There were strong indications at the weekend that the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) may jettison the uniform cut-off point for admission into tertiary institutions in the country.
Speaking on the issue on Sunday, JAMB Registrar, Prof Is-haq Oloyede, said there was an urgent need to have an urgent rethink on the current cut-off point for admission in order to strengthen access to education, particularly for the poor.
Presently, the federal government had pegged 180 mark as the cut-off point for admission into all tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
Oloyede explained that it was critical for “all notable stakeholders to rethink the issue of cut-off marks.
“ I am calling for national debate on the propriety of cut-off marks. Institutions should be allowed to determine the kind of candidates they want.”
He argued that “the uniformity of cut-off marks does not make any sense when colleges and polytechnics admit for NCE and diplomas while universities admit for degrees and yet we subject them to the same cut-off marks thereby starving these tier of institutions from admitting candidates who if not engaged, may likely become easy prey to social vices.”
Oloyede expressed worry over the class opportunities as it affects the distribution of admission resources.
“The rich have multiple opportunities which include going abroad for studies while the poor only have the opportunity of struggling for the scarce spaces here”.
He said the rich children write JAMB and if they do not get the required cut-off marks, they are taken out of the country for studies abroad.
“They come back and they are integrated while the poor can’t afford it and are forever denied the opportunity of education. Let institutions admit what they want according to their needs.
“This means that if a university wants 250 as minimum cut-off marks why not ? And if another wants less, so be it.
“If a polytechnics like Yaba Tech wants 250 let them admit and if Gboko polytechnics in Benue State wants less than 200 let them admit.
“Institutions should be known for their individual quality and not collective standard. This will foster positive competition for the overall good of our tertiary institutions,” he said.
Oloyede urged Nigerians to look at this critically for the board to take action that would be for the good of our education.
He said JAMB management had resolved to ensure that the change agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari concerning education is actualised in no distance time.
The JAMB boss added that this would be made possible through reforms currently going on in the board, stating that the board would continue to make reforms that would carry the interest of every Nigerian child irrespective of whether poor or rural settlers.
Oloyede also expressed concern over the exclusion of the poor in education, arguing that, “most policies are geared towards accommodating the interest of the elite only and leaving the downtrodden to suffer unjustly.”
He said: “In view of the above, the board has cancelled the use of scratch cards which were hitherto sold only by banks in the cities to pin vendors which can be obtained by candidates anywhere using their phones, web payment, online quick teller; ATM payment, quick teller mobile application and bank branch (cash cards), among others.
“This is to make the services easily accessible, discourage fraudulent acts associated with the cards system and to conform with global best practice.”
The Registrar also disclosed that the board has critically looked at the process of regularising candidates and found a lot of lapses which it cannot tolerate in its drive to effect positive change towards enhancing the fortune of tertiary education in Nigeria.
He maintained that “in its efforts to discourage this abuse and perhaps stop it permanently, JAMB has designed a template to be completed on-line by candidates and endorsed by the Vice-Chancellors, Rectors, Provosts or Registrars of the candidates institutions which will then be submitted to the board’s offices nearer to the institution for the Registrar’s approval subject to available evidence.
“JAMB may deny approval if sufficient and convincing reasons are not given.
“The public is to note that all admissions are done by the academic board of tertiary institutions and submitted to the board which ensures that the admissions meet set requirements by proprietors of these institutions and government criteria.
“As such there is no basis for regularisation. The board only designs this process to clear any backlog as it doesn’t intend to continue with regularisation exercise again.”
The decision by JAMB to tinker with the uniform cut-off point is likely to attract criticisms given similar opposition to the different admission policies and cut-off point for admission.