I was scrolling down my timeline on my twitter page, when i saw the headline; “FG to scrap JAMB, NECO,” tweeted by some other handle. I could not click on the link immediately, as i was on my way out, so i saved it in my favorites, to read the full details of that piece of news later. Now before eventually reading the full details, different thoughts balled up in my head. I began to think of what the FG had up its sleeves this time, i was also silently thinking the headline could be an extension of the pranks played on the 1st of April, i thought it was one of those headlines posted by the Fake9jaNews people on twitter, (i had actually fallen prey on one or two of their jokes), so it was quite a big deal for me to check the full details of the news.
Finding out that the news was actually no prank brought on mixed feelings. Yes, we all know how “hallowed” JAMB has been over the years. For those of us who had sat for the exam more than twice, such news in the first instance would have been great news. I mean, imagine applying to any tertiary institution of your choice without having to pray against being “jammed by JAMB”. People actually used to give testimonies in church about “conquering JAMB” back when i was still struggling to scale through myself. However, now as i read through the plans of the FG for JAMB, i can only ask, “How feasible is this plan”? According to what i read on the Daily Post Ng online newspaper, the Federal Government Plans to “fine-tune” the duties of the Joint Admissions Matriculation Board, only a few years after its launch of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Exam (U.T.M.E). The idea, as i read, is to make JAMB a “clearing house”, like the UCAS in the U.K. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Services is used by various universities in the U.K, and acts as a resource center for prospective students, they provide adequate information for intending students, and also help students make informed choices about higher education, providing guidance for the students, and their parents inclusive in the admission process.
In some ways, this could have been a welcome development. It would have been pleasing that at last JAMB no longer gets to decide the fate of the majority of young people who want to get a higher education in Nigeria. One would have been pleased with the news that students could now apply directly to the svhools of their choice using information provided by the schools vis-a-vis the new structure JAMB is supposed to take on. My thoughts however, are that among other things, Nigeria is not quite ready for such a giant leap in the educational sector.
First we need to examine the JAMB we have always known. Apart from conducting examinations into different tertiary institutions in Nigeria, JAMB served as a tool for checking the excesses of even the Universities in question. In a country where the “man-know-man” syndrome is an rampant as ever, writing a joint exam that is conducted by a seemingly “neutral” body gives a student a little reprieve. Under the rules, a student who scores at least 200 marks in the JAMB examination is eligible to sit for the examinations set by these schools in question. Now with the plan to scrap JAMB, and the new idea to leave tertiary institutions with the power to grant or decline admissions, it would be a tad difficult for the student who “knows no man” to get admitted into school. Just think of it, even with JAMB, there was still the hustle of scaling the hurdle that was Post Jamb, applying for change of course and all, and at the end, some might not even get admission and would have to apply again. Now that JAMB is to become a “clearing house” only, with the fate of the Nigerian student in the hands of the admission board of every tertiary institution in the country, is it not safe to say that the number of students who would be admitted into tertiary institutions per year would decrease rapidly?
Another question that comes to mind is the readiness of the educational sector in Nigeria to manage such a change. Looking at the structure of the UCAS, one would see that it would take the existence of a rather strong system of education to maintain such a change as the one that is about to take place in Nigeria. What is the groundwork that has been done by the Federal Government to ascertain that the scrapping of JAMB would not become a failed attempt at educational development? What guarantee does the FG have for the people of this great country that majority of our youths would not be deprived of tertiary education with the new structure JAMB is about to take on? How prepared are Nigerian Universities for the responsibility that is about to be placed on them? and how well can these universities manage the number of young people who would apply to their schools based on the resources provided them by the new JAMB?
Before i end this rant, i would like to say that examinations still remain one of the best ways to test a student’s preparedness for the next level of his/her education. If JAMB is scrapped totally as is being proposed, there would be no way to check the excesses of students who were not as serious with their education. Furthermore, what would happen to those students who would want to get into the university through direct entry? In my opinion, more should be done to prepare the Nigerian tertiary system of education for such a giant step. Majority of our Universities are not fully accredited, in some case, most of their courses lack full accreditation, and most times students have to be transferred to other schools to complete their studies. The issue of favoritism and “man know man” in our tertiary institutions should also be checked before such a decision is enacted. It would be a shame if at the end of the day deserving students are made to sit at home because they have no “oga at the top” to help hasten their admission process. Changing the structure of JAMB is a good idea, but the timing is very wrong. The FG should make sure that this initiative would not become a huge flop in the coming years.
Side note: A naughty part of me thought though, if JAMB could be scrapped/demoted to a mere “clearing house”, why cant NYSC be scrapped and turned into a “forwarding house”,,,,, LOL… i mean turn it into an organization that provides reliable information on companies a graduate can apply to for jobs……