Twenty-eight-year-old Oyinlola Adebisi sat for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination four times. In each of the four years, it was as if he intentionally saved money and wasted it. According to him, he got two good results but lost out during post-UTME because he could not meet the stipulated requirements of the varsities he chose
He stated, ‘’I sat for the UTME four times. It is becoming tough and frustrating. I think I should consider running a part-time programme to save myself the headache of purchasing another UTME form without being sure of what the result will be.’’
Adebisi, who also said he once gained an admission to a polytechnic, added that he later realised that he made a mistake by not accepting the offer because of his desire for university education.
Adebisi is not the only UTME candidate who is frustrated by his inability to gain admission to a university after taking the UTME for four years. There are some who sat for the examination many times but are yet to secure admission to study their preferred courses.
Some candidates, like Adebisi, also earned good scores only to ‘waste’ them because of failure to make the post-UTME cut-off points of their choice institutions. Besides, a candidate’s UTME result is only valid for a year.
The one-year validity of the UTME result is what the Committee on Social Sector in the ongoing National Conference has sought to address. The committee recommended that results obtained by candidates who take the UTME conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board should be valid for two years.
It also bemoaned a situation where over 1.5 million people jostle yearly for about 500,000 available spaces leaving over 1 million who are unable to secure admission because of low capacity of the institutions in the country.
The committee headed by a former Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Josephine Anenih, and former Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Rufa’i, as Deputy, was of the opinion that, “ The UTME result should last for two years to enable the candidates have another trial to secure admission.”
The committee also advised both the federal and state governments to increase their budgetary allocation to education to 26 per cent in line with the recommendation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
It stated, “Federal and state governments should continue to finance education through adequate annual budgetary provision of at least 26 per cent funding, release of budgeted funds as first line charge and ensure that funds released are spent with attention to prudence and value for money.”
The committee’s report expected to be debated at the conference plenary also bordered on the increase of the Consolidated Revenue Fund allocated to the Universal Basic Education Commission by the Federal Government from 2 per cent to 4 per cent. It further said the 2 per cent Education Tax Fund remitted to the Tertiary Education Trust Fund should be increased to 4 per cent.
The Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities, Enugu State University of Science and Technology branch, Prof. Gabriel Agwu, said recommending a two-year validity for UTME results would be lethargic to the education system.
He added that each year, candidates for external examination should adapt to new innovations introduced by the supervising body. Agwu stated, ‘‘Examinations are progressive. Are we saying candidates taking the UTME this year for example will be told to keep their results while those who sat for the examination earlier seek admission with old results?’’
A lecturer in the Department of Psychology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Prof. Oluwatoba Elegbeleye, said as an advocate of two-year validity for UTME results, he would be glad to see the committee’s recommendation come to fruition.
He also stated that UTME should be viewed from the perspective of aptitude test which candidates could use for future prospect.
Elegbeleye said, ‘’I always believe that candidates should be given the opportunity to use the UTME for more than a year. If new candidates for Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination have to contend with those having old SSSCE results during admission, there is nothing new in having candidates for UTME with fresh results seeking admission with those who sat for the examination a year earlier. The university wants to admit the best candidates every academic session because the market is wide. The UTME is modelled after a curriculum and every curriculum should be valid for more than a year.’’
Besides, the don frowned at what he described as extortion of candidates by external bodies in the guise of conducting examinations to prepare them for higher education.
On his part, Executive Secretary, Never Again Group, Ahmed Jaji, said the committee’s recommendation was controversial. He added that such a recommendation would not stand the test of time given the problems plaguing the education sector.
Jaji, who expressed his lack of confidence in the recommendations of the delegates in the ongoing national conference, urged them to discuss vital issues affecting the country such as unemployment, insecurity and so on.
‘’Education is at its lowest ebb in Nigeria at the moment. Most of our graduates are not employable. I don’t see how a candidate who obtained a UTME result fraudulently should have such a result valid for two years,’’ he said.
A postgraduate student in the University of Ibadan, Seun Oke, who lauded the recommendation, said it was important to tackle examination malpractice before recommending the validity of UTME results.
He added, ‘’I feel the genuine concern of members of the committee. It is a welcome development because many students are getting frustrated putting efforts into the UTME every year and not translating into admission. But I am of the opinion that the problems should be tackled from the foundation. There are many irregularities going on in the education sector. It is important to address them before we can proceed to the duration for the results because in the first instance some candidates obtain good grades in a dishonest style.’’
A candidate who took the last UTME, Damilola Adedapo, stated that apart from the recommendation for the validity of the results, the board should be assisted to ensure a smooth conduct of the computer-based examination every year.
Adedapo noted that candidates should be allowed to change their choice of institution twice as against only once granted upon the release of results.
The Registrar of JAMB, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, while releasing results of the examination held nationwide on April 12, said 315,401 candidates scored between 170 to 199 points, while 108,488 candidates scored between 200 to 249 points.
He added that it was the outcome of the Paper Pencil Test (PPT) and Dual Based Test (DBT) conducted in all the centres across the federation.
According to him, 990,179 applied for the PPT while 25,325 applied for the DBT, making a total of 1,015,504 applications for both modes of testing.
Ojerinde said the board invalidated 36,164 results and withheld 2,494 others with 37,315 absentees. (Punch)
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