When the news of cancellation of post UME test by universities was released, many people, not excluding this writer, heaved a very big sigh of relief. The expression of joy on the faces of parents across the country, simply showed how bitter they hated to live with the trauma of post-UME test, also known as aptitude test or admission screening.
Apart from the stress parents and potential university candidates were subjected to under the aegis of undergoing universities admissions test, the financial involvement was, to say the least, unbearable to Nigerian university degree seekers.
Candidates were made to pay through their noses just to have their names enlisted for admissions into their choice areas of study, without minding the outcome of the so-called test which was usually computer-based.
The entire essence of adopting a computer-based approach to screen the successful JAMB candidates, was to actually ascertain the reliability of their acclaimed performances at the JAMB examination. This, to a very large extent, was designed to invalidate the efforts of JAMB fraudsters.
This whole effort of the university management in collaboration with the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board was an experiment, punctured by Nigerian fraudsters who would always aim at exploring avenues to perpetrate their fraudulent acts, irrespective of the system they have found themselves.
The post-UME screening suddenly lost its credibility as the ability of candidates to be successful in the exercise depended largely on their capability at meeting up their financial requirement to scale through. Many poor candidates and parents, resigned to fate as there would always be a way-out for the hopeless.
But then, many concerned citizens had called for the cancellation of the post-UME screening since the Joint Admissions and Matriculations exams are now computer based. They argued that it would amount to a duplication of efforts and tantamount to a waste of time, money and manpower.
They believed that for a candidate to weather the storm of JAMB examination via the computer system, he or she needs no further test to authenticate their qualification for admission into the university.
Without mincing words, the adoption of the computer-based approach by JAMB is, by extension, an elimination of fraud, thus the method alone validates the outcome of the exams which renders any further effort at screening the successful candidates by way of academic test unnecessary.
This is probably why the Federal Government deemed it imperative to abolish the post-UME screening system and subsequently placed sanction on any tertiary institution that may ask for money for any screening exercise. The government then approves only Senior Secondary School Certificate and JAMB results as pre-requisites for admission into Nigerian university
Unfortunately, parents who had expressed joy at the abolition of the former system, now seem to chant their woes at the requirement of the new system. They speculate that the new system would further encourage fraud at the ordinary level’s examinations since candidates must pass their ordinary level’s exams at one sitting and with high grades.
The writer is of the view that the recently approved method of screening for university admissions should be reviewed. Perhaps, a little reminiscence into the 1980s and 90’s admission approach may serve as a better guide. The only challenge of that era was the loss of confidence in the JAMB exams as candidates employed the use of marcenaries to pass their papers.
Now that there is an utmost reliability on the JAMB examination as having the potential to produce the right stock for university admissions, is it not better we emphasise on at least five credit passes in one’s core courses and English language and Mathematics, leaving performance in JAMBto determine the aptitude?
With the current requirements for ‘O’ level papers as a pre-requisite for admissions into Nigerian universities, I am afraid, curbing crime in Nigeria’s secondary education would remain a mirage.