Educationist Blames COVID-19 for Students’ Low UTME Scores

An educationist and Director, New Beacon International School, Abuja, Mr. Emmanuel Ozigi has attributed the mass failure recorded by candidates in the 2021 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ozigi stated this while fielding questions from journalists at the maiden graduation ceremony of the school for SS3 and JS3 to SS1 students. He also called on the federal government to ensure monitoring and evaluation of schools to enforce educational standards.

The director added that the government should ensure that the capacity of teachers are strengthened, while public schools should be adequately funded so that they can compete with the private sector.

Ozigi regretted that many schools couldn’t afford their teachers’ salaries even after the lifting of the COVID-19 lockdown to adequately prepare the students for the exams. He said: “Coping with COVID has not been easy. Part of the coping strategies which we expected that there should be palliative from governments. The private institutions should be supported. I don’t think that the initiative has worked because some of us have not been able to access some of those palliatives from the federal government.

“However, on our own as directors of the school and other partners, we put funds together to see how we can run the school without stopping. Even though with COVID, you would be surprised that we are still paying teachers. We paid them up to a certain level that we now have to pay them half salary, then eventually there was a lift in September. So, we did not allow them to go because we wanted to retain them. So we did not stop or sack anyone or terminate any appointment. And they are happy for the fact that it did not affect our calendar because we have a uniform calendar in FCT and at the same time.”

The director appealed to the government to support the private sector with some funding at a reasonable rate that they can pay back.

While regretting the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the 2021 UTME result, Ozigi added, “the JAMB outcome is a worry to me because as you rightly said it is very difficult funding education. Now paying teachers and running all the operational activities has not been an easy thing. So, some schools that cannot afford it failed and probably could not retain their teachers.
“Even those in the public may not have that much zeal and support for the school because they need to earn other streams of income. So, the time to be used to take care of the children they use it on other things thereby affecting the quality hours they need to take care of and tutor the children.
“Some of them might be the outcome you see as a fallout of the JAMB result. If you are not careful, it might still come up with WAEC. But we pray that it does not. But the few children we have here had very good grades in JAMB. They had over 250. So we are happy and we believe that when they write WAEC they will have better results too.”
He said the school has been able to maintain its quality of learning which has shown in the students being churned out because the management did not compromise standards in line with regulatory authorities and in line with best practice.
According to him, the minimum qualification of a teacher in the school is B.Edu, adding that the school does not recruit people who do not have requisite qualifications. “Our NCE holders are class assistants. We ensure that we pay our teachers well, give them some welfare and ensure they are comfortable.”


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