When the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) was set up to organize entrance examinations for candidates into our universities, the thinking was that with a unified body centrally coordinating the examinations, it would be easy to maintain the same standards in the admission process of all the universities, and ensure that from every university, quality graduates are turned out every other year to the progress and edification of the country. This sounded good and sweet at that time, and indeed, for sometime, the conceivers of this policy were sufficiently vindicated and applauded. But, perhaps, the well-meaning originators of this policy did not imagine that a time will come when JAMB will become the very rampaging evil threatening to pull down our entire tertiary educational system. Indeed, JAMB has become an idea whose time has gone, and whatever good points it had scored in times past have been irremediably soiled by its present foul record. All that remains now is to reward JAMB with a fitting space in the rubbish heap of history. The Universities can then commence the painful task of clearing the horrible mess already created by JAMB.
The ruinous evil of JAMB commenced slowly. We first began to see the Board being overwhelmed at examination centres due to insufficient invigilators and lack of adequate security. This is in spite of the huge sums accruing to it from the sales of application forms. This failure by JAMB gave room for widespread malpractices at examination centres. JAMB’s panic reaction to this has been totally wrong-headed and counterproductive: it would most unfairly cancel the whole results of some centres, or even whole areas, thereby punishing innocent candidates in the process. Even after organizing the exams for many years, JAMB has been, most unfortunately, unable to demonstrate any ability to master its job.
But that is only a marginal bit of the evil. Soon, JAMB began to unfold its own ungodly agenda, evolved a ‘cash and carry’ policy, to lighten the burden of privileged students, and improve the fortune of its irremediably corrupt staff. Gradually, we began to hear about candidates whose incredibly high scores do not reflect their known level of intelligence. And this became big business, in fact, the most lucrative in town presently! All any dunce needs to ‘score’ 300 to qualify to read Medicine is to carry a ‘Ghana-must-go’ bag to JAMB offices. The racket is so pervasive that even typists are becoming very wealthy from altering scores. You won’t be surprised that even a cleaner can secure you a higher score than some senior member of staff. All it takes is a reliable ‘business partner’ in the computer room, or even nearness to oga’s driver or girlfriend! It is that bad. The story in town is so dirty.
The danger now is that after all the dunces had purchased the high scores, say from 280-300 (depending on how much you can afford), the intelligent candidates scoring 250-260-270 by their own efforts are disadvantaged. Now, Universities have specified number of students to be admitted for particular courses at a time. And cut-off marks are dependent on the scores of the candidates. By the time a particular department begins to count down until it gets the number of students its facility can accommodate, and then pegs its cut-off marks at 280 and above, or mercifully 277, all others who had scored lower than that are told that they have ‘failed’ the UME, and so no admission for them. Then the ‘bright’ and ‘successful’ ones are offered admission. Congratulations!
But by the time the hapless teachers meet these high scoring students in class, it then becomes obvious that JAMB had given them live snakes in their hands. And that is when the secret behind the high scores emerges. Many of them are not even able to make the lowest pass in any exam or test. They cannot even understand the basic courses which are designed in such a way that even an average O/level student can tackle them comfortably. Yet, these are supposed to be extremely brilliant students judging from JAMB scores!
How long will this nation continue to sit still and watch JAMB continue frustrating out intelligent students from University education, while privileged dunces get all the priority placements in the admission list?
And because many of those students that JAMB downloads into the universities are unable to cope, they will resort to joining cults to intimidate lecturers to pass them. Others would indulge in large-scale bribery of lecturers for marks. And for the girls, the key to success is their ever cheap bodies. All these could have been avoided, or minimally reduced, if JAMB had given the universities the truly qualified candidates. So, I blame the unethical practices of lecturers largely on JAMB. Yes, some lecturers sexually harass students, that is a fact that cannot be denied. But it is now clear that more female students sexually assault their lecturers; in fact, some girls would almost rape their teachers! This is a fact. That’s why many of them are almost going about nude. Some visit their lecturers at odd hours barely dressed. Now, I have even heard that in some departments where some lecturers are uncompromising, some departmental secretaries and clerks collect their own ‘JAMB dividends’ in cash and in kind and effect changes in marks especially in courses that had large classes, where it would be difficult to detect.
Several conscientious University administrators and lecturers are highly concerned about this evil JAMB is perpetrating. I believe this was why the University of Lagos made moves recently to make their incoming students take qualifying exams organized by the university after JAMB had given them its jumbo marks. JAMB had succeeded in frustrating that effort by UNILAG but how far can decent society tolerate JAMB’s evil monopoly and allow it to kill our education? Some parents who are only interested in their children just getting degree certificates may continue to cheer JAMB on but for how long? Other Universities should join forces with UNILAG and fight JAMB out of our education. Concerned parents who desire quality education should join the fight.
In fact, all lovers of education should join their voices in this call for JAMB to be scraped. Let every university admit its own students, and organize its own entrance examinations. If any university then decides to go the way of JAMB and convert its admission process into a cash box venture, then it is only the products of that particular university that will be termed Toronto . Those of other universities would have credibility. That is how it is in other nations.
Helping JAMB to carry out this evil agenda is the one they call NECO.Don’t ask me what that means. I hardly know. All I say about NECO presently is that students who failed woefully in the WAEC-organized SCCE make distinctions in it without sweat. I have continued to be worried by this until recently when I made enquiries about this NECO. It was then I was told that the organizers of NECO, like those at JAMB, have made everything easy for students. They provide easy escape for students who are incapable of passing the WAEC-organized SSCE. About forty percent of the total score in every subject a student will offer in NECO comes from the course assessment tests organized by the secondary schools, while the NECO exams scores make up for the remaining sixty.
Now, it is the desire of every school, especially the private ones, that its students pass very well, in order to attract more enrollments. So, after the course assessment scores have been compiled, the authorities of many of these schools would upwardly moderate the scores. This puts every student at an advantage, so that no matter what he or she scores in the NECO exams, it would be difficult to not pass.
For the teachers, this has brought their once elusive reward within reach. And they are making the best of this opportunity. All a teacher needs now to lure that ripening Senior Secondary student to his bedroom is just to drop the hint that her test scores are low in his subjects, and that that would affect her performance in NECO if she does nothing to remedy it. And for the boys, Daddy must be made to come and see Mr. Teacher with some crispy notes if the boy must be ‘helped’ to do well in NECO.
Now, the story all over town is that some study centres have become liason offices for JAMB. I am told that, right now, candidates know which centres to go to for lessons. Reason? At those ‘special’ centres, you are assured of very high scores in the JAMB exams because the owners of those study centers are ‘properly connected.’ These things must be investigated by the relevant authorities.
Indeed, all this nonsense must stop. Join the crusade to scrap this evil duo today: JAMB and NECO must go. NOW!