Opinion: The problem with JAMB
By Aneyo Oyekola
It is very vital to note that the six years spent in secondary school is not geared at preparing secondary school leavers for JAMB. It is principally focused on preparing students for WASSE, GCE and NECO. – Aneyo Oyekola
The name Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, sends jitters into the spines of its numerous applicants. I got my first share of this frenzy with the other 400,193 applicants who sat for the University Matriculation Examination, UME, in 1999. The experience of that day lingers in my memory as if it were yesterday. Like almost every fresh candidate, the fear of failure consumed my mind based on the tales of my older friends, relatives and importantly the expectation of my parents. Unaware of what will become of me after an intense brainstorming of two hundred and fifty questions in just three and half hours, all I desired on that day was to get it done regardless of the outcome of my score.
Amazingly, over a decade gone by, the mindset and the approach of an average applicant has not changed and our educational standard has not improved but the societal expectation of these applicants is very high. This has in a way driven young Nigerians and some with parental assistance into the 200 mark syndrome. It is very vital to note that the six years spent in the secondary school is not geared at preparing secondary school leavers for JAMB. It is principally focused on preparing students for WASSE, GCE and NECO. This faulty foundation has given rise to special centers and has also created avenues for unscrupulous individuals to enrich themselves prior to any JAMB examination. Adverts like “SCORE 250+ IN JAMB” pervade our streets to cajole students to get them into mischievous coaching centers.
At the same time, JAMB as an organization has remained dogged in its desire to have credible applicants enter into our varsities. The examination consists of 4 subjects with English-Language made compulsory and three other relevant subjects based on the applicants’ course of discipline. The question JAMB has left unanswered is what foundation or yardstick they base their standards on. Without a doubt, majority of its applicants are school leavers who are not equipped with adequate knowledge, psychology, and technicality required to excel in an examination of its magnitude. Although, all its questions are set in the objectives format, it is by far more discrete, complex, and craftily constructed compared to questions set in SSCE, NECO and others put together.
Amazingly, our society has left another generation of applicants in the jaws of JAMB. When the results come out, we will lament again about the huge number of failures. Our government needs to brace up and acknowledge the fact that there is a great gulf between exams like WAEC and JAMB. The Ministry of Education at both the state and federal government levels should wake up and propel our policies and structures to seriously prepare our youths for the JAMB exam. Unless a change is made, the failure of our applicants will continue and the desperation of our students’ hearts will continue to foster corruption.