The 2021/2022 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) results released by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) have been nothing short of abysmal. According to the Board, 6,944,368 candidates sat for the examination. However, only 973,384 passed with scores to get into Nigerian tertiary institutions. This shows that only 14% passed while 86%, representing 5,970,984 students failed woefully.
In recent years, Nigeria has witnessed unimpressive performances from candidates that sat for UTME. However, this year’s result calls for concern and attention.
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, established in 1978 to conduct entrance examination and admit students to universities and other tertiary institutions, has faced multiple challenges and malpractices.
At some point in the Board’s history, it was not only rumored but also believed to be true that a candidate could get their desired marks by simply paying a substantial amount of money to certain officials and agents. During this period, the Computer-based Test (CBT) system had not been introduced and the examination was strictly by paper and pencil known as Paper-Pencil Test (PPT). The multiple cases of examination malpractices and impersonations that were recorded during this period eventually gave credence to the circulating rumors at the time.
One important aim of the Computer-based Test (CBT), introduced in 2013, is to curb the challenges faced by students during the course of the examinations. Biometric verifications soon took over from manual identification and students only had to be logged in to a computer to sit for the examination. This process created the opportunity for transparency and it also reduced the prevalence of ‘ghost and miracle centres.’
With the advent of the CBT, candidates were tasked with a greater responsibility of studying according to the official syllabus of each year released by the Board. Failure to do so could drastically reduce the chances of a brilliant performance.
This is why the Public Affairs and Protocol of JAMB, Fabian Benjamin, in a statement released on June 30, 2021 said: “The truth of the matter is that all Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) questions are based on texts prescribed for the UTME in its syllabus.”
“The Board ordinarily would not have reacted to the half-truth being peddled by some disgruntled candidates, who were ill-prepared for the examination and who, true to all expectations, performed below the expectations of their guardians, that the Board had based its questions on the wrong syllabus,” he continued.
He also said that, to ensure that its syllabus was accessible to all candidates sitting its examination, the Board made the material available on three platforms.
The platforms are the Board’s Integrated Brochure and Syllabus System (IBASS); the CD, which was given to candidates after completion of registration; and the link https://www.ibass.jamb.gov.ng. as provided with the candidates’ profile code.
A 200-level student of Theatre Arts from the University of Lagos, Akoka identified as Anita told Information Nigeria that her sibling and friend who both sat for the 2021 UTME got access to the syllabus but did not take studying seriously.
“You know how we students are. We say it’s not our fault when we fail but will want to claim the glory when we pass. The claims that the questions were not from this year’s syllabus are false. I might not be speaking for everybody but for the one I am aware of, the students did not study and prepare well,” she said.
She added: “My friend was always on Tiktok and only started reading the prescribed Literature texts two days to the examination. I guess she was expecting a miracle and miracles don’t work like that.”
A 2021 candidate simply identified as Faith told Information Nigeria that she experienced some challenges while using the computer during the examination.
“The computer was going off throughout the examination. It really disturbed me and affected my performance. I wasn’t the only one facing this issue in the hall. We were many like that and we didn’t understand why the computers were not functioning properly,” she said.
“I doubt that some of us even finished, with the way the computers were going off and giving us problems. I did not finish mine. I was really affected by that. Even if you prepared well for the examination, that situation could totally throw you off balance,” she continued.
Meanwhile, JAMB registrar Ishaq Oloyede said on July 5 that the coronavirus pandemic should be blamed for the poor performance of candidates. Speaking during an interview on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Professor Oloyede said that the pandemic affected the smooth running of the academic calendar.
He also stated that this year’s UTME results were poorer than those of three years. “All informed education experts understand why we recorded a lot of failures this time around. They knew the point at which we were in the academic calendar before the examination was taken in 2020 and in 2021,” he said.
He further affirmed:
“The students had gone far in their syllabus last year before they took the examination. But this year, they suffered incomplete academic sessions. These candidates had to cope with emergency online lessons with many other disturbing factors like insecurity, so we shouldn’t have expected that the results will come out unaffected by these.”
“Students are not ready to study and read hard anymore. There are many more distractions now than during our time. You see them on their phones spending hours on Tiktok, Triller, Instagram and the likes,” English Teacher, Ms Esther tells Information Nigeria.
“Even under intensive coaching, their attention is divided. If you ask them to buy a hardcover copy of a text, they’ll say ‘oh, but we can download the soft copy online.” How, pray tell, will you study successfully on a phone that has many distractions? It’s in these little things that some parents and guardians deem harmless.”
A candidate who simply identified himself as Emmanuel said:
“I prepared for the examination. I know I studied. I tried to do everything right. But I ended up scoring 172. The reason is that I also have to attend to my day job. I am sponsoring my education myself so shuttling between coaching classes and my place of work is not easy. I will try better next year.”