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JAMB as a departing concern

By Kunle Rotimi
10 August 2015   |   3:43 am
THE establishment of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board in Nigeria over 37 years ago was so relevant to the educational needs and circumstances at the time.
Students writing Jamb's computer based test

Students writing Jamb’s computer based test

THE establishment of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board in Nigeria over 37 years ago was so relevant to the educational needs and circumstances at the time.

At inception, JAMB coordinated admissions into a few universities which belonged mainly to Federal Government. No states or private entities had universities then. The Board had fewer institutions and admission-seeking candidates to handle and coordinate in terms of UME than today.

Gradually, from 1978, the responsibilities of JAMB have been increasing, especially in recent years, with its integration of states and private universities, polytechnics and colleges of education and additional federal tertiary institutions.

The objectives and aims of JAMB have thus become saturated and too omnibus, causing the Board to look like a dwarf in giant’s large robes! The quality of the Board’s admission process has almost been eroded by the magnitude of overwhelming and excessive responsibilities, in lean frame, it now shoulders!

Each year, JAMB charges exorbitant examination fees to conduct exams for millions of candidates seeking admissions into various tertiary institutions in Nigeria. 

The beneficiary-institutions are therefore deprived of their necessary input, in respect of the contents and context of the entrance examinations.

The admission or entry requirements into polytechnics and colleges of education are not the same with the universities’, yet JAMB administers same tests to all candidates for the UTME!

This approach has unwittingly compromised the institutional parameters, values and standards in curriculum contents. In that, a candidate who obtains three or four credits in WASCE or NECO exams, in respective subjects, who is suitable only for polytechnics or colleges of education, will sit for same UTME as candidates with six or more credits in WASCE, seeking university admission! The UTME thus puts together candidates with divergent academic orientations and unequal wherewithal!

The Board reportedly fixed 180 as cut-off mark for admission into universities and 150 for other tertiary institutions.  Meaning out of 400 maximum score for a candidate, the cut-off is brought below 45% average!  The Board therefore flung lowly-performed candidates to institutions they did not choose or want! This idea in itself is a promotion of crass mediocrity.  How then will Nigerian tertiary institutions compete fairly with their counterparts globally with this JAMB approach? Ordinarily, JAMB should not have anything to do with entrance exams in private universities, polytechnics or colleges of education at all.  

Being private concerns, with  proprietary privileges and differences, they should conduct their examinations the way these will suit their core values, mission and vision, without prejudice to the national policy on human capital development indices.

Whereas JAMB collects billions of naira from candidates who choose private universities, polytechnics and colleges of education, nothing is shared for mutual benefits.

This approach makes JAMB appear exploitative, when the private beneficiaries of admission process get nothing other than sundry candidates they don’t invite, and scores from exams they don’t conduct!

In all countries with higher standard tertiary education, there is no equivalent of JAMB. Any candidate with basic entry requirements can seek admission into any institutions of choice, by obtaining application forms! In most cases, these forms are free of charge!

The idea of post-UTME is double exploitation. The candidates pay twice for the same admission process. All JAMB should do is, to formulate policies, requirements and quality assurance for every tertiary institution in Nigeria.

Each institution should be allowed to conduct its exams, charge prescribed or fixed exam fee, choose its qualified candidates as students and file returns to JAMB on criteria for admission, every year. A purposeful government that cherishes positive change and rapid human capital development should scrap JAMB outright. The Board has outlived its usefulness. 

• Kunle Rotimi   is Consultant, Media Commentator, Author and Trainer.