2014 matriculation exam
he Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) last week released the results of the 2014 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) in a record-setting five-day period after the test took place nationwide last April 12. The test was conducted in two of three modes: the Paper-Pencil Test (PPT) and the Dual-Based Test (DBT). The Computer-based Test (CBT), which is the third mode, is scheduled to hold from May 17 to Saturday May 31, 2014. This year’s UTME is the 6th since the introduction of these modes. While 990,179 candidates applied for the PPT; 25,325 others applied for the DBT.
Some 1,865 centre (for the PPT) and 133 (for the DBT) spread across the country were used. JAMB’s Registrar, Professor ‘Dibu Ojerinde, said that only 24 out of the about one million candidates that sat for the PPT scored 250 points and above, indicating a more dismal performance by candidates compared to the 2013 exercise in which 10 candidates scored 300 points above.
In the PPT mode, 275,282 candidates scored below 150; 122,157 scored 150-159; 115,456 scored 160-169; 315,401 candidates scored 170-199; while 108,488 candidates scored 200-249. In the DBT, 2,471 candidates scored below 150; 2,830 scored 150-159; 3,808 scored 160-169; 6,678 candidates scored 170-199; while 1,309 candidates scored 200-249.
JAMB declared 36,164 results invalid and withheld 2,494 others, with 37,315 recorded as absentees. Although the number of voided results is marginally lower than last year’s 40,000, the trend is still worrisome. The fact that over thirty-six thousand candidates, after six years of secondary education, could not follow simple instruction of how to shade answers in an examination they spent months preparing for is a sad comment on the standard of teaching in Nigerian schools. It demonstrates the need to strengthen guidance and counselling units in schools to equip students with necessary examination skills.
Ojerinde noted that the 2014 examination witnessed a decrease in candidates’ desperation to cheat, thereby reducing incidence of malpractices.
The sharp drop in the number of results withheld by the board for further scrutiny and possible disciplinary action, from 12,110 in the 2013 UTME to 2,494 in the 2014 exam, is a positive development, even though a malpractice-free conduct of the examination should be the aim. This slight improvement in the conduct of the examination may be attributed to the short period it took process results, minimizing the chances for any form of procedural manipulation of examination scores.
Part of the challenges that have come to define the annual UTMEs is the inadequate number and dilapidated state of facilities in most public schools where they are held. This is in spite of the huge annual budgetary allocation to the education sector that should address and ameliorate such challenges. The 2014 UTME result are therefore part of the rub-off of the crisis in the sector. The poor quality of teaching at the basic and secondary levels of the system is sufficient evidence of this. The candidates could not have risen above the quality of the teachers they had.
The private sector, which should lead the way in providing some relief in the form of alternative, is not helping matters either. Most private-sector schools are run like profit-making enterprises, charging fees that only the rich can afford. These have their consequences on the system.
Overall, the general administration of this year’s UTME is encouraging. The results, however, are below national expectation. JAMB could do better in checking incidence of malpractices by blacklisting examination centres known to indulge in them. Government must be seen to show commitment to resolving the multi-faceted crises bedevilling the education sector by monitoring and evaluating expenditures in it, and making adjustments where necessary.