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EDITORIAL

On UTME candidates’ massive failure

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NIGERIA’S education sector reached a nadir with the recently released results of candidates who sat for the 2021 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME). According to Joint Admission and Matriculation Board  (JAMB)’s release, of the 6,994,638  candidates who sat for the examination, 973,384 scaled through making a   14 per cent success rate , while the rate of failure stands at 86 per cent (5,970,984). This gives glaring evidence to the fact  that the education sector is in dire need of serious intervention.

  ALTHOUGH circumstances ascribed to the massive exam failure indicates that there is a weak link among the stakeholders – government, school authorities, students, examination organisers and  JAMB- the education sector has continued to be underfunded by government as its budget falls below United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recommendation.

  IN THE 2021 budget proposal, government allocated only N742.5 million out of the total N13.08 billion to the sector. This sum was just 5.6 per cent of the total budget and  the lowest percentage allocation since 2011. So, a lot should not be expected of the sector and its agencies such as JAMB. However, even as the outcomes are not much to be glad about, the federal government, given its huge emphasis on revenue generation,  rates JAMB high on  fiscal returns notwithstanding the obvious lack in  service delivery and efficiency.

  THE havoc dealt by  the coronavirus pandemic on the sector, with results leading to an abridged, turbulent school year and evolution of certain conditions which are beyond the students’ control further rattles the education sector. . These conditions have taken a toll on students and pupils’ physical, emotional and mental health given that ideally, the students’ mental status must be on the green zone for  high human performance to be achieved.

  THEREFORE, vital examinations like the JAMB’s UTME should ensure that they factor-in such situations in our education sector . When JAMB engages in an ICT-based test, it should endeavour to have basic expectations met.

THE social and technical factors heralding the UTME should also have been considered.

  AS the UTME of 2021 is a  computer-based test, it is expected that results are automated and should be delivered to candidates almost immediately after  they conclude their exams and logged out of the exam portal. This has not been the case as it took at least, 48-hours for candidates to get their results, thereby creating room for suspicion of  manipulation.

 SIMILARLY, there are complaints of sudden machine malfunction, power outage and involuntarily log out of candidates within the examination time frame. In some quarters, concerns have been raised that the examination was not based on the current curriculum such as in the Literature in English subject, a claim JAMB has refuted.

  NATIONAL Light, therefore, calls for thorough examination of JAMB’s activities therein with a view for   more leniency for the 2021 UTME candidates. This is because accessing the current candidates with the same standard as previous candidates is not fair.

   UNIVERSITIES should also  not compound the problems of the  youngsters by ensuring most of them are given admission on merit as against the case of giving opportunities only  to the highest bidders as it used to be the case  in most of the  institutions.

  AGAIN, government should not only fund the education sector massively but ensure that the funds are used for the purposes they are meant for. Meanwhile, JAMB should endeavour to ascertain the worthiness of ICT materials or tool provisions made by prospective CBT centres.

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