Nigerians react as JAMB hands-off cut off marks

It was a mixed reaction from many Nigerians as the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) announced on Tuesday that the apex body has abolished general cut-off marks for admission into tertiary institutions and allowed the institutions freedom to set their individual minimum benchmark for admission.

JAMB took the decision at the board’s 2021 policy meeting which was held virtually and chaired by Adamu Adamu, the minister of education. The Is-haq Oloyede, registrar of JAMB, speaking during the meeting, said some universities such as the University of Maiduguri proposed 150, Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto proposed 140, PanAtlantic University proposed 210, University of Lagos 200, Lagos State University 190, Covenant University 190, Bayero University Kano, 180. The meeting approved that for Direct Entry ( DE), the maximum score a candidate can present is 6 and the minimum is 2 or E, as required by law.

Recall JAMB has been conducting entrance examinations and setting the cut-off marks for admission into tertiary institutions in Nigeria for the past 43 years.

Read also: JAMB cancels UTME cut-off marks

Some stakeholders who spoke with BusinessDay expressed their disappointment over the decision of JAMB to abolish general cut off marks and to direct various institutions to set cut off marks as deemed fit.

Oluchi Chukwuma, a teacher, said the action of the board is unacceptable and a pointer to a failed system.

“Sustainable education cannot be possible with this action. JAMB has failed in its responsibility”, she said.

However, Ogundele Boyega believes the change in gear was orchestrated by the corruption in the land.

“Though it used to be the practice in the past but because of corruption that has eaten deep into every corner of the country. I do not think it is good for our educational system”, he stated.

The issue of unified cut off marks he buttressed further has been bringing sanity in our educational system to some extent despite the central cut off the issue of quota system was a big problem, but now that JAMB is coming in with this development, many people who did not write the Unified Tertiary and Matriculation Examination (UTME) will begin to gain admission in some part of the country. This he said is not healthy for Nigeria and the education system.

However, taking a look at some countries in the world, such as Canada and Finland, where students are not subjected to writing examinations like UTME but gain admission to the tertiary institutions through their secondary education performance as obtainable in Finland, and a system which allows various institutions to set their criteria for admitting students as in Canada, JAMB is on track.

Bolarinwa Kayode, a social analyst feels the system is not ideally organized. Speaking with BusinessDay on the recent development, he said, “The Nigerian educational system, especially for tertiary education, is bedevilled with too many hurdles which are not a true test of the students’ knowledge.”

He cited the USA where they use the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) to admit students into their various tertiary institutions. These examinations are arranged and organized in such a way that students can sit for the exams several periods in a year, while in Nigeria, JAMB is designed on yearly basis.

The cut off marks for both the North and South are different, a unified system of admission is what is needed. Besides, he advocated for the exams to run like the USA system, whereby one can write the exams more than once a year.

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