Discordant tunes still trail scrapping of post-UTME

Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu

Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu

Just like its existence over the years, the scrapping of the controversial Post-Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (Post-UTME) has continued to elicit reactions from a wide array of stakeholders in the education sector.

Expectedly, while some are of the opinion that it was a step in the right direction, other still flay the Federal Government for allegedly creating a pathway for misfits to flow into Nigerian universities.

This is the group that contends that, with the comparison of both UTME and post-UTME, it would not be an uphill task to distinguish candidates, whose successes were aided from those whose genuine efforts paid off in the qualifying examination.

While declaring open the 2016 Combined Policy Meeting on Admissions to Universities, Polytechnics and other Higher Institutions in the country, Education Minister, Adamu Adamu, declared that post-UTME as presently executed would be no more, even though varsities were still at liberty to conduct screening for candidates seeking admission into any school.

Adamu, in making the pronouncement expressed confidence in the UTME, adding that there was no need for other examinations to be conducted by universities after the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) had administered the examination, which it is statutorily empowered to do.

“As far as I am concerned, the nation has confidence in what JAMB is doing. The universities should not be holding another examination and if the universities have any complain against JAMB let them bring it and then we would address it. If JAMB is qualified enough to conduct tests and they have conducted tests, then there will be no need to conduct another test for students to gain admission,” Adamu posited.

A section of highly placed academics, and education administrators, who though also believe in the usefulness/efficacy of the post-UTME test, see the post-UTME as being highly exploitative as many universities in the country have turned the exercise into a revenue earner.

They are also of the view that the adoption of a two-pronged qualifying examination- one conducted by JAMB and the other moderated by respective institutions, was simply injustice to candidates, their parents and guardians.

Apart from its exploitative nature and the very sad duplication of efforts, which it constitutes, the post-UTME, especially the essay part exposes the very poor writing skills of secondary school leavers. Test of competence in written and oral English, critical thinking and ability to present ideas in logical sequence befitting of undergraduates is a key aspect of screening for admission into tertiary institution.

Vice Chancellor, University of Medical Sciences, Ondo State, Prof. Friday Okonofua, is one of those that are against the scrapping of the post-UTME, stressing that the exercise was capable of creating a greater crisis instead of solving the “perceived problems” in the education sector.

Okonofua, while briefing journalists on plans to launch a Friends of UNIMED Fund, said the government failed to consult widely before taking the decision.

His view is shared by the immediate past Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Prof. Bamitale Omole, who insists that the decision was a great disservice to the country’s education system.

For him, rather than doing away with the post-UTME, government should have concentrated efforts at improving infrastructure in public universities with the aim to expanding same to accommodate more students that are itching for quality tertiary education.

While addressing a press conference in Lagos recently, the former OAU vice chancellor maintained that scrapping post-UTME apart from being a disservice to quality education, would also put serious pressure on public institutions, which do not have the capacity to cope with the rising number of applicants.

Citing the example of OAU, Omole said, “The institution does not have the capacity to take more than 5,000 students per session, but for each year we don’t get less than a million applications from students. How do we reconcile that if there is no post-UTME to determine the best among the applicants?

“The decision (scrapping of post-UTME) would not only affect the standard of education, but it will also lead to over-stretching of facilities in the various public universities,” he added.

Omole also urged the Federal Government to encourage the establishment of more private universities in the country, adding that their curriculum and intake should be appropriately monitored.

He said, “If there are no private universities in Nigeria, I doubt if public institutions could cope with the challenges of intake of qualified applicants.”

Vice Chancellor, Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti, Prof. Samuel Bandele, begs to differ from those against the scrapping. In fact, he sees the now rested examination as an unnecessary duplication.

Bandele, who spoke in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State during a press conference ahead of the 21st convocation of the university said, “The scrapping of post-UTME is a good one, but this cannot stop the universities from screening prospective students, because that has been the tradition even before the advent of JAMB.

“Let me say this, the JAMB allocated 10,000 students to EKSU for admission in 2016 and we can’t admit all of them. So, the university would have to deploy its own internal mechanism to be able to get the best out of them. We should not also forget that the university would have to screen to know those who have requisite qualifications and those with fake certificates. So, the issue of extortion which some say accounted for the scrapping is not known to us here.”

Proprietor of Ronkus International Schools, Mararaba, Nasarawa State, Godwin N. Azibuike, is in full support of the annulment of the post-UTME, claiming that there was no need for it.

“We do not need a written test body again if the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has thoroughly conducted examinations for students’ admission. Having another body to set theory test is not necessary.

“JAMB should come out with guidelines on the number of vacancies existing in our nation’s universities for admission because universities use post-UTME to make students stay at home. JAMB results should be viewed as the authentic admission document into Nigerian universities.”

The educationist who lamented the financial burden borne by parents, who are still made by universities to pay huge sums for the post-UTME said many parents were not able to pay their children’s school fees and buy textbooks for them in time due to economic contraints.

“Some parents may even tell you to withhold their children’s certificates because of inability to pay tuition fees. Most times, we are reluctant to send away these students who default in fee payment. The situation is very bad and has affected the standard of education in the country. Parents can’t afford to buy textbooks, school uniforms. They prefer to buy just English language and mathematics books and ask if they can make photocopy of the other textbooks for the children. Things are that bad,” he added.

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