May 16, 2024

UTME: Mass failure and yearly peculiarities

Onuesoke calls for scrapping of JAMB

By Adesina Wahab 

The Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME, is conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, for candidates seeking admission to tertiary institutions in Nigeria. This year’s exam was conducted from April 19 to 26, within and outside the country.

While 1,989,668 candidates registered for the examination, 80, 810 candidates were absent, leaving a total of 1,904, 189 candidates to write it.

Mass failure

According to the JAMB Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, 1,402,490 candidates scored below 200 out of the possible 400 marks.

That is a whopping 76 per cent of the candidates not scoring up to 50 per cent of the marks. Reactions have trailed this and many factors adduced for the development. Parents, teachers, schools, the candidates and even the society at large being fingered as the culprits. 

Despite the general poor performance, 8,401 candidates scored 300 and above; 77,070 scored 250 and above; 439,974 scored 200 and above.

Malpractice and hiccups 

While the Board has been innovative in ensuring the fidelity of the examination, introducing steps yearly in that regard, 74 persons were caught engaging in unwholesome acts during the exam, including a father who wanted to write it for his son. The development led to the results of 64,624 candidates being withheld. 

Conducted in 118 examination towns and in 774 centres, 25 sessions experienced hiccups, while one centre, Makama School of Technology, Old Motor Park, Along FCCE (T) Road, Bichi, Kano State, was delisted for substandard performance.

Checking results and its problems

JAMB advised candidates to check their results by texting RESULT to 55019/66019, using the phone numbers they used to register. 

However, some candidates are having difficulties accessing their results. Some have lost the SIM cards with which they registered and are having issues recovering such. Some used the SIM of other people to register and are not having access to such. The cost of N50 per attempt is also prohibitive. The innovation by the Board that candidates would not be able to print out their results like it was in the past, drew mixed feelings. 

Highest scorer problem

Oloyede said JAMB would not give names of the top scorers, given that it considers its UTME as only a ranking examination. He said the Board would not want a repeat of last year’s brouhaha over who scored the highest mark, but advised that people and bodies should cross check whatever result anybody presents to them for verification.

Admission age limit

While most universities in the country accept candidates who are 16 years and above, the issue of the appropriate age for admission has continued to linger. Oloyede, a former University of Ilorin Vice-Chancellor, said some parents were procuring underhand admission for their children, sending their underage children to early-childhood schools, registering them for First School Leaving Certificate Examination in Primary Five as against Primary Six, as well as hurrying them to take the Senior School Certificate Examination at SS2 or age 14. 

The Minister of Education, Prof. Mamman Tahir, echoed the same thing when he said the Federal Government would peg the age of admission at 18.

Making the exam better

The Board should continue its efforts at making the conduct of the exam better. One major area that candidates and parents are clamouring for a review is in scheduling exam for 6am. In most towns and cities, moving from one place to the other is not easy.

Also, security concern does not allow people to leave home early or return home late. The first paper could be fixed for 8am.

Innovations like this year’s decision to send text message to dedicated lines to access results should have been made known to candidates while registering. Some are unable to access their results because of lost SIM cards. 

Vanguard News

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