The 2017 policy meeting of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB)  has come and gone with complaints and distasteful reactions. Some reacted based on ignorance while some were deliberately mischievous.

In the first category are persons that had the wrong notion about the approved admission policy. What the policy intends to do is to streamline the admission process rather than to undermine the autonomy of the universities. The policy meeting does not fix a uniform cut-off point for all the universities. What the JAMB did was to allow each institution fix its cut-off point.  And once it is communicated to the Board,  the concerned institution cannot admit any candidates that  score less than the giving cut off point. So,  the Board did not in all intents and purposes force any cut off point on institutions in  Nigeria.

What the JAMB Registrar announced was the consensus of all the stakeholders including Heads of tertiary institutions, Registrars and even the Admissions Officers of Universities, Polytechnics, Monotechnics and Colleges of Education across the country.

Reasonably, one would expect the cut off point for first generation universities to be different from newly established ones with lesser admission demand.  It was this  reality that informed the variation in the approved cut-off points and obviously this ranges from 120 to 200 depending on institution’s  tone,  admission demand and other criteria set by the senate of each university.

If a newly established private university with fewer than a thousand first choice candidates chooses 120 cut-off point, such reality shouldn’t be a basis for subjecting the policy to hasty generalisation.  In my own view, JAMB had restored the university autonomy by allowing each institution to fix its cut-off point.

Arising from the same policy meeting is the lifting of the ban on POST UTME.The implication is that  institutions can now use each  candidate’s aggregate score for admission process. Given the circumstances under which the Honourable Minister For Education lifted the ban on the conduct of POST UTME, it portrays Mallam Adamu Adamu as an intelligent, credible and reasonable educational administrators. The courage and humility he displayed in reversing the ban on POST UTME signals that hope is not totally lost on the future of the nation’s educational system.

What constitutes a candidate’s aggregate score is the summation of candidate’s JAMB score,  O’ Level graded score/point and POST UTME score. Obviously, the policy re-direction will help address the challenges of admitting not suitably qualified candidates.

In the second category are those who are being mischievous with their opposition to the outcome of the policy meeting. From media reports, some universities out of pride and by  mere  dispay of arrogance  have created an impression that the policy meeting had introduced a uniform cut off point of 120 for all universities.  Whatever the motive behind this propaganda, my candid opinion is that  the institutions that are behind the distorted information are just trying to deliberately spread falsehood or twist the letter and spirit of the laudable policy.The disdain and opposition is  however not acceptable as a normal academic culture.

For the avoidance of doubts, what the new cut off point policy is saying is that an institution cannot admit any candidate that scores  below the submitted cut off point in all circumstances. In any case, the apprehension that 120 cut off point will cause dramatic fall in the standard of education is a mere wishful thinking so far it does not applies to all universities.

Given the implications of the above background information,  the outcry by some universities that they cannot accept any policy that would cause them to lower their standard is baseless and unwarranted. So far, JAMB has not imposed any cut off point on tertiary institutions or attempted to usurp the universities’ autonomy.

While the erroneous  impression created by the cynics is clarified, I think Prof. Isiaq Oloyede, the JAMB Registrar deserves commendation for introducing a Central Admissions Processing System (CAPS) effective from 2017 admissions. Truly, CAPS as a technological innovation would not just eliminate multiple cases of admission, it will create  market place to enable institutions source candidates from the pool based on various criteria such as JAMB score,  state of origin, gender  and specialisations. One other advantage of CAPS is that admissions can be processed in batches as well as instantaneously with candidates being able to check and track their admission status at any point in time on the JAMB portal. The innovation is not only plausible, it is equally going to be an enduring legacy of the current JAMB Registrar.

However, the 2017/2018 admission exercise will be conducted on dual mode such that the current manual system will run in parallel with the implementation of CAPS with the intention of full transmission in the immediate future.

It is hoped that the mischief makers would take time to study and understand the merit and workings of the innovative strategies introduced by JAMB for a more credible admission process in the country before unnecessary criticism of the new policy. Again, the JAMB Registrar needs to create more awareness on rationale behind the new approach to cut off system and further intensify efforts on sensitisation of stakeholders, students and parents on short and long term benefits of the new policy.

Written by Rahaman Onike from  Oyo State College of Agriculture and Technology, Igboora, Oyo State.



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