Education is the bedrock of development in any nation, hence the saying that no nation can grow beyond its level of education.
This informs why countries the world over strive to ensure that this sector remains virile. The primary, secondary and tertiary levels of learning are pivotal to education as they are mutually vital in engineering growth in any nation.
Pupils progress from one learning paradigm to the other by writing examinations, both internal and external. In particular, external examinations require payment of fees, which run into thousands of naira.
For example, National Examination Council, NECO, charges about eleven thousand three hundred and fifty naira for secondary students sitting
for Senior Secondary Certificate Examination, SSCE, while the West African Examination Council, WAEC, collects about the same amount or more.
Joint Matriculation Examination Board, JAMB, demands payment of about five thousand naira from candidates wishing to write Unified Tertiary
Matriculation Examination (UTME).
However, the present economic situation in the country has made the task of paying for the examinations quite burdensome to parents including civil servants, many of whom have unpaid salaries to contend with in their states.
An assessment of the current situation in the country, and the bid to forestall its impact on education must have informed the decision by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to approve the downward review of the examination fees, which will take effect from January 2019.
The review affects registration fees to be paid for Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) and Basic Education Certificate Examination.
The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu who announced the reduction, said Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) fees for UTME had been reduced from five thousand naira to three thousand five hundred naira.
SSCE fees charged by the National Examinations Council, NECO, was reduced from eleven thousand three hundred and fifty naira to nine thousand eight hundred and fifty naira while the Basic School Certificate Examination, BECE, by NECO was also cut from five thousand five hundred to four thousand naira.
This move by Federal Government is commendable, as it represents part of ongoing efforts to assist ordinary Nigerians who have been having
difficulties paying for these examinations.
Students whose parents could not afford the fees end up as drop-outs irrespective of their talents or performance. JAMB records indicate that at the end of the two-month application window, it registered 1,662,763 candidates for the 2018 exam, less than the 1,718,425 candidates who registered for the exam within a month and two weeks period in 2017, indicating a 3.2 percent decrease.
While the current policy is laudable, there is the need for government to do more, particularly in the area of reduction of fees paid at the tertiary level.
Considering the present economic strain, many families find it difficult making ends meet, and candidates who secure admission might equally end up not getting into the system if they find it difficult to cope with fee payment.
Government should not see the high examination fees as the only problem plaguing the education sector, issues such as poor quality of education, dilapidated structures and increasing number of out-of- school children should also be considered.