By Yusuf Adua & Jide Afolabi
We need to bring in this piece this time because we want to symbolise how dark our minds are putting this out this week. It is worrisome that UTME scores have not improved since we wrote it. DIFFERENT STRATEGY BUT SAME OLD STORY.
UTME is an established student-assessment protocol put in place to evaluate prospective higher institution students. This crucial examination is domiciled under the purview of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), the establishment of this body in 1978 was a means to harmonize the procession of admitting students to higher institutions which, then, was directly proportional to the wishes of those campuses.
Not only in 2021 but since its inception, UTME scores have become a burning talking point; even before the system was computerised. It is safe to say that the architects of this piece wrote the paper and pencil test and therefore understood how it worked. JAMB result from the get-go has turned out to be the JAMMING THORN for students; the narrative is that candidates even pass this exam luckily. That is, it is not always the best students that defeat JAMB and its armoury, UTME but the wisest. To decipher which is failing among students, examination body, educational system, the government, parents, and guardians, or brilliance and competence has been furtive.
Some observers even say that the PPT(paper-pencil test) type of evaluation had to be scrapped owing to logistics challenges making candidates fail, but if the newly introduced CBT(computer-based test) was incorporated to cater for this need, this year’s result of the examination was one of the worst to have been released.
In the view of the technocrat in charge of the board, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, the infusion of the NIN registration for candidates reduced the level of impersonation and malpractice, but are we safe to say that students failed this year woefully because they had no access to mechanical fraud as claimed by the educator? Who will answer this question?
Some good heads among unprepared students who sat for this year’s JAMB blamed their failure on syllabus distortion. What we mean here is that students said they met what was not supposed to be met in this last examination. What about the news that circulated about the embezzlement of funds by the UTME Board, some superstitious observers said this year’s supposed mass failure is the antidote to the cat that was let out of the bag of the body. It will interest any concerned Nigerians to note that some of these candidates explained to us that they failed because of the hiatus caused by technical failure of JAMB and its apparatus; some of which include; the cancellation of centres, failure of examination to start at the scheduled time, technical upgrade hitches, and so on.
Looking closely at the exam, the syllabus was one of the excuses given by Art students. They protested that the exam questions were not from the present syllabus, but from the 2016-2020 syllabi, claiming that the questions are obsolete. Were they right?
COVID-19 relegated the education sector to the lowest league possible. It brought about a system of learning which is unfriendly to Nigeria. it is blameworthy to tell a student living in the outskirt of Place X in Nigeria where data connection is not available talk less of electricity to catch a Zoom JAMB tutorial. Education of third worlds is the worst hit of this deadly pandemic and an attempt to heap a cent of blame on JAMB or any pilar of this examination is a needless effort.
We should note that during a time where everything seemed to be against a country like Nigeria which hardly prepared for the unexpected, the sharp racecourse of social media during the eve to this exam made its mark in milking the results of some of these candidates.
Students had nothing to lay their hands on for over six months and they resulted in “trending on the social networks”.Since the pandemic till this moment, Nigeria has become a dominant force in the electronic media. You will pray for Nigeria and Nigerians to experience the same bosom fortune they enjoy on the internet to translate into the economic prosperity of the giant of Africa.
To hit the nail on the coffin, students who were deservedly or luckily triumphant in this year’s UTME exhibition are enjoined in this piece to push for admission into the higher institutions of their choice with haste and less speed. They should also put in their best and hope that good luck ride in their way as they seek soft-landing in their pursuit. In the same vein, students who could not keep their promises of coming out in flying colours are advised to put the disappointment behind them and take the leap again.
While the unfortunate candidates will have to try again later (next year), those who can push for greener pasture with their scores are discouraged from toying with it. It is better to seize an opportunity that has come than to wait for the uncertain one. For 2020, social media and COVID-19 ruled Nigeria and had direct impacts on UTME scores, no one knows that which would act as superpower next year.
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