Should the JAMB result be valid for 4 years?

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The House of Representatives is trying to dream of amending the Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) Act 2021 to extend the validity period of Unified Higher Education Examination (UTME) scores to four years.

The bill sponsored by MP representing Oluyole Federal Constituency of Oyo State, Tolulope Akande-Sadipe, which passed second reading, seeks to amend certain sections, including sections 5(1a) and 5(2) of the 2021 Act.

At the mention of Akande-Sadipe’s name, apart from news of her constituent empowerment projects and committee activities, she made headlines during the confrontation with the media assistant of the vice president of the Senate, Mr. Jide Babalola.

In November 2021, Oyo State’s only female legislator alleged that Babalola hit her in an elevator in the House of Representatives wing of the National Assembly. The lawmaker has been criticized for inviting the police to arrest Babalola for investigation, while she was going about her normal day-to-day activities.

With his new bill, Nigerians, especially parents and guardians whose wards pay for the JAMB exam, may have reason to hail the Akande-Sadipe. Currently, the UTME result is valid for one year and applicants seeking admission to tertiary institutions in the country must pass the exams according to the cut-off scores set by JAMB.

But if the bill is passed by the National Assembly and approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, the UTME results will be valid for four years.

While leading the debate on the bill in the plenary on Thursday, Akande-Shadipe said the current validity period of UTME results is unrealistic in today’s economy as parents struggle to afford JAMB fees for their wards every year.

“When you look at the number of students who apply to university each year and the number who enter it, it is not their fault, so why should they be penalized?. All over the world, none of these exams is only valid for a year; the Academic Aptitude Test (SAT) is valid forever,” she said.

“Most universities around the world enjoy these exams for at least five years, but here in Nigeria, JAMB is valid for entry and if you don’t pass it, you repeat it. I think it’s unfair, there are a lot of children in this country whose parents find it difficult to send them to school. These children go through school, pass this exam and then the following year, for no reason, they are made to take the exams again.

“If we continue like this, it is akin to a society where human beings are sacrificed for money; why should our children be sacrificed on the altar of income generation?

The Bill was not sold smoothly as Member representing Ukwa East/West Constituency, Abia State, Nkem Abonta opposed the proposed amendment, saying the increase in the period validity of UTME results would defeat the purpose of JAMB.

According to him, the extension risks creating a “crisis” in the process of admission to higher education institutions rather than in the solution it intends to provide.

Along the same lines, the member representing Portharcourt Federal Constituency II, Chinyere Igwe, argued that there was a difference between an entrance exam and a terminal exam.

According to him, making the result valid for two or more years would reduce the level of education in the country.

“JAMB is an entrance examination, to secure admission into a university, polytechnic or colleges of education, for a terminal qualification,” Igwe said.

According to the legislator, the foreign examinations mentioned by the sponsor of the bill, are final examinations, and not entrance examinations, like the JAMB.

Eventually, the reasoning prevailed when Deputy Minority Leader Toby Okechukwu insisted the bill had good intentions but said it would need to be scrutinized during committee review. , the “wrongdoing” it seeks to “repair does not lead to a situation where we are still creating wrongdoing”.

“The sponsor discussed the economics of this one. What she is saying is that our children and the parents who fund their education have not only suffered double jeopardy, but have suffered multiple perils,” he said.

Okechukwu said some students have continued to pass JAMB exams and have not been able to attend school for more than five years, which sometimes often results in school dropout.

Unfortunately, I am more inclined to be convinced by Akande-Sadipe’s argument and, in so doing, to believe that the amendment is necessary. JAMB seems to lose sight of its mandate to ensure that only qualified applicants are admitted to higher education institutions and the council is probably more interested in generating revenue for the government.

Education Minister Mallam Adamu Adamu recently said that JAMB has so far paid around N29 billion directly to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF). The minister also said that the council has awarded over N1 billion to tertiary institutions and spent over N1 billion on capital projects. The minister added that the board has earmarked N6 billion for its future expansion and as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR). Isn’t it a surprise! This JAMB now competes with other revenue-generating government agencies such as the Nigeria Customs Service and FIRS.

The truth is that subjecting parents and guardians to yearly hardship in the name of JAMB registration only to put the proceeds back into government coffers is nothing but disguised taxation. Therefore, the JAMB result should not only be valid for at least two years, the examination fees should be reduced and made affordable for everyone.

Those who think that extending the validity of the JAMB result will reduce the level of education should first explain to Nigerians why the cut off mark is 140/400, it really is a minimum. The threshold should not fall below the average (200) for entry into an institution.

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