After almost four decades of its existence, the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) is yet to perfect how to conduct matriculation exam into our universities and other higher institutions. The latest Universal Tertiary Matriculation Exam (UTME) by the board was characterised by widespread cheating by candidates who were reportedly aided in some instances by their parents and invigilators. Apart from some several cases of impersonation, some candidates were even said to havve brought into the examination hall, mobile phones through which answers were sent to them through text messages. Some candidates were also reported to have made T-shirts with answers to anticipated questions printed on the sleeves. This is a criminal improvement on the “mmagic sleepers” worn by candidates to examination halls not too long ago, on which prepared answers sheets were neatly sandwiched.
More alarming was the revelation by the JAMB Registrar, Professor Dibu Ojerinde, that in 40 examination centres, some candidates paid between N5,000 and N20,000 to be allowed to cheat, and that the results of 78,310 candidates from various centres were undergoing screening to ascertain their cupability in malpractices, while 12,110 candidates’ results were being witheld for possible disciplinary action.
The revelation that the board recorded 40,692 invalid results due to multiple shading of answer sheets or no shading at all, is also an indication that candidates may not have been sufficiently informed on how tto fill the answer sheets or they were incapable of reading instructions. Whichever is the case, it is a sad commentary on the conduct of examination by the board.
The massive failure recorded in the examination also showed how long the standard of education has become as only 10 candidates scored above 300 marks, while 801,804 scored below 200. This massive failure recorded is unarguably because students, rather than burn the proverbial midnight candle, now prefer to exploit the lapses in JAMB examinations by relying on the purchase of prepared examination questions and answers.
There were also complaints that several of the candidates who sat for the examination were forced to use computers even though many of them who attended public schools were seeing computers for the first time. Many of those candidates alleged that they had choosen the pencil-paper-test (PPT) but, they were made to take computer-based-test (CBT) at their centres.
Apart from all these, the massive rip-off of candidates who purchased JAMB forms, sat for the examination and passed but were unable to secure admission into any of the higher institutions of learning in another matter of concern. For instance, of the 1,735,720 candidates who sat for the last JAMB examination, only 520,000 candidates would be admitted into higher institutions, leaving over 1.2 million out in the cold. This is because 520,000 is the carrying capacity of all tertiary institutions, including colleges of education. That is. Even an improvement from the 450,000 that was the carrying capacity two years ago.
Even worst is the fact that inspite of the huge cost of conducting JAMB examinatins, UTME result does not even secure any candidate admission into university. That function now is being undertaken by the candidate’s university of choice. This is the underlining basis of the ongoing debate on the relevance and desirability of JAMB in the universities and other terrtiary institutions.
We therefore call on policy makers to go back on drawing board and address the lapses identified in its conduct in its conduct of examinations, sanction the officials that have been found to betray the trust reposed in them, and urgently resolve the debate on the relevance of JAMB in the universities and tertiary institution of learning and admission process.