JAMB cut-off mark, unacceptable, appalling – Former Education Minister

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Reactions have continued to trail the recent criteria announced by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) for the admission of candidates into tertiary institutions for the 2017/2018 academic session. Newsmen report that Prof Is’haq Oloyede, Registrar of the board, had announced 120 marks in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) as minimum for placements into universities.

He made the announcement at the end of a recent policy meeting with heads of tertiary institutions across the country. Oloyede also said that 100 marks in the UTME was minimum score for candidates seeking placement into the country’s Polytechnics and Colleges of Education respectively.

He announced 110 as minimum score for candidates seeking admission into the Innovative Enterprise Institutions (IEI). The criteria have continued to generate divergent views from various sectors of the society, with many saying it will have a negative effect on the education standard in the country. A former Education Minister, Prof. Nora Obaji, told newsmen on Monday that the cut off marks were “unacceptable“. “This cut-off thing for the various sections of our institutions of higher learning, I will describe, as rather appalling.

“It is not encouraging and I will dare say it is unacceptable. “I mean, what are we really looking out for in this country, quality or quantity? “If we, as a nation, are striving to improve on our developmental strides and be relevant among comity of nations, one thing we must learn to take seriously, then, should be our quality of education at all levels. “Take for instance, our Colleges of Education, a place that is supposed to train and produce future teachers that will teach at our primary education level that should be the bedrock or foundation of learning, admitting people with 25 per cent obtained from an entrance examination.

“What quality are we anticipating to see from such teachers, and that is why I asked if what we need in this country is quantity rather than quality,” Obaji said. The ex-minister said for the country to move forward, it must insist on quality of students and graduates and be sure of their capabilities. She said that there was nowhere in the world where 25 per cent was being considered as pass mark, as was set as requisite minimum qualification mark for Polytechnics and Colleges of Education by JAMB.

“I feel worried because it seemed the respective administrative heads of institutions present at that policy meeting could not say anything during such announcement to kick against the decision. “I expected them to know better and speak out when such decision was reached, especially as we are in the era of democracy. “Be that as it may, it is a good thing that individual institutions have been given the go ahead to conduct post-examination screening to select candidates of their choice.

“I therefore want to implore administrators of these institutions to ensure that only candidates that are credible are admitted during the screening. “They should ease out those not qualified, irrespective of whose children they are, or where such children are coming from,” Obaji said. Another stakeholder, Prof. Chiedu Mafiana, a lecturer with National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), told NAN on telephone that the cut-off marks were ridiculous and would do the system no good. “I was not in that meeting and may not have all the facts on how they arrived at such grades.

“Yes, it is true that the responsibility of admitting students rests solely with the universities and what I find not quite right is setting cut-off marks for university by JAMB. “I think it ought to be right if these institutions were given the opportunity to set what they deem fit as their cut-off marks. “All JAMB would have concerned itself with was to just announce results of the test it conducted,” he said. Mafiana said it was ridiculous for JAMB to have taken it upon itself to fix such cut-off marks.

“They may have their reasons but one would have also expected that the various heads of administration of these institutions would have been courageous enough to say yes, even though government has set cut off marks, we will take our own decisions. “So, I expect universities to be courageous enough and come up with their respective take on how they intend doing their own selection without going below acceptable standards. “This is the time for universities to show how they intend to uphold the much needed quality assurance in our system,” Mafiana said.

The National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), also said that such cut-off was not a good omen for the already troubled sector. According to the 2nd Deputy National President of the association, Chief Adeolu Ogunbanjo, the sector has, in the recent past, been plagued by various challenges. He said these range from poor funding to examination malpractice, poor facilities and a host of others.

“Going to peg cut-off marks at 120 for universities and 100 for Polytechnics and Colleges of Education will further bring down the quality of graduates that would be produced,’’ Ogunbanjo said. He said one would have ordinarily expected that the cut-off marks ought to have been pegged at a minimum of 160 for the universities and 150 for the polytechnics and Colleges of Education. NAN

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