Fail JAMB, Get University Admission!

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The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board has got its sums badly wrong. The nation will pay dearly for the mistake if allowed to stand

We stand with the founder of Afe Babalola University Ado Ekiti, Chief Afe Babalola, SAN, that the reduction of the cut-off mark to 30 per cent for admission into universities and 25 percent for polytechnics, monotechnics and colleges of education for the 2017/2018 academic session in Nigeria is unacceptable. Any environment within which such a policy can be conceived and rationalised as the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) authorities are doing is in dire need of total overhaul.

JAMB had last Tuesday announced the reduction of cut-off marks for candidates seeking admission into Nigerian universities to 120 and 100 for polytechnics and colleges of education in the country. But Babalola has raised several posers: “What is the whole essence of reducing cut-off marks for admission to as low as 120 for universities and 100 for polytechnics, monotechnics and colleges of education? Will such an action enhance or reduce the quality of education? Will it give international recognition to the degrees awarded by the Nigerian universities which, in any case, are already being questioned? Is the reduction a deliberate ploy to make things worse?”

There are even more pertinent questions. Against the background that the standards of tertiary education in Nigeria are already abysmally low, why should they be further lowered? What will then happen when the 30 percent entry point graduates enter the labour market?

It is a shame that at a time we should be raising the entry level in order to raise standards, the authorities in the sector are bent on imposing mediocrity on the country while further lowering the reputation of Nigerian certificates in foreign universities. It is all the more unfortunate that this is coming at a period countries like India, Japan, China, Singapore, the UnitedKingdom, the United States, Ghana and South Africa, etc., are consciously raising admission requirements to retain competitive edge.

However, with critical stakeholders in the education project already kicking against the idea, we hope sanity will prevail, especially when the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) argues that this is part of the plot by the current administration to destroy public education in Nigeria. “Scoring 120 out of 400 marks is 30 percent. Even in those days, 40 per cent was graded as pass. JAMB has now said with F9, which is scoring 30 per cent, you can be admitted. Even for polytechnics, a mark of 100 is 25 percent. They want to destroy public education at all cost,” said Dr Deji Omole, the ASUU Chairman, University of Ibadan.

Today, no Nigerian university is ranked; and that is only half the story. Many of the graduates are barely literate. Many ofthe functionally literate ones are uncreative and unproductive. The corporate labour market shuns them. Therefore, the Minister of Education and the Registrar of JAMB, a body that has outlived its usefulness, should be summoned by the National Assembly to explain the rationale behind this curious policy twist.

While serious nations are seeing higher education standards as part of the heated contest for development and leading edge in every discipline, Nigerian authorities are doing the contrary. With a policy that prescribes 30 percent cut off mark for admission into Nigerian Universities, the authorities are merely compounding the problem for these institutions. For instance, in 2011, the United Kingdom General Medical Council (GMC) banned medical graduates from nine universities in Nigeria from obtaining licences to practice in their country because they no longer met the required standards to practice. What this policy will do is to give justification as to why degrees from Nigeria are of low standards.

As we have often argued on this page, granting autonomy to universities and other institutions of higher learning in our country is imperative. And it must begin with their powers to be able to admit the best, not the worst as now being prescribed. But to the extent that JAMB has proved to be a clog in that respect, we see no reason why the body should be allowed to continue to make mockery of tertiary education in Nigeria.

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It is a shame that at a time we should be raising the entry level in order to raise standards, the authorities in the sector are bent on imposing mediocrity on the country while further lowering the reputation of Nigerian certificates in foreign universities