• Thursday, February 29, 2024
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BusinessDay

JAMB and candidates’ redistribution policy

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The Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) recently embarked on the policy of redistributing candidates against their choice of institutions. JAMB explained that the policy to redistribute candidates who have cut-off marks less than what their institutions of first choice required to needy institutions was done to assist the candidates and their parents. There was spontaneous reaction against the JAMB candidates’ redistribution policy by parents, students and the Universities.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) of University of Ibadan in its reaction to the policy said that JAMB had made the admission process chaotic and exposed candidates to fraudsters, adding that the examination body must respect candidates’ preferences and choices for tertiary institutions and consider security of lives of candidates, cost, proximity, quality, and rights of the Nigerian child in arriving at any policy. They added that the policy is insensitive and exploitative of the children of the poor and that it is an abuse of their fundamental human rights of freedom of choice. They also alleged that the students are being forced to pay N1,000.00 so that they can know where they are reassigned against their choices.

In its response, JAMB explained that the board redistributed candidates who had scores less than what their first choice institutions required to needy institutions within their geopolitical zone depending on available space in such institutions. According to JAMB, its objective was to accommodate as many candidates as possible instead of just pushing them to institutions that didn’t have the capacity to  take on more students.

The decision according to JAMB to have a national accepted cut-off mark was to serve as a guide and pruning mechanism to give the tertiary institutions qualitative candidates to choose from a pool of candidates desirous of tertiary education. JAMB said that universities and other levels of tertiary institutions are at liberty to go higher, but not lower, depending on their peculiarities and the performance of candidates that choose them, provided this cut off marks are uniformly applied to all candidates based on existing admission criteria by proprietors of these institutions. However, JAMB described the allegation that it would make about N1 billion as proceeds from candidates buying cards to check their redistribution status as unfounded as the checking is completely free on the Board’s website.‎

We commend the spirited response from the society which shows the rising level of civic engagement in our polity. We equally applaud the immediate reversal of the policy by government. Thus, we feel that it would have been better if JAMB management had the opportunity to rescind its decision, thus allowing the institution to maintain its dignity in the eyes of the public that it serves.

While we share in the pain of the aggrieved candidates’ and their parents, the call by ASUU for the total scrapping of JAMB is out of place. The truth is that JAMB has not outlived its usefulness. Having a body charged with administering a central selection examination for candidates who seek tertiary education is still of great relevance considering the multiplicity of tertiary institutions and the cumbersome process that will ensue if such common pruning framework is not available.

We equally urge JAMB and other bodies that serve the public to always gauge public opinion on their intended policy directions so as to ascertain workability and acceptance prior to implementation.