Grand Master - , 2:57 am On 9 Sep 2017
Even the least informed Nigerian is aware of the decision by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, on Tuesday, to drastically reduce its admission cut-off marks for universities and polytechnics at 120 and 100 over 400 respectively.
Expectedly, the decision was greeted by understandable huge criticisms. The type capable of forcing the management of the establishment to reverse its decision, if only it considers the critics for a twinkle of an eye.
Virtually everyone on social media is talking about JAMB; telling sorry tales of how they scored more than times two of the new cut-off marks and yet were denied admission in the not too recent past. Whether their claims are sincere or otherwise, the truth is the JAMB of old is far better than today’s. If the experience of not a few Nigeria is anything to go by, it is no longer efficient compared to what obtained in the past.
Even though JAMB Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, was much praised for remitting billions of naira into the federation account, recently, the latest cut-off mark decision is seen by many stakeholders and concerned citizens as a pollution to his earlier achievements. At least, the revenue generated from the sale of admission forms to over a million desperate admission seeking candidates by the body is not what matters but its efficiency and impact on the society.
After all said, the question that keeps troubling my mind is, What is the big deal in JAMB “stooping so low” to make its cut-off marks? With the current reality in Nigeria, why should we be surprised JAMB peg cut-off marks to a quota lesser than average? Why the public show of disappointment and sympathy for our educational failure?
To be frank, the decision is a pointer to the fact that we abhor (academic) excellence. For truly, 120/400 is nothing but outright failure. But, is the cut-off mark even useful, after all?
The sad case where admission in Nigeria is a matter of whom you know — your connection — and not what you know — your JAMB score — readily comes to mind while reflecting on the new cut-off marks.
Before now when 180-200 was the cut-off for varsities, one still remained puzzled about how those with high scores were not considered for admission, on merit, at least.
The decision indirectly tells Nigerians that hard work, academic excellence and brilliance are no longer appreciated since another unsporting means has been deployed in securing admission.
JAMB scores have been so relegated that getting to know professors in the department of your choice gives you greater chance of being admitted than a brilliant chap with double of your its score.
Since manipulation, corruption, “padi-padi”, nepotism, pecuniary influences, among others are the chief determinants of admission in Nigeria, I see no big deal in the new cut-offs. Even if the cut-off marks were high or low, it is of little use, after all.
Even a candidate with 120 who knows a least influential employee in the varsity of choice could be considered for admission over a prodigy with 270. That is the reason I attach little or no value to JAMB or varsity cut-off marks any longer. That, unfortunately, has been the experience of many a Nigerian admission seeker. To many, those cut-off marks are as useless as the P in psychology.
This exposition is in no way an approach to justify or encourage manipulation in admission processes. Corruption in admission lingers since no approach has been made to curb it. Virtually everyone is involved in it. Vice-Chancellors, registrars, lecturers and others. Since gaining admission into a university is generally an extraordinary difficulty, all measures, legal or extra-legal, have been deployed by our people to ensure gaining entrance. That is our collective reality. And until something is done about this, the rigmarole continues and the JAMB cut-off remains ever helpless.
The “Nigerian factor” in admission processes should be the matter that must be urgently addressed in order to make meaning of cut-off points in general. At least, the side effect of the manipulated admission processes can never be overemphasised.
The tragedy of our educational system is a complex one. And the joke is in all of us.
Festus Ogun is a Law undergraduate, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye