THE INFLUENCE OF QUOTA SYSTEM ON NIGERIA UNITY SCHOOLS: A DETRIMENT TO JUSTICE AND FAIRNESS
Delivered at SCOLA UI Inter-Faculty Debate, 2018; emerged 1st Runner-up
Reed Morano once said “I would rather be hired solely for my talent, not just to fill a quota”
Distinguished audience, going by today’s topic, it is believed that because of the multi-ethnic nature of Nigeria and the desire to have quality education as a way of overcoming poverty and ignorance, the struggle to have access to education has become more aggressive hence the introduction of quota system policy as an instrument to enhance inter-ethnic unity, harmony and social cohesion.
A quota system according to dictionary.com is any admission policy requiring that a specified number or percentage of minority group members be admitted to a school, firm or organisation. Today, quota is the most discussed topic among the general category of people just as reported by independent.com in 2014. While some say quota is a curse, some say quota is a boom; but to me, I think the quota system was a boom in the old days but a curse today.
The influence of quota system on unity schools is a detriment to justice and fairness because in the course of bridging the gap between the educationally disadvantaged and educationally advantaged states there is somewhat more priority on the latter than the former. This is because meritocracy tends to be disrupted and as such, less qualified people are admitted. For God sake, why should brilliant students from the south be denied admission in order to give room for candidates from the north who may not apply to even fill their quota? Slots are reserved for candidates from the educationally disadvantaged states, but when these slots are not filled as expected they become wasted in that academic year when in actual fact, thousands of qualified candidates were denied admission for the fact that they were from the educationally advantaged states. As a result of that, the quota system is a detriment to justice and fairness because there is nothing like equality of states which the aforementioned mechanisms seem to address. In other words, there is no greater inequality than the equal treatment of the unequal.
Also, one of the influences of the quota system as a detriment to justice and fairness is that violent revolution is indirectly planted in the future of the brilliant and serious minded candidates because they have been denied a chance to actualize their dreams. As a matter of fact, it is sadder to discover that much of the resources used in running the affairs of this country come from the south who suffers most from the application of the quota system. So, ladies and gentlemen, what then is the assurance that the quota system will give unity schools life insurance?
However, despite the negativity of the system, one of the possible benefits which is not detrimental to justice and fairness is an avenue created for those who are less privileged in education to have a taste of what education is all about and this is evident in the University of Ibadan’s admission policy which gives a consideration for those from the educationally less developed states and by this, there is an opportunity for people to learn more about the society and even the culture which at the end of the day promotes unity, harmony and social cohesion.
Furthermore, looking at the positive aspect, when these students are put in the same class, they are like someone who cannot swim in the deep side of the ocean, who probably will struggle and learn to swim. You find out that in the end, some of these students turn out successful because of competition. Look at it this way, if we say we want equality, would it be better for us to have no students from Zamfara, Kebbi and Yobe states? Will that be a more equitable process? So for me, it’s not that the system is a proper system but it is about choosing between two evils.
In conclusion, to solve this problem, two things must be done. First, there should be a review of the admission policies whereby the quest to encourage the educationally disadvantaged states should not be done at the expense of the other states. And second, merit must remain the major criterion for educational advancement. I therefore put it to all stakeholders that our educational system, which is the life of the nation, should not be sacrificed on the altar of ethnicity. Thank you.