Ezekwesili: JAMB’s Lowering of Cut-off Marks Will Undermine Standards


• Body no longer useful, says Adeniyi

By Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

Former Minister of Education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, has said the decision of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to peg this year’s cut-off mark for admission into universities in the country to as low as 120 would worsen the already poor standard of education.

She described the measure as that of “running a race from top to bottom.”

Similarly, the Chairman of the Editorial Board of THISDAY Newspapers, Mr. Segun Adeniyi, who also reacted to the controversial JAMB cut-off mark during a Teens Career Conference’ organised at the weekend by ‘The Everlasting Arms Parish (TEAP) of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG)’, Garki in Abuja,  urged the government to scrap the examination board as it is no longer useful.

Ezekweseli, who spoke in an interview with journalists at the weekend, said the examination body had outlived the purpose for which it was established. 

According to the former minister, rather than conduct entrance examination for university admission, JAMB should only play a regulatory role while universities are granted autonomy to conduct their entrance examinations to determine the quality of students they want to admit.

“I will say no and there has to be much more intensity in determining what the qualification should be, and once we do that, it will set us way back to early child education. When I see society screaming about this cut-off mark they have done, I say you are wasting tears on a symptom. 

“You need to go to the root of the problem, and that means we need to go back to the first phase in education, which is early child care, basic education and secondary education which ultimately determine the readiness of our children to university education,” she said.

The former minister said the idea of establishing JAMB was that the government wanted to find a means of equalising standards under a federal system to ensure that you set the bar in a way that brings in everybody. 

She said rather than attempting to lower standards at the tertiary level of education, the federal governments should take steps to correct the anomaly in the early stages education.

“What you then have to look at is, does it continue to be relevant as a standard setting mechanism to actually determine who gets to what university and how? I would say not anymore. 

“What we need to do not is to make the role of JAMB an examination regulatory body and to grant the universities the kind of autonomy that would enable them determine the kind of students they want in their universities and the level of academic achievement that they must have to enter their universities and to do in such a way that you do not identify mediocrity. 

Meanwhile, JAMB has described as unnecessary the controversies over the reduction of the cut-off marks for 2017 admission exercise into tertiary institutions by stakeholders at its policy meeting.

The  Head of Media and Public Relations, JAMB, Dr. Fabian Benjamin, in a statement yesterday, said despite the criticisms, the organisation would not lose focus.

Benjamin said rather than criticisms, Nigerians should be concerned about how to address the flight of citizens in glorified secondary schools called foreign universities in places like country Ghana, Uganda, Gambia and others.

He stated that the board had repeatedly emphasised that despite the reduction of cut-off points from 180 for universities and 165 polytechnics, to now 120 and 100 respectively for the 2017 Unified Tertiary Matriculations Examination (UTME), institutions were not under compulsion to accept that as their benchmarks for admission.

The spokesman lamented that  despite all the explanations, critics have continued to dwell on it, fuelling insinuations that they may have been paid to do a hatchet job against JAMB.