The earlier JAMB hands off UTME, the better for everybody

UTME-candidates-360x225If anyone was ever in doubt as to what should be done with the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination  conducted every year for candidates seeking university education in Nigeria, events of last Saturday should be enough to convince  doubting Thomases that has long overstayed its usefulness.

The high level of cheating in that exam was unprecedented. Unfortunately, security personnel and officials of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board who were supposed to apprehend candidates engaged in exam malpractices were the ones aiding and abetting what they were engaged to control.  It was so bad that young candidates writing the exam for the first time were shocked beyond imagination.

Candidates waited patiently for mercenaries specially employed to help in writing the exam. Some got answers as text messages directly on their mobile phones.  This is not to say that everybody was involved. A large number of candidates still did the right thing in that they neither cheated nor sought help from anybody.

In some centres, security operatives assisted candidates to smuggle their phones to exam halls despite the ban placed on such items in exam halls. Candidates paid as little as N200 to bribe security personnel and invigilators. It was really bad.

Many candidates were just too desperate. They have a reason to be.   Out of the over 1.7 million candidates that sat for the , only 500,000 will eventually be admitted to university, according  to Nigeria’s Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayat  Rufai,.

But going by these developments, the purpose of sitting for has been defeated. Or how do you describe an exam that is not producing candidates that are truly qualified?  Each university would still need to administer its own test to get the good ones.

What is the point of sitting for an exam that will not be the true test of a candidate’s intelligence at the end of the day?  Whether we like it or not, some of these poor candidates will escape and find their way to the university. They are not likely to do well there. They are the ones that will make university environment hostile to other serious students and members of the academic community.  They are the ones that will join cult groups and threaten lecturers to either give them marks or risk their lives.

It is high time universities were allowed to select their candidates in line with global standard. Can you imagine Oxford, Cambridge or Yale relying on an external body to decide for them the candidates to be admitted?  Universities should be able to take decision on who they want to admit based on their own criteria which should be transparent, fair and objective.

Some people argue that admission may be done on cash and carry basis if it is left completely in the hands of universities thus making poor students to be at a disadvantage.  This is possible but a transparent process and effective monitoring will curb this.  Besides universities can’t afford to compromise their standard for too long as any wishy-washy admission process will produce weak and poor graduates that will ultimately negatively affect the rating of the university concerned.

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Any   university known for admitting wrong candidates will have serious image problem and won’t be able to compete globally.  Sincerely, the earlier hands off , the better it is going to be for everybody.

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