entry into the university. And do not force a course of study on your child. They usually end up not studying it enthusiastically.
Hope for those who missed 2019 UTME
Presently we are trying to see how we can reach out to the children who are losing hope already. The truth is that education system in Nigeria needs restructuring as well. There are many students who are depressed and disheartened already. I have seen so many in these few weeks. Most of them had been promised admission into universities but to not avail and till JAMB registration closed, they could not register. So, they have lost admission and lost opportunity of writing UTME this year again. They will waste one year at home. See the way the destinies of these children are being toiled with. We should structure the admission processes in such a way that there would a unified calendar when every university must stop the admission processes.
Now these set of students need to know that all hope is not lost. If they gain admission this year they will enter 100 level. Now IJMB form is on sales and will close soon. If they seize the opportunity and obtain IJMB form, next year with the IJMB certificate they will still gain admission into 200 level, same level their mates would be next year. So, you see, there is still hope for those who were denied admission.
Mr. Ipinyomi Ariyo Communion can be reached on 08064465717, 08075850108, 08186222802 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org