NUC, don’t restore pass degree
The National Universities Commission (NUC) recently ordered vice chancellors of universities in Nigeria to review the existing system of grading graduating students. It said the review’s purpose is “arriving at a generally acceptable and uniform method of computing Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA)” in the Nigerian university system.
NUC’s Executive Secretary Prof. Julius Okojie made the announcement at a recent workshop in Abuja on review of grading system in Nigerian universities. He said it had become worrisome that most universities were derailing from the original academic traditions that guaranteed high quality education in the country. According to Okojie, while some disciplines use the 6-grade points of 5,4,3,2,1 and 0 for letter grades A,B,C,D,E and F, others have removed the E grade to produce a 5-grade points of 5,4,3,2, and 0 representing letter grades of A,B,C,D and F.
It would be recalled that NUC had in a circular to Nigerian universities in December 2012 announced the abolition of pass degree. It directed vice chancellors to implement the 5-points system of grading. Although some universities delayed the implementation of the new grading system, the beginning of the 2014/2015 session was used by vice chancellors of some universities to reiterate their commitment to the implementation of the 5-grade classification of degrees.
Since universities have actually started implementing the new grading policy, it appears incongruous that NUC which gave a directive to that effect is now calling for a review of the same policy when its implementation is yet to fully mature in the universities. What, perhaps, is required now is not a review but an evaluation of the implementation process with a view to knowing whether the policy is serving the purpose it is designed for. Any attempt to go back to the old system of 6-grade should be resisted by the universities as it encourages laziness among students.
The old 6-point grading system that obtained in universities was in the order of: First Class Division categorized as ‘A’ representing raw scores in the range of 70-100 percent with a cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.50-5.00; Second Class Upper Division categorized as ‘B’ representing raw scores in the range of 60-69 percent with a CGPA of 3.50-4.49; Second Class Lower Division categorized as ‘C’ representing raw scores in the range of 50-59 percent with a CGPA of 2.50-3.49; Third Class Division categorized as ‘D’ representing raw scores in the range of 45-49 percent with a CGPA of 1.50-2.49; and Pass degree categorized as ‘E’ representing raw scores in the range of 40-44 percent with a CGPA of 1.00-1.49.
By the provisions of the 5-point grading regime, the least category of pass previously called ‘pass degree’ and graded as ‘E’ representing raw scores in the range of 40-44 percent with a CGPA of 1.00-1.50 ceases to exist; meaning that the pass mark in every course now begins from 45 percent. One important development to note in the new grading regime is that the least CGPA required for a student to remain in any university academic programme is henceforth 1.50 instead of 1.00 that it used to be. A student whose CGPA falls below 1.50 shall be advised to either change his course of study or withdraw from the university.
The 5-point grading system is a laudable policy as it prompts students to work harder to cross the bar which has been raised from 40 to 45 percent. The quality of the worst performing students in the universities should be enhanced by this initiative. Besides, the pass degree has over the years has been treated with disdain by employers of labour. Abolishing the grade will therefore make students to sit up to face the challenges of their studies. If some disciplines in some universities are refusing to comply with the policy directive on the new grading system, the solution is not in a review of the new grading system. Rather, it is the responsibility of the monitoring department of NUC to ensure that universities with issues of non-implementation of the policy are made to comply.