2014 ma­tric­u­la­tion exam

Daily Trust - - VIEWS -

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.

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