JAMB confirms UTME candidates’ poor performance, blames coronavirus

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has confirmed that the performance of candidates in this year’s Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) is poorer than what it recorded within the past three years or thereabouts.

The JAMB Registrar, Is-haq Oloyede, confirmed this on Saturday evening while appearing on a live programme on a Nigerian Television Authority’s (NTA) programme tagged ”Weekend File.”

Mr Oloyede, who blamed the development on the truncation of academic calendar due to the rampaging coronavirus pandemic, also listed what he described as peculiar environmental factors in Nigeria such as insecurity, among others.

He, however, cautioned critics that the performance would not affect the chances of the candidates in securing admission to their chosen higher institutions, saying the UTME is a ranking examination and not an achievement test.

Reeling out the statistics on the programme, Mr Oloyede said when the data of candidates who scored 120 marks and above out of the possible 400 in 2021 is compared to what obtained in 2020, there is a difference of 0.25 per cent. But it is worse when 2018 and 2019 performances are taken into consideration.

According to the registrar, the percentage of those who scored 120 marks and above out of the possible 400 in 2021 is 99.65 of the entire candidates but the figure stood at 99.80 in 2020.

He said: ”In 2018, it was 99.99 per cent but in 2019 it dropped to 99.92.

“Also, in 2020, 69.82 per cent of the total candidates who sat the UTME scored 160 and above but in 2021, it reduced to 65.62 per cent.”

Mr Oloyede added that in 2019, the percentage of those who scored more than 300 out of the possible 400 marks was 0.16 per cent while it was 0.26 per cent in 2020. But in 2021, he said the figure fell steeply to 0.06 per cent.

JAMB, which had consistently refuted the claim that it was responsible for the candidates’ poor performance, said its questions were set from the syllabus, copies of which it claimed were made available to candidates through about three different platforms.

The reaction was in response to what it described as a “fluke” that only 14 per cent passed the examination this year.

The examination body said a total of 1,415,501 registered for both UTME and direct entry (DE).

“Out of this figure, 1,340,003 candidates registered for UTME and 75, 498 registered for DE,” a statement signed by JAMB spokesman, Fabina Benjamin, had said in part.

It added that; “The total number of candidates who took the UTME is 1,300,722 with 78 389 candidates absent.”

Meanwhile, the JAMB registrar said Nigerians should be worried if the performance has been otherwise in the just concluded examination.

Mr Oloyede anchored his position on the global instability caused by the coronavirus disease.

He said: ”But this is expected. In Nigeria, we think we do not live in a global community. All informed education experts understand why it is so. They knew the point at which we were in the academic calendar before the examination was taken in 2020 and in 2021.

“Last year, when they took the examination, they (the students) had gone far in their syllabus. But this year, they suffered incomplete academic sessions; they had to cope with emergency online lessons and even many other disturbances like insecurity.”

He said the result is a true reflection of the country’s state of education, saying “somebody should be surprised if there is no such an effect on the students’ performance.”

Mr Oloyede, who said UTME is a ranking test and not an achievement one, likens it to a race where sprinters are ranked based on the time they reach the touchline.

He said: ”But in an achievement test, you would have determined the pass mark even before the test. That is, you have something like scoring 50 per cent stands for “C” or scoring 40 per cent represents “D,” and so on like that. Promotion examination to another class in a school is a ranking examination but at the certification level, such as senior school certificate examinations, what we have are achievement examinations.

“So, as far as UTME is concerned, it is a ranking examination. Therefore, there is neither pass nor failure, because it is not the UTME that qualifies its candidates for admission. Between 10 and 15 per cent of the candidates who seek admission through JAMB don’t even sit for the examination, and they even start in 200 level based on their A-level. But if you score 400 in UTME and you do not have five credits in SSCE, then you are not qualified for an admission.”

He said UTME only became necessary because the number of those who are eager to get admitted into the higher institution in the country are more than the number of the available spaces, “so we are conducting the UTME to rank them.”

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