Saturday, 16 July 2016

Examining the merits of scrapping post-UTME

On June 2, at a com­bined policy meet­ing of stakehold­ers, the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, expressed views on whether or not there should be post-University Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME).
According to him, if there is confidence in conduct of UTME by Joint Admission and Matriculations Board (JAMB), there should be no need for post-UTME.
However, there have been discordant tunes even as majority of the stakehold­ers concur with the minister that post-UTME should be banned.
For the benefit of hind­sight, the Nigerian univer­sity system adopted post-UTME at stakeholders’ deliberations between 2005 and 2006 when Prof. Chin­we Obaje was the minister of education.
In view of news making round on whether or not the post-UTME will hold, the ministry has taken its deci­sion that there is a ban on it.
According to the minis­try, post-UTME has been banned and all institutions are expected to comply.
Mr Ben Goong, the Dep­uty Director, Press and Pub­lic Relations in the ministry, quoted Minister of Educa­tion Adamu Adamu as say­ing that the ban was with immediate effect and direct­ed all higher institutions to comply with the directive.
“The ban is with immedi­ate effect and under no cir­cumstance should any insti­tution violate the directive.
“The responsibility for ad­mission into public tertiary institutions lies solely with JAMB and under no circum­stance whatsoever, should anybody or institution take over that responsibility by proxy.
“For the avoidance of doubt, any educational in­stitution after secondary education is regarded as a tertiary institution.
“Therefore, all tertiary in­stitutions, polytechnics, col­leges of education, univer­sities or by whatever name it is called after secondary education, must be subject­ed to admission through the JAMB.’’
The minister, nonetheless, said that at the end of proba­tionary admission by JAMB, the candidates could be screened for final admission.
He also said that any in­stitution with a shortfall in admission could revert to JAMB for supplementary admission.
According to him, screen­ing in this case, entails only the verification of certificates of the candidates, JAMB scores and any other physi­cal examinations 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,’’ he said in a statement.
The minister noted that the clarification had become necessary to clear the doubt in some quarters regarding the real stance of the minis­ter.
He insisted that there had been no empirical evidence to show that since the incep­tion of post-UTME, univer­sities had been having better quality students.
He observed that students were still being expelled on a yearly basis for low perfor­mance even as they gained admission through post-UTME.
He said he was concerned about the plight of parents who spent fortunes on trans­portation and sundry costs just for their wards to gain admission into universities.
He further stated that the ministry was mindful of re­ported cases where some staff of tertiary institutions took advantage of the girl-child in her quest to gain ad­mission into the system.
He also directed the Na­tional Universities Com­mission and appropriate departments in the ministry to communicate the direc­tive to relevant agencies and institutions to ensure strict compliance.
“Those who have already advertised for the conduct of the post-UTME under any guise should stop the exercise immediately as any university caught conduct­ing post-UTME will face ap­propriate sanctions.
“If any tertiary institution has already conducted post-UTME, such an exercise stands annulled and money taken from such candidates must be refunded immedi­ately, the minister said.
Supporting the minister, a rights group, Stand Up Ni­geria, said the directive of the Federal Government to scrap the post-UMTE was a boost to the anti-corruption fight in the education sector.
The group’s Secretary-General, Mr Sunday Attah, described the post-UMTE as an exploitative practice to extort admission seekers under the guise of screening them for competence.
He said the examination was also a loophole for cor­ruption that allowed tertiary institution staff to admit pre­ferred candidates.
“We, therefore, see the scrapping of this controver­sial examination as a boost to the anti-corruption fight in the education sector as it will end the generation of revenue that does not get to the government coffers,’’ he said.
Attah also commended the Registrar of JAMB, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde and his team, for bringing about the change that restored the credibility of the examina­tion body.
“We all know the state JAMB was in before Prof. Ojerinde stepped in to re­vamp and reposition the place.
“Today, the confidence of the government is such that it was able to argue that there should be no need for uni­versities to conduct internal examinations to determine the fate of candidates seek­ing admissions because of the absolute confidence in JAMB.
“The minister of educa­tion also confirmed that JAMB has built a level of confidence in terms of con­ducting the UTME.
“We know that those who favour the post-UMTE test will soon mount a campaign for its sustenance or reintro­duction.
“The influential parents who must manipulate the admission process for their children, owners of miracle examination centres, admis­sion racketeering cabals in tertiary institutions are a few of those that we know will put pressure on the authori­ties to reverse this laudable directive.
“But we want to put them on notice that Nigerians will not accept a return to writing post-UMTE test,’’ he said.
Sharing similar senti­ments, the National Asso­ciation of Nigerian Students (NANS) said it was in full support of the minister.
NANS’s National Presi­dent, Mr Tijani Shehu, said that another examination after UTME amounted to exploitation.
“We are totally behind the minister on this; we also sup­port the directive that any institution that has already conducted post-UTME should refund the monies to the candidates,’’ he said.
In his view, an education­ist, Mr Godfrey James, said that the argument by pro­ponents of post-UTME that it was used to weed out in­competent candidates was unfounded.
He said that barring any irregularity, any student that had passed UTME was good enough for any Nigerian university.
According to James, the Federal Government should sustain the efforts aimed at increasing access and ex­panding the tertiary educa­tion system to reduce the pressure on the limited available admission spaces.
In the light of this, the minister’s decision is gain­ing increasing acceptance among stakeholders as mo­dalities are fine-tuned.
Further to this, stakehold­ers drawn from universities, polytechnics and colleges of education have been deliber­ating on the new policy with a view to working out mo­dalities for screening candi­dates for admission.
According to the Associa­tion of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, it will formally convey its stance to Adamu.
All in all, observers insist that multiple entry exami­nations are not to the best interest of Nigerian students and their parents and that the ban on post-UTME is in order. (NAN Features).

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