On JAMB’s new cut-off mark
The new cut-off marks of 120 over 400 approved by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and stakeholders for admission into universities in the federation is the most idiotic, thoughtless and incomprehensible admission policy for aspiring candidates of university education that this country has ever had. It is ridiculous, baffling and regressive. At a time well-meaning Nigerians are making frantic efforts to salvage a tertiary educational system in distress, the latest policy is an unexpected death knell for tertiary education. This is especially true when it is considered that the university is the citadel of learning and research that produces the critical, cultivated, and problem-solving think-tank of a given society.
To bewildered audiences of the telecast of the stakeholders’ meeting, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, the registrar of JAMB, announced the stakeholders’ unanimous decision that the minimum cut-off mark for university entrance examination be pegged at 120 while the minimum cut-off for Polytechnics be put at 100.
Consistent with this position, an entry in the JAMB website states: “You must have the minimum JAMB cut off mark 120 to enter the Nigerian Universities. As for JAMB cut off mark for polytechnics and colleges you should have 100. At the same time, if you want to get an education at innovative, enterprising institutes, your minimum score must be 110. Remember! Higher institutions reserve the right to increase the JAMB 2017 cut off mark above the minimum accepted by JAMB.”
But the question must be asked: What character of stakeholders would pursue a policy so obnoxious and self-defeating? What was in the mind of these supposed stakeholders when they agreed to that policy? How would our educational standard be made so low and then we require world class labour force? It is very unfortunate that in this time and age when our universities require urgent rehabilitation for optimum national development, Nigerians would come together to formulate such an aberration.
There are many reasons this admission policy is an insult to the sensibilities and collective intelligence of the Nigerian people. Firstly, it is a deliberate endeavour to further put an already deplorable tertiary educational system in jeopardy. It has often been speculated by theorists that there has been a concerted effort to crumble Nigeria’s educational system through willful inaction when urgent attention was necessary, and through the formulation and implementation of self-defeating educational policies. In the past decades, educational policies tended to have been orientated towards lowering of standards. Right from budgetary allocation and funding of government educational establishment especially tertiary institutions, formulation and implementation of policies, to the control and management of the system, everything seems to be pointing towards motives other than the common good.
Secondly, notwithstanding the retention of old cut-off points by some federal universities, the policy has already given a bad label to products of universities. At 30 per cent pass mark, the new JAMB admission policy is a celebration of mediocrity and abysmal performance; an empowerment of sloth. Furthermore, in the comity of universities, our tertiary educational system would plummet further in the global university ranking. Our graduates would nowhere be considered as candidates in the global labour force, our certificates would become worthless, and the continuous denigration of our graduates would reach an unprecedented height. It may even get to a stage when, owing to the quality of enlightened workforce produced by this obnoxious policy, we shall be told that our graduates cannot manage our domestic affairs.
What is more? In all this, there is no scientific basis, no empirical research that justifies this new policy. Consequently, in the absence of any convincing reason for the lowering of the cut-off marks, it is pertinent that Nigerians ask whether this exercise is a script being acted by certain characters supposedly positioned to do so.
So far, 23 private universities of the 168 universities in the country have begun to implement the 120 cut-off point. And judging by the relatively unknown stature of these institutions, it is obvious that there is a deliberate conspiracy to allow private universities to have a market share of the high demand in university education. The demand for university education is not like the simple commercial relation between a buyer and a seller, or the elementary economic principle of demand and supply of products. University education is a strategic problem-solving vector of national development and socio-economic progress of a people. It is a well thought-out plan of action in fashioning out the ideas that will lead a people to prosperity, sustainability and happiness. To accomplish this, universities need the best and finest intellective and creative resources. Which is why university admissions are rigorous and tilted, until recently, towards liberal education,
Conversely, nothing in the new JAMB admission policy seems to suggest any modicum of seriousness along such thought. What is expressed by the ridiculous policy is a shameless sacrifice of quality education, rigorous scholarship and excellent research potential on the altar of worthless opportunism and hasty pragmatic convenience. By its misrepresentation of what the university means, JAMB is wallowing in triviality and injurious expediency. This is a disservice to the country.
The Federal Government must revert to the old, respectable cut-off mark for admission into university and other tertiary institutions. It must also make Nigeria’s universities of comparable standards with the best in the world, if the nation’s tertiary educational system is to be taken seriously. Nigeria’s peculiarity, in terms of demand in university education, should not be an excuse to officially celebrate non-performance and mediocrity.