Stakeholders berate JAMB, varsities, others
Will monotechnics, CoAs, VEIs, others rescue them?
BY IKENNA ASOMBA
THE 2014 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, (UTME) conducted by the the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, (JAMB) which commenced on April 12 and ended on May 31, has come and gone, but one recurring problem is that of the 1,606, 753 million admission seekers, about 1.2 million candidates will fail to gain admission, leaving a little above 500,000 (35 per cent) being admitted into the nation’s higher institutions.
Even after crossing the post-UTME and screening exercises by universities, polytechnics and Colleges of Education (CoE), the increasing number of unsuccessful applicants is worrisome. 351,232 disqualified: To be qualified to sit for post-UTME, an applicant must score at least 180 in the UTME and a minimum of 150 to be qualified to sit for screening examinations conducted by polytechnics and CoEs.
Unfortunately, in the just-concluded 2014 UTME, Vanguard Learning (VL) gathered that 351,232 applicants are already disqualified from sitting for screening exams owing to failure to meet the minimum 150 score, invalid results and absenteeism.
While over 277,753 applicants are already disqualified because they did not meet the 150 average score, 36,164 applicants had invalid results, 37,315 were absent during the PPT and DBT exams, even as 2,494 applicants still have their fate hanging in the balance as their results are currently withheld for further scrutiny by JAMB.
922, 247 locked out: Owing to poor carrying-capacity of the nation’s tertiary institutions, VL gathered that over 922,247 applicants may not be admitted this year. The average Nigerian university has a carrying capacity of 4,500.
268 over-subscribed schools: This situation, stakeholders have argued, is worrisome as admission seekers have to jostle for 268 tertiary institutions where UTME is a pre-requisite. There are 128 accredited universities, 77 polytechnics, and over 63 CoEs across the country.
Of the 128 universities, 40 are federal-owned, 38 state-owned and 50 are privately-owned. There are also 21 federal-owned polytechnics, 38 state-owned and 18 privately-owned.
213 poorly subscribed schools:
However, across the country, there are over 213 higher institutions, which do not require JAMB UTME, as a pre-requisite for one to apply. VL gathered that these institutions are poorly subscribed yearly by admission seekers for two major reasons. One, is the little or no publicity employed by their various authorities. Two, what many have described as the long-aged dichotomy placed by policymakers between universities and other higher institutions.
These institutions are Colleges of Agriculture (CoAs), Colleges of Health Technology and Allied Institutions (CoHTAIs), Monotechnics, Vocational Enterprise Institutions (VEIs) and Innovation Enterprise Institutions (IEIs).
Unknown to many admission seekers, there are over 36 accredited CoAs in Nigeria. While 17 are federal-owned, 19 are state-owned. There are over 51 CoHTAIs. Federal-owned (10), state-owned (40) and privately-owned (1). Also, there are over 27 accredited monotechnics in Nigeria. Federal-owned (23), state-owned (2) and privately-owned (2). There are over 99 accredited VEI and IEI centres in Nigeria.
In a bid to increase access to university education, the current administration of President Goodluck Jonathan since 2011, has established 11 new universities across the six geo-political zones. With a carrying capacity of 500 students annually, stakeholders have argued that it has become imperative for a total overhauling of the nation’s higher education system.
This they said, is to ameliorate the frustration millions of admission seekers go through annually. Describing the current trend where an army of admission seekers are yearly shut out from gaining access to tertiary education as abysmal, Dotun Sodunke, Ag. President, Association of Tutorial School Operators, ATSO and Mark Okoh, Principal, Caro Favoured College, Lagos, argued that if left unaddressed, the future is bleak for millions of youths.
Sodunke said: “It is unfortunate that is what Nigerian education policymakers have made entry into tertiary institutions become. It’s now survival of the fittest, that you will even see parents who are pastors looking for expo for their children. They will say ‘God, you won’t be angry with me for this one.’ Yes, if they don’t, their children will continue to remain at home and an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.
“In fact, President Jonathan must stop funding universities in the geo-political zones. Sometime ago, I took my students to Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State for post-UTME; there was no structure there so the students were taken to another state university to take the exam. They are still admitting 500 candidates. How can a whole federal university admit 500 people out of the millions of candidates?
“If Jonathan had consulted professionals like us who are on the field, not politicians who want to make money, the money that was spent in providing new varsities would have been invested on infrastructure in the existing ones, thereby opening their admission spaces. I am not saying new varsities are not good, but what I’m saying is fund the existing ones, let them be able to admit at full capacity.
“Rather than building new federal universities without adequate funding for infrastructure and manpower, the Federal Government in conjunction with state governments should adequately fund the existing universities in order to provide them with adequate manpower and infrastructure to avert congestion.”
Expressing worry over the poor carrying capacities of universities, the Registrar and Chief Executive of JAMB, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde just before the 2014 UTME, said out of a total of 1,735,892 candidates that registered for the 2013 UTME, only 35 per cent were given provisional admission into public universities, lamenting that federal universities have not admitted up to 50 per cent of their carrying capacity.
He threatened to expose universities that waste scarce spaces saying: “Spaces are there but the universities have refused to take students and they are funded yearly. Government has opened up access and so why are they not doing the right thing? There is no pass or fail dichotomy in JAMB as everyone can be admitted if they have the pre-requisites.”
Decrying the horrible experiences admission seekers face annually, JAMB, universities, polytechnics and CoEs, have been picked on for allegedly being insensitive to the plights of millions of secondary school leavers and their parents. In its plenary on July 11, 2013, the House of Representatives said JAMB had over the last three years, generated over N21 billion from sale of forms to candidates seeking admission into the nation’s tertiary institutions despite getting an appropriation of over N6 billion from the national budget within the same period.
In a motion moved on the matter, Ibrahim Ebbo said: “In 2011, 1,493,604 candidates bought forms and sat for the UTME organised by the board at the cost of N4, 600 per candidate, translating to a total of N6,870,400, while it got an appropriation of N2,021,235,070 in the national budget.
“Similarly, 1.5 million candidates sat for the UTME in 2012, amounting to N6.9 million generated through sale of forms, and 1, 644, 110 sat in 2013 and N7, 562, 906, 000 generated through sale of forms while the Board got N2, 370, 273, 304 and N2, 377,3 97, 191 for the two years respectively.”
Meanwhile, this year, aside the revenue running into millions of naira it will get from sale of change of institution and course scratch cards, as well as JAMB e-Bundle scratch cards which enables admitted candidates to print their original notification of results, VL investigation reveals that the apex exam body will officially realise N7, 219,414,800 from sale of UTME forms and another N2,354,157,000 from sale of result checker scratch cards, despite getting an appropriation of N2,557, 641,149 according to the 2014 Federal Government Budget Proposal of the Federal Ministry of Education.
Further investigation reveals that the body has a total personnel cost of N2,452,254,545; total overhead cost of N80,319, 604; total recurrent cost of N2, 532,574,149 and total capital cost of N25,067,000.
JAMB has come under attack over the N1,500 it charged applicants for scratch card to enable them access examination results. Reacting, some parents and guardians in Plateau State described the N1,500 as ‘very exorbitant.’ Speaking to journalists in Jos, Pankshin and other towns in the state, parents accused the exam body of extorting money from students and parents with all manner of charges.
“The charges are strange. Last year, we used the JAMB registration number to check the scores. We were not expecting something different this year,” Mr Gotong Nanman, a parent told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Pankshin. He said he was very surprised when his niece brought the request to him, and said that JAMB was not sensitive to the harsh realities facing poor Nigerians.
He recalled that he spent N5,000 to purchase the JAMB form, and another N1,500 was a huge burden, especially since there was mass failure this year. Another parent, Mr. Danjuma Dumak, argued that JAMB was making billions of naira since more than one million candidates sat for the exam.
He urged the Federal Government to intervene to save poor people from such pain since many parents had consistently paid for the exams in the last five years. “The National Assembly should also ask JAMB to explain what is happening. They (lawmakers) represent us and should intervene in this matter,” he said.
Meanwhile, JAMB’s Head of Public Relations, Mr. Fabian Benjamin, had earlier said that parents who complained about the board’s charge of N1,500 for result checkers were doing that out of ignorance.
“Many of them are not aware of the activities of the board; we are trying so hard to reduce the cost of this examination.”
“If we are to charge according to the services we render, each candidate will pay nothing less than N10, 000 but government has consistently subsidized the services and that is why the registration form costs only N4,000.”