41 YEARS OF EXISTENCE: THE MAJOR CHALLENGES FACING JAMB IN NIGERIA AND POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS.

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JAMB, an acronym for Joint Admission And Matriculations Board is a Nigerian examination body that organises tertiary-level institution entrance examination hence known as Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).

Founded in 1978, with a motive of testing the knowledge, eligibility and readiness of the candidates to go into tertiary institutions. JAMB has been keeping up to their task of making sure this is done through their yearly examinations for prospective undergraduates. After these exercises, JAMB RESULTS are released for all candidates who sat for JAMB EXAMINATION and the eligible candidates are offered admission while the ones with lower scores are considered ineligible and therefore are denied that opportunity. They set up what is called “cut-off marks” for different categories of tertiary institutions; Universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and vocational institutes hierarchically. The cut-off marks are set increasingly from vocational institute to universities. That is to say the higher your score, the higher your chance of getting admitted in the university.

The exam is grouped into four different subjects which are related to the candidates’ course study. Each of the subjects has a total of 100 marks which when multiplied by the four subjects brings it to a total mark of 400 (overall).

From the onset, the exam body policy has it that for one to be given a provisional admission in

Federal Universities: you must score at least 200 of 400

State Universities: you must score at least 180 of 400

Polytechnics: 150 of 400

College of education: 120 of 400

While vocational institutes set marks by themselves (since most of them are private institution).

While this was adopted and implemented, some people accepted it and some did not. With the reason that the marks are too high thereby making it almost impossible for greater percentage of the candidates to gain admission into their preferred institution and course.

Most of them in a bid to kill boredom and the depression that comes with staying at home waiting for another exam year to write again with no conviction of getting admission yet, they literally settle for less. That is they go for institutions/courses with lower cut-off marks just to increase the chance of them gaining admission.

This is never a good idea as it practically kills one’s dreams.

I was in an educational conference and a comedian at the event made a joke of this and I think it will be appropriate to quote him. He said, “It is only in Nigeria that you aspire to be at the top but jamb brings you down to the earth so you become humbled..

You will aspire to become a medical doctor. With high hopes and assurance you’ll write your first jamb and score 157. You might be offered admission into polytechnic but they don’t offer such professional courses as medicine and surgery. So next time you go for pharmacy, then to pharmacology, then to science lab tech. You keep going down till you get to choose fishery by yourself just so you become a degree holder”

That’s funny but true. Imagine how they feel at that point yet it doesn’t end there. The real depression sets in after school and you know you haven’t been taught enough (practical wise) and are almost unemployable. (is it worth the stress then?) that is by the way.

The government and JAMB EXAMINATION BODY after years of several debates and considerations decided make some amendments on their policies which includes cutting down the marks drastically to make it easier for the candidates to get admission and the introduction of JAMB CAPS.

Upon this chop on the cut-off marks, implementing it becomes difficult for some institutions. Some schools out of disobedience maintained the former cut-off marks set by JAMB. And these schools are not been penalised for this. That’s how bad it is. Every year a good number of young Nigerians write JAMB exams and does not reach their target. Either they do not get admitted to school of their choice, or course of their choice or they won’t get it at all. Their dreams are shattered and talents which ought to be harnessed are massacred.

The biggest problem of JAMB started when it scraped the PEN AND PAPER TEST METHOD and introduced COMPUTER BASED TEST (CBT).

In case you do not know the

MEANING OF CBT

Computer-based test (CBT) is any examination/test whose essential methods for conveyance are through a computer. A CBT examination/test (at times called courseware) might be conveyed by means of a product item (i.e software) introduced on a solitary computer, through a corporate or educational intranet (JAMB in the case of this article), or over the Internet as Web-based test.

Haven said the meaning of CBT, I am not in any way saying that introduction of CBT by JAMB Nigeria isn’t a good move. In fact, it is an evidence of an improvement in the Nigerian education sector.  But I am more concerned at their “sudden decision and implementation of the policy”. In a country like Nigeria where high school (secondary school) students aren’t computer literate or very conversant with its use, training should have been introduced to all secondary school students in their final year who wish to further their education, on how to answer JAMB COMPTER BASED TEST (CBT) questions ahead of time for JAMB examination. This will give them enough time to master not just the use of computer but have a forehand experience of the exam. I am quite aware of the practice software which they can use to privately practice the test but that is not just enough as not all the prospective undergraduates can afford the software or a computer to run it on. I commend them for the mock too but they aren’t just enough.

I was opportune to talk to a candidate some years ago. She registered for the exam but weeks to her exam day, she became s o scared to the extent that she wished she never registered that year. She disclosed to me her fear.

“I haven’t used a computer for tutorials before so I do not know how to use it. What if I get there and press a button and the whole thing shut down? I wish I hadn’t registered. In fact it is better I don’t go for it. Let me instead go for a computer appreciation course and then write next year”, she said.

I was touched by her story and I personally took her through intense tutorials coupled with counsel lings which had her confidence restored back.  After the exam she confessed it was same way she did it during the tutorials.

Now think of it, she was just lucky I came to her rescue.. There are people like her who do not have such privilege. What becomes of them?

I will suggest jamb introduce training in schools to prepare these young talents ahead of time.

Now the most annoying part and a challenge too is unpreparedness of some of the JAMB ACCREDITED CENTERS. Some cyber cafes do not prepare and get theirs computers ready for use ahead of time. That is why sometimes students complain of malfunctioned systems/software during exams which has so much psychological effects on the candidates. All accredited centers ought to check that all computers to be used are intact and in good conditions.

Let me share yet another experience by a candidate during the 2019 JAMB EXAMINATION.

The student when I asked him what his experience was like, shared his scary experience with me.

He replied,

“Sir the devil tried to realter my route but God intervened. After I thumb printed, I went to my seat and it happened that the system I was supposed to write with was faulty. It displays some codes (like JavaScript codes) I couldn’t interpret and was beeping at the same time. I called the attention of the supervisors but they couldn’t salvage the situation either. They said it was a software issue and gave me a laptop to use meanwhile others were using desktop. I clicked start and it still has a fault like the former but this time the monitor was blank. I went to the third one which worked perfectly but while all these were happening, others have started writing so I had to rush to finish my questions before it shuts down. I was scared and my body was shaking. Thanks to God I attempted all questions at last.”

I learnt from his story that the exam center wasn’t prepared enough for the exam and so are not even qualified enough to be accredited by JAMB. And the whole situation had some serious psychological effect on him which isn’t supposed to be. JAMB should consider these things and put things in order.

We also heard of the story of the over-zealous security official, who allegedly asked a Muslim candidate to remove her hijab before entering the examination hall (against her religious belief and jamb policy too).  This also has big (psychological) effect on the candidate. Being a lady, she is susceptible to emotional breakdown and shyness. Imagine how she felt after the said incident and how she managed to write her exams – without throwing her minds back to what happened minutes before.

JAMB should rightly inform its officials of their rules – what and what not to do to avoid such mistakes and embarrassment.

 

Except JAMB solves these problems, Nigerians will always think they are parasitic body whose mission is to rob off its prospects of their hard earned money.

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