Low Performance At UTME

THE Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) was established in 1978 by the Nigerian government to oversee a centralized admission test called the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME). The mandate empowers the Board to conduct Matriculation Examinations for entry into all Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education in Nigeria. Ever since its establishment, the management of JAMB especially under the current leadership of Prof Ishaq Oloyede has not left anyone in doubt of its ability to conduct generally acceptable examinations that truly reflect candidates’ performances.

HOWEVER, as commendable as JAMB’s efforts to streamline admission process is, the underwhelming performance of candidates who sat for the UTME in the past few years has not been encouraging. It is no cheering news that only a paltry 24           percent of the candidates who sat this year’s UTME scored 50 per cent  and above in the test. This wave of poor performance by Nigerian students in UTME did not start today. Since 2018, at least 74 percent of applicants  scored below the average mark of 200 in the exercise. The latest mark is a disturbing pattern of poor performance that started seven years ago.

THE  last time, more than 30 percent of students scored above average in the exercise was in 2016 when 35 percent of applicants scored above 200. Hoping there should be an improvement, instead, the abysmal performance of candidates in this important examination continued as the last four years results fell below expectation. In the year 2020, 404, 740 students scored over 200 marks out of the 1.9 million that sat for the examination. In the year 2021, out of 1.4 million candidates who sat for the examination,168, 613 scored 200 marks and above. In the year 2022, 378,639 of the1.8 million who wrote the UTME scored 200 and above, in 2023, 76.7 % scored  below 200 out of 1,595, 779 who sat for the examination.

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IN the just released 2024 UTME results, 76 percent  of the 1.9 million students who sat for the examination scored below 200, while the remaining 24 percent  scored above 200. The exam body also noted that 64,624 results are under investigation for verification, procedural investigation of candidates, centre-based investigation and alleged examination misconduct. For a fact, the mass failure in this year’s UTME and every other exercise over the past few years is an indication that the country’s education sector has also failed and urgently need a total overhaul.

THOUGH, some blame the recent mass failure in UTME on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and other distractive social media platforms, it should be noted that these platforms could be used to advance learning as well. What is much truer is the fact that many candidates have become complacent and relaxed about academic success.  Firstly, the government must as a matter of priority significantly increase the percent of allocation to the education sector, especially primary and secondary levels. This funding must be backed by a renewed policy plan that reflects the current status of things in the sector and is based on realistic performance objectives in the short and long-terms.

ANOTHER  player in the blame game is lack of infrastructure in some CBT centres. Some candidates experienced technical glitches like inability of the computer to recognize their fingerprints. Others encountered server issues, preventing them from logging in which limited the time allotted for the subjects. Another factor for the UTME poor performance was the distance barrier experienced by some students who live in remote areas and had to travel far distance for the examination.

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WHILE JAMB deserves our commendation for exerting its will  power to use technology to curb examination malpractice, The Hope calls on the board to put modalities in place in addressing deficit infrastructure in some of the CBT centres before the next examination.  Candidates should be trained more on ICT and the time for commencement of the examination on each day should be adjusted from 7am to 8am because of candidates coming from far distance.

While we charge teachers to be diligent in their noble profession of building future leaders, The Hope also calls on government to act decisively at improving academic performance of students through yearly recruitment of qualified and dedicated teachers and prompt payment of their salaries with an improved condition of service for motivation.

TO address this ugly trend  The Hope urges parents to be good role models to their children, avoid compelling their children to study any course against their wishes because experience had shown that students can only excel in the courses that interest them. We also appeal to parents to inculcate in  their wards the virtue and spirit of diligence which is the surest way to success. We also call on students to shun all forms of distractions and prepare for the rigour that academic endeavour requires since there is no short cut to success except hard work.

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