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).