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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

JAMB and why it was established by Charles Chidi Azodo

JAMB was created in response to the growing demand for a centralized, transparent, and efficient admission process for Nigeria’s higher education institutions. The idea was to standardize admission requirements and processes into our universities and enhance diversity in student enrollment in the various universities throughout the country. In addition, its other goal is to reliably measure candidates’ abilities and determine their suitability for higher education. At its inception, the country had about 12 universities in 1978. Prior to its establishment candidates were applying to various universities for admission. They will have to travel to such universities or their designated centres to sit for the entrance exams. Many students met their untimely deaths due to road accidents plus most parents couldn’t afford the associated costs such as transportation and accommodation for their wards during this period. 

Furthermore, different universities had different standards and requirements and above all these universities were giving preferences to candidates coming from their areas of location known as catchment areas. The result was that these universities funded by the federal government were looking like ethnic enclaves with no reflection of ethnic diversity. The result was that many states started establishing universities to enhance opportunities for students from their ethnic groups. It was this sentiment that informed the establishment of state universities and second-generation universities by states and the federal government – to deepen and broaden diversity and opportunities for qualified candidates. 

In addition, many universities in the north initiated preliminary schools attached to their universities to prepare those students from the north who didn’t pass JAMB or make their papers in WAEC for direct university admissions after one year. These remedial programs were intensive and helped the North to catch up. Running closely with this was the establishment of schools of science and art and technology too. These also provided opportunities for direct entry into the university. Say what you may about the military administration from 1970-1978, they were imaginative in creating institutions to strengthen national cohesion. This included the NYSC. That these institutions are not performing up to expectations should be blamed on the civilian politicians.

JAMB was so competitive that the best of our best stayed at home and attended university here. The universities were fairly funded and attracted the best of intellectuals and academicians internationally and locally. Naira was strong then. Those who went abroad were those who couldn’t gain admission or whose parents had the resources to send them abroad. By 1978 the 12 universities could only admit about 12,000 students against the background of about estimated 700,000 that sat the exams. The competition was intense and so were the preparations.

It is shocking seeing how what started off as a laudable objective to standardize and rationalize the university admission process has over the years been underperforming and its system being undermined and its credibility challenged over time. The allegations of theft and mysteriously missing funds and result scores tampering have combined to erode its integrity and legitimacy. Cheating in the exams became rampant and candidates with high scores would end up at the various universities not meeting expectations. This raised lots of questions about the credibility of JAMB results. Above all the universities realised that a centralized admission process denied them control and additional sources of funding. 

So they complicated the process by introducing post-UMTE exams to verify the credibility of JAMB results. The outcome was an additional layer of admission plus associated costs to parents. In response to complaints of cheating,  the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) introduced a full-scale computer-based test (CBT) in the 2015 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) to eliminate examination malpractice and to facilitate examination registration and prompt release of results. Still, its capacity hasn’t improved much as poor conduct of examination and late release of results as well as cheating seemed to persist. With declining secondary school preparation and tutorial came the emergence of various examination centres that prepare students for exams. Many were not registered and they helped in perpetrating fraudulent exam malpractices on behalf of their candidates. 

Some are calling for the abrogation of JAMB but those are either ignorant or are concerned about raising money. I think the overdrive by JAMB to raise revenue for the government rather than invest in enhancing its capacity is contributing to the poor performance. I don’t know how the revenue it generates is applied but I think there is a need to consolidate the admission process by sharing the revenue with the various universities and on a rotational basis involve the various academic registers of the universities in the conduct of the examination

We must get to improve its performance and this will include reevaluating the process and systems and rationalizing its structure and establishing minimum competencies for those running the institution. I think recruiting from the cadre of university academic registers would be better than vice chancellor academics. Further engaging the universities on a rotational basis and sharing the revenues with them would help. 


The opinions and views expressed in this write-up are entirely that of the Writer(s). They do not reflect the opinions and views of the Publisher (Nze Ikay’s Blog) or any of its employees. The designations employed in this publication and the presentation of materials herein do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the Publisher (Nze Ikay’s Blog) or its employees concerning the legal status of any country, its authority, area or territory or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers. Equally, the sketches, images, pictures and videos are gotten from the public domain.

Some are calling for the abrogation of JAMB but those are either ignorant or are concerned about raising money.
Some are calling for the abrogation of JAMB but those are either ignorant or are concerned about raising money.
Nigeria is an Enigma. The capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of her is undoubtedly God’s endowment to us, her citizens. As a citizen of this lovely nation, I’ve spent decades of my life trying to understand this, Mirage. Hope someday, this Mystery that houses about 250 million blacks will be globally understood, widely accepted, and given the opportunity to play its vital role in the world stage. So, help us God! #NigeriaDeservesBetter #AfricaDeservesBetter

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