Oluwakorede Asuni

JAMB is 30, will she survive another thirty?

A few days ago the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) the examination body conducting entry examinations into tertiary institutions in Nigeria (except for the NDA-Nigeria Defence Academy) struck thirty years. Thirty years of mixed achievements.

In the thirty years of her existence she had moved from organising the most ‘cheated in’ tests to one that is most feared by students and parents and wished by many to go away.

I don’t have access to a TV here in Minna and I am sure to have missed the pomp and pageantry at the celebrations which must have taken the dimensions of a national celebration. But I witnessed the sensitization campaign part of the activities marking the institution’s anniversary when the Minna train hit my school, Government Secondary School, Minna.  Led by her state Director Mallam A. G. Abubakar, the team enjoined students to prepare well for the exams stressing that the tests were designed to be passed, and all went well until the director and his train struck a low point by declaring of the one million plus expected to write the Universities Matriculation Exam this year only a tenth will eventually secure admission.

The factors responsible for this will the subject of a future blog post.

That JAMB celebrated thirty years of existence is considered by many as a miracle borne out of unchanging policies in the education sector of this country. That it will mark another thirty is an issue of great speculation at best and worst a non-possibility. Evidence that the mammoth examining body has over stayed her welcome is obvious in many universities finding a way of admitting students outside the JAMB provision and more recently legalising university based entry qualification exams meaning that each admission candidate will write two entry exams, first the JAMB UME and then the individual school moderated tests popularly referred to as post JAMB tests.

Long before post JAMB many universities created many sub degree programs (Remedial School, Pre-Degree Science, Foundation Degree program etc), admissions into this program were not monitored by JAMB in any way and upon completion of this programs students who excel are offered admissions by the university into their choice degree programs leaving only a handful of places for JAMB candidates to fill. It was not long before students realised the best way to get into a degree program in the country is to go the sub-degree route…and in no time people just wrote JAMB for the sake of it and just in case.

Then came post JAMB tests that allows universities set their own admission standards oblivious of JAMB-so to speak.

The grouse in many quarters is that JAMB makes a lot of money from organising the exams/tests and does not to really justify the ‘huge’ fees charged candidates’. It has been argued in some quarters that this funds if earned by the universities may go a long way in helping to fund their activities. And some people just believe JAMB should go! And Universities should be allowed to manage their admission processes and procedures themselves like it was in the ‘good old days’, the argument  that the o’level exams that candidates seeking admission must pass is standardized and the need for subsequent tests is unnecessary.

 Whilst I have experienced insensitivities of JAMB to the many woes of students and candidates who form a base of her customers, I will not advocate that we throw the baby away with the bath water, rather, a think-tank comprising some of those who should know in this country should be convened and empowered to determine a responsible and sustainable future for the examining body.

And in the interim, students should get as much resources as possible to help them prepare for the tests and do their very best at the tests, who knows they may form the crux of tenth.

Long Live Nigeria!

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Oluwakorede Asuni author of the Students’ Survival Kit- a performance guide for undergraduates studying in Nigerian Universities, is completing his one year National Youth Service in Niger State. ‘Korede as he is fondly called by friends and associates maintains a personal website at: www.OluwakoredeAsuni.com.

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