SIR: At the JAMB national policy meeting held in Abuja on Thursday, July 21, it was agreed by the stakeholders that 140/400 should be a minimum mark for a candidate seeking entry into a university; 120/400 for polytechnics and 100/400 for a college of education. Setting those marks showcases the murky state of this country’s education currently. We all know the kismet in such a situation like this. How long are we going to be promoted from our “developing” name given to us as a giant of Africa to a developed one? Is it when we cannot set a standard for our higher institutions of learning and invest our last card on education and the youths who will use their inbuilt skill together with their educational knowledge to garner technological innovation as Nordic countries?

The disparity in the pass mark have invoked an underlying crisis for years which is supposed to have been amended, for the kind of problem it creates for the young graduates seeking employment in the labour market. Polytechnics and Colleges of Education students feel inferior although, the fire of HND/BSc. dichotomy has been doused by the National Assembly but it still persists. And the onset of the problem can be traced to a moment like this when JAMB pegged the minimum mark for admission into each tertiary school. And it is quite unfortunate that, the stakeholders indulge this kind of conundrum.

That is why some people are clamoring for upgrading of their local communities’ colleges and polytechnics into universities for none of the candidates wish to go to either college of education or polytechnic and if these occurs, then the aims and objectives behind establishing these institutions are not achieved.

If the sort of treatment given to university is shared to polytechnics, unnecessary tension would not have risen. The evidence of such tension could be traced to the recent conversion of LASPOTECH and Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education to universities by the governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwolu, which has now been effected.

According to University World news, in 2014 at the meeting of college and university leaders of the Chinese Development Forum, the vice minister for educational ministry Lu Xin, announced their decision to turn many of their degree- awarding institutions to polytechnics to focus more on technical and vocational training. So, the annual pass mark that JAMB does announce for the polytechnics have implanted a certain impression on the candidates and members of the public about the technical institutions.

The last time we have a reasonable cut off for marks was 2014 during the era of Paper Pencil Test (PPT). Until 2015 when JAMB introduced Computer Based Test (CBT), to allay the possible  fear of not gaining admission and based on the level of performance of the candidates in the newly introduced mode of writing JAMB examination, the pass mark was cut down to 180/400  for the universities from their previous 200/400 though, some older universities like Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife, University of Ibadan, (UI) University of Nigeria, (UNN) Nsuka, University of Benin (UNIBEN) maintained their standard which they are still maintaining.

And also in 2016 when this current JAMB registrar, Isiaq Oloyede was appointed, nothing was changed. Even the post-JAMB examination that tertiary schools conducted to screen in their applicants was scrapped by the Minister of Education Malam Adamu, Adamu.

From 2016 downward, the pass mark grid continues to go down and down. Unknowingly, the inability to set a standard has stifled the spirit of seriousness on the part of candidates towards study, who only read to get a sole mark needed to get admission. The result of our failure and the disappearance of zeal to read by the candidates could be traced to mass failure in JAMB especially in the last two years.

Take a look at the percentage of the candidates who scored 200 above in this year JAMB; nobody will tell you that something is amiss. Actually, the stakeholders do examine the number of candidates who got a particular score before they proclaim their cut- off mark for a certain session and based on the available quota in the various tertiary schools. But that should not prevent the stakeholders from doing justice so as not to make university a do- or- die for the candidates to the detriment of other institutions of learning. And also there is a necessity for us to go back to the drawing board to review the university pass mark because 35% is not okay for a great institution of learning we termed an ivory tower.

 

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