JAMB admission policy and matters arising

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The Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) says it will begin 2016 UTME full season on Feb. 29 and it will last for seven days.

Apart from Nigeria, the examination will hold in other centres located in United Kingdom, Ghana, Cameroon, Republic of Benin, Saudi Arabia, South and Ethiopia.

In view of the large number of candidates seeking universities’ admission yearly, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, Registrar, JAMB, assured the public that the board had taken note of the ever increasing population of UTME candidates.

He observed that while the carrying capacities of all tertiary institutions in Nigeria was less than 800, 000, no fewer than 1.4 million candidates sat for the examination in 2015.

He said the situation presented the option of re-assigning qualified candidates of UTME to other institutions as a way of proffering solution to admission challenges.

He recalled that the board approved 180 points as qualification for admission into degree programmes and 150 points for National Certificate in Education and National Diploma.

Irrespective of this, Dr Fabian Benjamin, Head of Public Relations of the board, said that institutions were allowed to go above the cut-off points.

“A university, depending on its peculiarities, raise its cut-off mark above the national recommendation of 180 points.

“The idea is to assist the re-assign candidates to have better chances of securing admission to universities,’’ he said.

He stated that the decision of JAMB to re-assign qualified candidates to other institutions was in good faith and not to jeopardise the rights of candidates.

Benjamin stated that candidates who did not meet the cut-off marks of their chosen universities would be placed in needy institutions within their geopolitical zones, depending on the available space in such institutions.

“The aim is to accommodate as many candidates as possible, instead of just pushing them to schools we know do not have the carrying capacity to admit all candidates that applied to such institutions,’’ he said.

For the benefit of hindsight, JAMB introduced Computer-Based Test (CBT) to replace the traditional Paper Pencil Test (PPT).[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”70560″]

Pundits, however, observed that when the board gave consideration to the idea of migrating from PPT to CBT six years ago, the proposal elicited criticisms.

The arguments of the cynics of the proposal notwithstanding, JAMB emphasised that CBT would engender a seamless conduct of UMTE.

Ojerinde insisted that CBT would solve security challenges, examining examination malpractices, high cost of producing writing materials for PPT and cost of transporting materials, among others.

Further to his explanation, the board adopted the CBT for the conduct of UMTE across the country between March 10, 2015 and March 21, 2015 and the public commended the initiative.

In his view, Mr Samuel Akanbi, an analyst, noted that CBT demonstrated Nigeria’s relevance in the digital world of the 21st Century.

He stated that although critics had argued that efforts to educate candidates who were not computer-literate had been inadequate, there was the need for improvement on methods of exposing more candidates to computer literacy.

“Though the adoption of CBT placed candidates in the rural areas with limited access to computers and internet at a gross disadvantage, Nigeria must join the digital age movement,’’ he said.

According to him, with the trend, only few candidates will be lacking in computer skills by the next UMTE.

Commending the board for introducing CBT, Mr Shola Adeboye, a publisher, observed that in the past, candidates stayed for months to get UTME results but with the CBT, the results would be announced in less than 24 hours after the examination.

He called on JAMB to facilitate the provision of computer and internet across the country to reduce the distance which a candidate had to travel to get to his or her centre.

Corroborating Adeboye, Ojerinde noted that on the first day of the examination, majority of the candidates got their results before the end of the day.

He stated that the visually impaired candidates wrote the examination using the Braille Note Apex — a special machine which enabled visually impaired persons to read and answer questions via voice or Braille.

“We had 192 visually impaired candidates nationwide in 2015 but the concentration was in Lagos. We had no fewer than 15 of them in Abuja. That was the first of its kind in this part of the world,’’ he said.

Ojerinde noted that the results so far indicated that candidates performed better in CBT than PPT.

He stated that more centres would soon be established, adding that the Federal had directed that eight new centres should be set up across the country, while four of them would be completed this year.

He said that each of the eight centres would be equipped with 270 computers and that the southern and northern parts of the country would get four centres each.

Further to this, the Senate, on Nov. 17, 2015, directed JAMB to extend the validity of its results to three years to reduce the number of applicants yearly.

“If the directive is effective, it means that results obtained from the board by candidates seeking admission into universities are expected to be valid for three years,’’ Mr Haruna Abdullahi, a journalist,’’ argued.

But Ojerinde said: “There are complexities in this thing, until we are able to clear it.

“When you say you will use JAMB results for three years, is it an achievement test or aptitude test?

“However, are we delaying his or her life? Are we postponing his or her by telling them to stay at home? ’’

The Senate also directed the board to stop its policy of re-assigning candidates to schools they never applied to, saying such policy was contrary to the act establishing the board.

Irrespective of directives, Abdullahi pleaded with the lawmakers to allow the board to evolve a credible admission process in 2016 without negative effects on the progress it has made so far.(NANFeatures)