The nation’s education system is not being optimally served by the examination body

The fiasco of the last entrance examinations for tertiary institutions organised by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) raises fundamental questions about the organisation`s raison d’etre. The examinations were, to put it mildly, most incompetently organised and supervised. The names of some candidates appeared in states they did not apply in; and to which some of them have never been. Marks were also jumbled with some candidates receiving results even before writing the examination.

So messy was the entire process that the authorities at JAMB have been accused of deploying the wrong software for marking the scripts. And to wit, JAMB has admitted some errors while pledging to take remedial actions. However, that may not only be too little, too late but also an indication of why the examination body can no longer justify its existence.

We recall that JAMB was established as a game-changing tool for keeping the Nigerian university and tertiary education system on the tipping edge of national development. The idea of a ‘joint’ admissions platform was conceived as one way of saving parents and applicants the avoidable expense of multiple applications to several tertiary institutions, complete with travelling long distances to take the qualifying examinations. It was also seen as a reliable source of statistics on the nation`s specialised human capital – to provide a one-glance update on the various skills set developed across several disciplines over the years. All these were planned in addition to helping to monitor and enforce the recommended 60/40 ratio for science and arts courses in our tertiary institutions. Finally, JAMB was part of a cocktail of measures designed to strengthen national unity through institutional means.

Unfortunately, the examinations body stands in bad light today, more because of its dwindling capacity over several decades than the recent entrance examinations blunder. The question therefore is whether JAMB is a success story when viewed against the background of the vision that led to its establishment. We fear that it is not. That is why its continued existence can no longer be justified. Indeed, the nation’s education system is not being optimally served by the organisation.

The cases against JAMB are just too many but the most egregious is that our tertiary institutions now organise further post-JAMB qualifying examinations to confirm the eligibility of successful candidates for final admission. This was not envisaged by the nation in drafting the laws setting up JAMB. In fact, post-JAMB entrance examinations are not only unlawful, they defeat the purpose for establishing JAMB. But to the extent that this ‘illegality’ now routinely override JAMB’s verdict on candidates, the latter’s relevance in determining who gets admitted into our tertiary institutions is then open to question.

If JAMB has become a mere pre-examination clearing house that ‘screens’ candidates for our tertiary institutions, should hapless Nigerians pay so much for such screening? Don’t our tertiary institutions have the capacity to do this? Why should JAMB costs be going up with greater ICT inputs, while the global trend is the reverse with the introduction of ICT?

As it is, parents and candidates spend much more, and largely because JAMB is content to live with the vote-of-no-confidence passed on it by everyone. So the pertinent question remains: what is actually the role of JAMB today when it does not determine who gets admitted, does not originate the data on tertiary education admissions and also has no meaningful role in its originally presumed mandate of being the imperator of access to tertiary education in Nigeria?

All factors considered, we believe it is time the federal government reviewed the role, relevance and continued existence of the JAMB. An examination body that charges so much for an ICT-enabled examination that cannot get one person admitted into any tertiary institution simply cannot be a tool for national development.

Quotes: What is actually the role of JAMB today when it does not determine who gets admitted, does not originate the data on tertiary education admissions and also has no meaningful role in its originally presumed mandate of being the imperator of access to tertiary education in Nigeria?