Just one year ago, the Federal Government banned all tertiary institutions across the country from conducting Post-Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), an examination conducted by tertiary institutions for admission into universities and other institutions of higher learning in the country.
The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, explained that the government had to take such decision basically for lack of empirical evidence to show that since the inception of Post-UTME, universities had been having better students. He expressed unhappiness that students were still being expelled annually for low performance even as they gained admission through Post-UTME.
The Minister also complained that, in a bid to have their children and wards write the Post-UTME, many parents and guardians have had to spend fortunes on transportation, hotel accommodation, examination fees and sundry costs, while some lost their lives on transit, a situation he described as painful and avoidable.
Above all, Adamu did not see any justification for the Post-UTME since he said “the nation has confidence in what JAMB is doing”.
As if nothing on earth could make him renege on the ban, Malam Adamu decreed that, “if any tertiary institution has already conducted Post-UTME, such an exercise stands annulled and money taken from candidates must be refunded”.
He was unequivocal on the Federal Government’s resolve to punish any institution that violates the directive. Although this development did not go down well with the Academic Staff Union of the Universities (ASUU), many parents, guardians and non-governmental organizations such as Education Rights Campaign (ERC) described the ban as a welcome relief.
This, according to them, would not only relieve parents of the financial burden associated with such examination every year, it was also a reassurance of people’s confidence and trust in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).
To say that the Post-UTME posed a financial burden on parents is grossly an understatement; it was really exploitative. However, the public considered the ban as a wake-up call for the Federal Government to address identified lapses in the conduct of the UTME so as to ensure that results from such examination would be held in high esteem.
Again, scraping the universities’ method of trimming down the number of candidates they can accommodate at a time, places on the government a duty to provide enough space to accommodate as many candidates as would be offered provisional admission by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), especially against the backdrop of the fact that insufficient academic space and facilities have been a major bane of the nation’s tertiary education.
Unfortunately, while the public awaited the response of the Federal Government in this direction, it was stunned by a publication by the Nation’s Newspaper of Thursday, August 17 with the headline; “Federal Government gives varsities nod to conduct Post-UTME”.
The news revealed that “the Federal Government has lifted the ban on the conduct of examination usually organized by universities for admission seekers after the UTME”.
Declaring that tertiary institutions in the country are free to organise Post-UTME screening as a pre-condition for gaining admission into higher institutions, the Minister of Education explained that the Federal Government scrapped the controversial examination in order to fully understand what was going on in the institutions. He added that the government is now wiser regarding the conduct of the examination.
This sudden volte face by the government has attracted criticisms. I can not agree less with the views that the government’s somersault portrays it as one without initiative. Or is it that the Federal Government did not consider the cost of commitment before it pronounced such a ban?
The mere declaration by the Education Minister that the Federal Government is “now wiser regarding the conduct of the Post-UTME” just barely one year after it banned the process, smacks of a leadership that is bereft of ideas and will to right the wrongs.
If the government had truly monitored the goings-on in tertiary institutions over the years and discovered that the conduct of the Post-UTME leaves much to be desired, for which it placed a ban on it as an interventionary measure, then, could one year be seen to be enough for such a premature regret?
The cancellation of the Post-UTME, only to be reinstated barely a year after, presents this administration as not capable of fixing the problems of the nation’s education. Otherwise, why would the government make policies it does not have the will to sustain?