EQUALITY OF ACCESS AND CATCHMENT AREA FACTOR IN UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS IN NIGERIA
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
University education crowns the other levels of education in the production of intellectual property and a productive work force of a country required for the social, economic, and political development of a country; even in this age of global advancement. Before now, primary and secondary education has always been the foundation for education, and this has in a way led to the relegation of the university education. Irrespective of how important the primary and secondary education are in the intellectual development of a person, university education goes a long way in the national development of a nation; poverty alleviation and other forms of development in a developing country like Nigeria (Wolfensohn, 2000).
Going through different studies on the state of education in developing countries, some factors have been highlighted to hamper the growth and development of tertiary institution to include finance, academic qualification, available space, lack of infrastructure, untrained personnel, etc.
Providing equal education opportunity has always been a lip service of the government of Nigeria, rather than the actual implementation of this policy. The challenge higher education has in Nigeria is the non-implementation of the UNESCO (2000)’s goal of Education for All, and this has overtly led to a drop in higher education enrolment in Africa by less than 5% (Juman 2007).
Nigerian education right from inception has always been accompanied with imbalance, as a result of the difference in timing due to when it was introduced in different parts of the country. Steps have been taken at different times to tackle the issue of this imbalance in Nigeria’s educational system, but all have proved abortive; thereby affecting one of the goals of education as a unifying factor to rather broadening the gap created due to this imbalance.
In addition, the problem of one ethnic group dominating equally possesses a challenge in the admission process in higher education. At the long run, the nation seems far from achieving the goal of equal educational opportunity at the higher education.
Access to education is one of the policies of the government of Nigeria in the education sector. This is the reason why the government tries to support the education sector of the country, especially the higher education; though their best is not good enough.
In Nigeria, there is an increase in the number of universities across the country and this has led to the access and tried to reduce the problem of education imbalance in Nigeria. Sequel to this, Nigeria currently has 129 universities, 40 federal universities, 39 state universities and 50 private universities (NUC (2014) Database). From the above data, it means that more creation of universities in Nigeria is tailored towards correction of educational imbalance and national development Olayiwola, 2012, p. 33).
A strong means of improving access to education is the admission policy. The government uses the admission policy as a yard stick for measuring the type of students granted admission. It is the National Universities Commission (NUC) and Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) that control the access to education in Nigeria, therefore it beholds on them to solve the problems associated with access to education. Thus, there is need to review the entry requirements, bearing in mind that the quality of input (students given admission) determines the output.
The issue of inequality in Nigerian university education is traced to 1948 with the introduction of University College, Ibadan (UCI), an affiliate of London University, in the south-western part of Nigeria. A comparative look at the establishment of universities in Nigeria right from that time (1948) still date shows that the south western part of Nigeria has more access to education compared to other geo-political zones of the country.
Catchment area refers to the geographical area of a university. Catchment area policy implies that residents of a particular area be given preference in terms of university admission to non-residents. In Nigeria, catchment area is based on geographical location and historical factor. Usually, catchment area is duly determined by the facilities available such as road network, the boundaries of administrative areas as well as political exigencies that are present in a country. However, what led to the problem of access to education in Nigeria is the issue of location difference among the different geopolitical zones in the country. This inequality in setting up universities led to the democratization of universities in Nigeria, in other to give everyone access to education; and that is why bodies like NUC and JAMB were inaugurated to check these processes. NUC is saddled with the responsibility of providing a guide to the board and university body on how to go about admission processes (Ojerinde, 2011: p499).
In other to ensure quality education in Nigeria, and to use education as a powerful weapon for national development, there is need for these education bodies to look into ways of improving educationally backward states in the country. Though JAMB tries to carry all the states of the federation along, but there is still room for better improvement.
It is on this pedestal that this study aims at examining the equality of access and catchment area factor in university admissions in Nigeria.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Overtime, inequality has been noticed in universities across Nigeria, beginning with admission enrolment where most male students are given more admission slots than the females.
In addition to this is the issue of location. Obviously, there are more universities located in the south-western parts of Nigeria compared to other parts of the country.
However, other factors that hamper access to university education include inadequacy in the number of universities, high demand for university education, high cost of university education, poor government policy on access to higher education and lack of finance on access to higher education.
These are some of the problems this study seeks to proffer solutions to.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major objective of this study is equality of access and catchment area factor in university admissions in Nigeria.
Other specific objectives include:
a) To examine how inequality of access and catchment area factor of university education in Nigeria can be resolved.
b) To examine the relationship between catchment area factor and production of workforce for the Nigerian economy.
c) To examine the challenges of equality of access of university education in Nigeria.
d) To determine the extent NUC has curbed catchment area factor in university admissions in Nigeria.
e) To examine the relationship between catchment area factor and quality of Nigerian education.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions are generated to guide this study:
a) How can inequality of access and catchment area factor of university education in Nigeria be resolved?
b) What is the relationship between catchment area factor and production of workforce for the Nigerian economy?
c) What are the challenges of equality of access of university education in Nigeria?
d) To what extent has NUC curbed catchment area factor in university admissions in Nigeria?
e) What is the relationship between catchment area factor and quality of Nigerian education?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H0: There is no relationship between catchment area factor and production of workforce for the Nigerian economy.
H1: There is a relationship between catchment area factor and production of workforce for the Nigerian economy.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study aims serves as a reminder to education administrators, stakeholders, educational bodies like NUC and JAMB, policy makers and the government on the importance of tackling problems associated with equality of access and catchment area factor in university admissions in Nigeria.
This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this topic and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other work or study.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study is restricted to equality of access and catchment area factor in university admissions in Nigeria.
Limitations of study
1. Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview). 2. Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
EQUALITY OF ACCESS: This is the concept that all persons should have equal rights of access to anything they desire or everyone should be able to use and access everything in the same way.CATCHMENT AREA: This is the area from which a city, service, or institution attracts a population that uses its services. For example, a school catchment area is a geographic area from which students are eligible to attend a local school.Governments and community service organizations often define catchment areas for planning purposes and public safety such as ensuring universal access to services like fire departments, police departments, ambulance bases, and hospitals. NUC (NATIONAL UNIVERSITIES COMMISSION): It was established in 1962 as an advisory agency in the Cabinet Office. However, in 1974, it became a statutory body, and the first Executive Secretary, in the person of Prof. Jibril Aminu was then appointed. Its functions include granting approval for all academic programmes run in Nigerian universities, granting approval for the establishment of all higher educational institutions offering degree programmes in Nigerian universities, ensure quality assurance of all academic programmes offered in Nigerian universities, and channel for all external support to the Nigerian universities. JAMB (JOINT ADMISSIONS AND MATRICULATION BOARD): is a Nigerian entrance examination board for tertiary-level institutions. The board conducts entrance examinations for prospective undergraduates into Nigerian universities. The board is also charged with the responsibility to administer similar examinations for applicants to Nigerian public and private monotechnics, polytechnics, and colleges of educations.UNESCO (UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATION): This is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) based in Paris. Its declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter. It is the heir of the League of Nations' International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation. REFERENCESWolfensohn, J. D. 2000. War on AIDS: free from poverty, free from AIDS by James D. Wolfensohn, President - the impact on AIDS on peace and security in Africa. Presidential speech. Washington, D.C.: World Bank Group. Juman, R. A. (2007). Wetlands of Trinidad and Tobago. Book published by the Institute of Marine Affairs, Hilltop Lane, Chaguaramas National Universities Commission (n.d): List of Nigerian Universities and the Year founded: Retrieved June 10,2008 from Olayiwola, S. (2012). Alternative perspectives to funding public universities in Nigeria. In C. Ghenai (Ed.), Sustainable Development/Book 2 (pp. 27 – 38). Intech, Open Access Publisher, DOI: 10.5772/ 29056. Ojerinde, A. (2011). Admissions into tertiary institutions in Nigeria - The role of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB). In A. Ojerinde, Public examinations in Nigeria(pp. 495 – 515). India, Melrose Books and Publishing Ltd..