Thursday, 7 July 2016

(PSO) Point System Option: Minister, JAMB deepening confusion over admissions – Stakeholders

Fresh, resonating calls are being made for the scrapping of national tertiary admissions clearing house, JAMB, over controversies generated since Education Minister, Mallam Adamu Adamu announced the scrapping of post-UTME tests by universities. Earlier in the week, after a meeting with administrators of universities and other tertiary institutions, the Joint Admissions & Matriculations Board announced yet another system by which students seeking admission into tertiary institutions can be admitted. This new system is called the Point System Option, or PSO.

Stakeholders, especially university administrators and lecturers are demanding that JAMB be scrapped. They also want full autonomy restored to the universities. They argued that since the buck of the admission process ends on the table of each university, it is only prudent that they are autonomous. They maintained that the ultimate authority on academic matters, particularly with regards to admission and award of degrees, in a university globally is the Senate of the University, not a government agency or a minister who is having difficulties prioritizing the concerns of his ministry. Candidates who sat for the 2015 UTME and scored 180 and above have been waiting endlessly for institutions to announce admission guidelines. JAMB had on Monday during its meeting with universities and other tertiary institutions’ administrators adopted Point System Option for provisional admission into tertiary institutions in Nigeria. The admission process would work for Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination candidates and direct entry students while universities are to charge fees for screening of candidates at the end of the process for admission. The Point System Option PSO is a process whereby candidate’s total points are gotten from the ‘O’ Level grades and JAMB scores’. It means each grade would have its equivalent point; A=6 marks, B=4 marks, C=3 marks. The system suggests that the better a candidates’ O’ Level grades, the better his or her chances of securing admission. Closely allied to the above, is the candidate’s UTME score. The UTME scores have been grouped where each score range has its equivalent point. According to JAMB, candidates with 180-185 get 20 points; candidates with 186-190 get 21 points; candidates who scored between 200-250 in JAMB get 24-33 points while those who score 300-400 will get 44-60 points. Besides, JAMB said: ‘’Any candidate who submits only one result which contains his/her relevant subjects already has 10 points. The exam could be NECO, WASSCE, November/December WASSCE etc, but any candidate who has two sittings only gets 2 points.” In essence, a candidate who has only one sitting is likely to get more points than those who have multiple sittings. Thus, the addition of these points and points from your O’ Level results give you a total points for admission. “Cut-off marks will be released by the institutions this year in the form of points, and not marks,” said JAMB. Here lies the clause as stated by JAMB: “If a school declares its cut-off mark for Medicine as 90 points and JAMB grants a candidate with 250 a provisional admission but his/her total points falls short of the 90 points, then he/she will lose the admission. So the provisional admission is just a means to an end, not the end in itself.” Meanwhile, before a candidate can be considered for the above screening, he/she must have been offered a provisional admission by JAMB. FME, JAMB don’t know what they want — Aremu Deputy Director, Distance Learning Centre, University of Ibadan, Professor Oyesoji Aremu in his reaction described the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB and the Federal Ministry of Education as institutions which lack policy direction on the Nigerian education sector. He said: “JAMB and the Federal Ministry of Education seem not to understand what they exactly want for education in Nigeria in respect of candidates seeking admission. Within a spate of a month, JAMB has ‘foisted’ two admission policies on the country.” He lamented that while the initial cancellation of Post-UTME is generating controversy and still being debated, the body came out with the latest one, Point System Option. He pointed out that few weeks ago, JAMB through the Minister of Education, ‘decreed’ that money must not be charged by universities for pre-admission exercise, while the latest development stated that universities would charge fee for screening at the end of the process of admission. ‘’What do we call that? Confusion!” Aremu, however said that the latest 2016 Guideline for Tertiary Admission which JAMB called Point System Option is good, adding that it is quality-driven and would not make admission to be solely dependent on UTME Scores. He noted that the initiative is a reflection that JAMB scores are not fool-proof as evident in unsubstantiated scores and post-admission academic performance. He said: ‘’University of Ibadan used to have this policy prior to Post-UTME test. It was 60 points for WAEC/NECO and 40 points for obtained JAMB scores. “In effect the Ibadan model is good as being currently championed by JAMB. “Recall that the 2015 admission exercise by JAMB was equally contentious when the body unilaterally offered candidates admission to universities they did not apply to. It is about time, JAMB for once should be seen to be consistent in its admission policies in Nigeria.” Minister deepening confusion — Odukoya On his part, UNILAG-ASUU Chairman, Dr Laja Odukoya said that with the actions and policies taking so far, the Minister of Education has deepened the confusion he created. He said: ‘’Clearly the minister is merely deepening the confusion he has created based on ill-conceived policy and lack of courage to do what is right.” He reiterated that the point system which he now introduced was in use at the University of Ibadan and jettisoned by UI at the introduction of post-UTME. He posited that the minister by his latest policy somersault has admitted that JAMB cannot be trusted with university admission. He said: “The minister’s position is sadly a historical as it ignores factors that brought about post-UTME in the first instance. “With the new arrangement, candidates of miracle centres who brought their scores in WASCE, NECO and UTME are advantaged over hard-working, honest and diligent students. ‘’Verifiable data from universities since the commencement of post-UTME as proof that those admitted through Post-UTME are academically better given the reduced drop-out rate as a consequence of poor academic performance after the first year in the university. ‘’The minister should have the courage to do the right thing. JAMB has failed. It should be scrapped. Universities should be given their autonomy to chose their students. Even the new policy still allow for payment for screening.” He continued, ‘’The minister’s directive is the illogicality of our quasi, and feeding-bottle federalism carried to a ridiculous extreme. Education is on the concurrent list and private universities not extension of government bureaucracy despite the need for uniform standards. “Two years ago, the National Assembly had a public hearing on scraping Post-Jamb. The weight of evidence against JAMB made it impossible to scrapped Post-JAMB. “The very last UTME was most embarrassing with JAMB experiencing system failure. Affected students were dashed 40 marks each by JAMB! What a manner of examination body? “The ultimate authority on academic matters, particularly with regards to admission and award of degrees, in a university globally is the Senate of the University not any over-pampered and inefficient government agency or a minister who is having difficulties prioritizing the concerns of his ministry.”

By Dayo Adesulu