A cross section of members of House of Representatives on Tuesday called for the scrapping of Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) following the recent controversies over arbitrary reduction of cut-off marks into universities and polytechnics.
Worried by the public outcry on the declining standard of education in the country, the House mandated its Committee on Tertiary Education and Services, chaired by Zakari Mohammed to investigate the circumstances that led to the reduction in the cut-off marks and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.
The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hassan Saleh (APC-Benue).
Some of the lawmakers who expressed concerns over the development include: Henry Archibong (PDP-Akwa Ibom), Rita Orji (PDP-Lagos), Afe Olowookere (PDP-Ekiti) and Abubakar Chika (APC-Niger).
Recall that the Registrar of JAMB, Ishaq Oloyede announced that a minimum of 120 marks in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) would be required for placement of candidates into the Universities, while 100 marks would be required for placement into Polytechnics or Colleges of Education.
The announcement followed the August 22 policy meeting between the Registrar of JAMB, the heads of tertiary institutions and other stake holders held on modalities for the conduct of admissions into tertiary institutions for the 2017/2018 academic session.
Saleh alleged that many candidates who perform poorly in the UMTE, “could secure admissions through nepotism, bribery and corruption while many other candidates who perform excellently could be denied admissions.
“Despite the fact that more than 500,000 candidates scored above 200 marks which represents 50 percent of the total mark, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board still went ahead to announce a 120 cut-off mark which represents only 30 percent of the total examination mark of 400, while 100 marks stipulated for polytechnics and Colleges of Education represent only 25 percent of the total mark,” he added.
The Benue lawmaker who called for redress noted that Universities and polytechnics suppose to be “centres of excellence for learning, research and innovation, hence the need to always admit the best candidates in order to produce graduates that can compete favorably with their peers anywhere in the world;
“The House is also convinced that tertiary education should be for those candidates who have the intellectual capacity, hence lowering the entry qualification into higher institutions of learning would definitely reduce the productivity and peak performance of young people seeking admissions into such institutions.”
On his part, Afe Olowookere (PDP-Ekiti) described the newly introduced policy as highly detrimental to the country’s push for economic growth and development.
In their submissions, Henry Archibong, Rita Orji and Abubakar Chika called for a scraping of JAMB and the UTME, stating that the decision to lower cut-off marks for admission into tertiary institutions was a signal that the Board had outlived its usefulness.
The lawmakers took turns to accuse JAMB of buckling under pressure from privately owned universities, many of whom are seeking to increase the number of yearly admissions into their schools.
Specifically, Chika, a former Polytechnic lecturer, said it was highly disappointing that JAMB could succumb to pressure form private institutions, whom he alleged have long pushed for cut-off marks to be lowered.
“Let me even open up. This decision was taken because of private universities, they usually need to admit the children of the rich, who are not ready to work hard”, he said.
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja