Why candidates, parents and guardians are deeply worried
From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Recent developments in Nigeria tertiary admission system have thrown confusion and uncertainty into the minds of candidates who sat for the 2016 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), about the possibility of securing a hitch free admission to study their courses of choice in any Nigerian university.
Similarly, parents and guardians are also worried about the educational destiny of their children, particularly as it concerns several policy somersaults of the government in recent past.
A parent, Mr. Jackson Sunday, while expressing his displeasure with the development told our correspondent in Abuja that the policymakers are losing focus by the day. “How best can someone describe a situation where government would announce a policy and before you could say ‘Jack Robinson,’ it would swallow its vomits. That can, obviously, be attributed to inadequate consultation and contributions from major stakeholders in the education sector, and it is very unhealthy for our education system.”
The most worrisome aspect of it is the issue of Post-Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (Post-UTME) exams being conducted by individual universities for the purpose of testing the candidates’ academic and intellectual competence.
Not long ago, the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, announced the ban on Post-UTME describing it as a well-orchestrated means of defrauding candidates. The statement caused some confusion in the plans of individual universities and also generated criticisms from some stakeholders in education.
The Minister, apparently working on information available to him insisted that Post-UTME exams should remain scrapped, describing the exercise as illegal, unconstitutional and well-orchestrated platform for schools to defraud candidates, thus throwing more financial burden on parents and guardians.
He maintained that the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) is the only statutory body that has constitutional backing to conduct admission exams into public tertiary institutions, and under no circumstance whatsoever should any institution take over that responsibility by proxy.
“For the avoidance of doubt, any educational institution after secondary education is regarded as a tertiary institution,” he said. “Therefore, all tertiary institutions, including Polytechnics, Colleges of Education, universities or by whatever name it is called after secondary education must be subjected to admission through the JAMB.
“Moreover, there has been no empirical evidence to show that since the inception of post-UTME, universities have been having better students. Rather, students are still being put on probation, withdrawn or outright expulsion annually on the account of low performance even when they gained admission through post-UTME.
“At the end of probationary admission by JAMB, the candidates can be cleared (screened) for final admission. For any institution with a shortfall in admission, such institution can revert to JAMB for supplementary admission. Clearing in this case (screening) entails only the verification of certificates of the candidates, JAMB scores, and any other physical examination to ensure that such candidates are not cultists. After this, the candidates are qualified for matriculation. Such screening should be at no cost to the parents or students and should be done upon resumption in order to avoid unnecessary travels in search of admission.”
The piece of news brought joy and happiness to parents and students, some of whom were denied admission into the university or other tertiary institutions of their choice due to the illegalities allegedly perpetrated by school officials during the post-UTME.
A candidate, Pelumi Oluwaseun, who shared her joy over the development narrated how she had scored far above the cut-off mark on several occasions but could not pass the hurdles of post-UTME because of the actions of the university management.
She explains: “I was shocked when one of the officials asked for gratification. The official requested that I cooperate with them (which has to do with huge sum of money or sexual rewards in lieu) but I couldn’t because I can’t afford it. That is why I have continue to spend years at home.”
Adamu, no doubt, had such cases in mind, when, in sympathizing with parents/guardians who spend fortunes on transportation, hotel accommodation, examination fees and sundry costs, for their wards to gain admission into our universities, said such practice negates the resolve by government to make education affordable to Nigerians.
“I am also mindful of reported cases that some staff of tertiary institutions take undue advantage of the female candidates in their quest to gain admission,” he announced. “In some cases, parents die in the process of travelling to secure admission for their wards, and never live to see those children through,” a situation he described as painful and avoidable.
In response, the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities converged on Abuja for an emergency meeting to deliberate on better ways of resolving the problem. But at the end of the day, they succeeded in convinced the federal government on the need to continue with the screening exercise for students that chose their institutions, after presenting what they considered to be genuine reasons and a compromise was reached.
Few days after, candidates were shock to hear that the federal government and Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU) have reintroduced post-UTME, but this time around it would cost every candidate N2, 500. The Minister, through a statement released by his Director of Publicity, Media, and Public Relations, Mr. Ben-Gwong, later clarified that the N2, 500 would only be paid by candidates who successfully scaled through the university screening exercise. This is contrary to the previous practice in which all candidates are forced to part with some money before they could sit for the post-UTME exam.
The AVCNU Secretary-General, Prof. Michael Faborode, said the agreement was reached after extensive deliberations with the officials of Ministry of Education led by the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan.
As if that was not enough, JAMB was widely reported to have introduced Point Grading System. According to the reports which JAMB later denied, prospective candidates for admission would be chosen based on the points they scored in accordance with the laid-down procedures. But few days later, JAMB denied the widely circulated report, blaming it on mischievous people that went and copied the illustration from their website and fed Nigerians with the information.
JAMB Head of Information, Dr. Fabian Benjamin said: “The Board wishes to state clearly that the point grading system was an initial illustration by the Registrar of JAMB, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, of how few institutions were using the system to select candidates for admission while other institutions were subjecting candidates to written test.”
He recalled that the recent workshop on the modality for the 2016 admission into tertiary institutions approved the re-enforcement of admission guideline recognized by law, “and this is not the point system that is widely circulated in some media,” he explained.
Dr. Fabian maintained that the 2016 admissions would be conducted purely on the three existing admission pillars of merit, catchment area and educational less developed states.
First step is the presentation of the list of candidates who are qualified for screening into individual institutions based on the three stipulated criteria mentioned above, and the screening won’t be another test in any form, either written, oral or electronic.
After that, it is the presentation of the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) results/Advanced Level (AL) results for verification and clearing purposes. WAEC, NECO and NBTE results or its equivalent are acceptable as matriculation requirements. Each candidate is expected to have a minimum of five credits at SSCE including English, Mathematics and any other three relevant subjects to his or her discipline.
The Sun Education enquiries confirm that some universities, through radio and newspapers adverts, have commenced the process that would herald the for post-UTME screening exercise.