21st June, 2010
It is time the Federal Government scrapped the University Matriculation Examination, UME,Â conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board,Â JAMB. As far as many parents and candidates seeking admission into Nigeriaâ€™s universities are concerned, UME and JAMB outlived their relevance long ago. The fact that JAMB has failed Nigeria was underscored by the introduction of the post-UME test byÂ universities following all kinds of malpractices associated with the University Matriculation Examination introduced in the late 70s by the Federal Government.
The National Universities Commission instructed universities to conduct the post-UME test in 2005 when authorities of the universities complained that candidates that passed the UME were not measuring up in their academic endeavours in the universities. Lecturers discovered that some candidates who scored as high as 80% in the UME were dullards and wondered how they made it to the universities.
It has since been discovered that some of the UME candidates adopted various unscrupulous means to â€˜passâ€™ the examination. Those whose parents were rich hired â€˜mercenariesâ€™ to write the exam for them or bought question papers and prepared answers before the exam. Others even procured predetermined scores from JAMB officials.
However, the introduction of the post-UME test has not helped matters as malpractices still characterise the exercise. Universities have turned the test into a source of fleecing candidates and their parents. This has led to a debate over the relevance of the test, since reports have it that candidates who failed the test still bribed their way into the university. Many insist that the test has been compromised to a very large extent.
The House of Representatives is at the forefront of those calling for the scrapping of the post-UME test. Last month, the lawmakers ordered the National Universities Commission, NUC, to suspend the test following widespread outcry that the test has been bastardised because only the highest bidder now hides under it to gain admission into the university.
University authorities donâ€™t want it scrapped.Â The other day the Chairman of the Committee of Vice Chancellors, CVC, Professor Don Baridam, Vice Chancellor University of Port Harcourt, saidÂ the post-UME test should stay. He insisted that the exercise was designed to weed out those who were not fit for unversity education. The position of the vice chancellors not withstanding, we want JAMB and UME to be jettisoned and universities be allowed to conduct their own matriculation examinations as was the case before the introduction of UME in the late 70s.
Allowing the universities to conduct their own examinations will solve the problem of conducting post-UME test since the universities will set their own standards and ensure that their requirements for admission are not compromised by any external influence. Whatever imperfections that occur in the course of conducting the examination could be rectified as the years go by. The advantage is that candidates could write as many examinations of universities of their choice as they can in a particular year in their bid to gain admission instead of their fate being tied to a single matriculation examination conducted by an inept creation of the Federal Government called JAMB. In the case of UME, when brilliant candidates canâ€™t pass it in a particular year due to the activities of those who cheat, they have to wait for another year or even more years to write the exams. And this vicious circle continues to frustrate brilliant candidates who canâ€™t score as high marks as those who cheat or buy predetermined results from JAMB.
Parents, guardians and upright candidates would want the monopoly of JAMB to be broken. We reiterate that universities should conduct their own matriculation examinations to put an end to the problems associated with university admission.