Appraisal of new JAMB Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) in tertiary institutions in Nigeria: A study of higher institutions in Ebonyi State
Background of Study
The aim of establishing JAMB is to find solutions to some problems identified in the admission to higher institutions in Nigeria. These problems included multiple applications for admissions, multiple admissions to institutions and entrance examinations (Onwunli and Agho, 2004). When the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) was established, the Board is to conduct examinations and offer admission to successful candidates. Admission to higher institutions in Nigeria is controlled by JAMB, which is responsible for preparing and administering the admission examinations and compiling the results. JAMB gives strict guidelines to institutions on the choice of candidates to admit. It is the responsibility of JAMB to make the final decision and offer candidates admission to their institution of choice. Admissions requirements were based on JAMB exam scores and the Board determines the cut-off points too. The federal government of Nigeria established JAMB in order to give every Nigerian citizen aspiring to further his/her education equal opportunity by writing a uniform examination, address the problem of multiple admissions and to ensure that the issue of federal character is properly handled in the admission process.
At that point then, as a policy, the entry qualifications for a candidate seeking admissions for degree programmes, National Diploma (ND) or National Certificate on Education (NCE) is that such candidate must have passed the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) examination or the National Examination Council (NECO) with at least five credits, at one or two sittings. This must include credit passes in English Language and Mathematics.
However, the candidate must write and pass Universities Matriculation Examination (UME) or Monotechnics, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education Matriculation Examination (MPCE). The two examinations are conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB). Hence, at a time it was deemed necessary that Unified Tertiary Matriculation Exam (UTME) should take up the separated exams as one for ease of assessment, better evaluation as well as bridging the gap between the people’s perceptions on Monotechnics, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education Matriculation Examination (MPCE) as being inferior and for the have-nots compared to Universities Matriculation Examination (UME).
The process of JAMB includes the manual registration which had many flaws and burdensome until the online registration was introduced. This starts by the student purchasing the University Matriculation Examination (UME) form from designated banks. After which the student is expected to complete the form and return to JAMB office for processing. This later was made easier when JAMB registration was done online. After the registration, the student wait until it is about two weeks of exam when it is expected of the student to print the Photocard for exam as well as check center he/she was posted to. The student reports to the exam venue on or before 9:00am and wait to be screened. This was done manually some years back until when the use of biometric scanner was introduced in the registration flow. After the exam comes another important period in the students’ life which is checking of the JAMB result. Once the result is released, the next stage in the process is that JAMB will send the results to Universities or Polytechnics chosen by the candidates, so that each institution selects and recommends candidates to JAMB for admission. However, each institution is allowed to conduct post UTME screening for candidates before selecting those to recommend.
JAMB admits qualified candidates by Direct Entry also to Universities or Polytechnics that recommend them. The Board also collates and disseminates information on all matters relating to admissions into tertiary institutions in Nigeria or any other relevant to the discharge of functions of the Board.
The Emergence of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) The UTME which took effect from 2010 is part of the Roadmap for the education sector by the Federal Ministry of Education to rebrand and reposition the Nigerian Education Sector to ensure that it plays a pivotal role in human capital development needed for the attainment of socio-economic and political growth in the country, and as one of the turnaround strategies. Consequently, JAMB was mandated to conduct UTME, a unified common entrance examination into tertiary institutions in the country.
By this policy, the Federal Government of Nigeria has merged the UME and the MPCME for candidates seeking admission into the universities, polytechnics, monotechnics and colleges of education respectively. This is to improve access and the quality of entrants into tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
UTME is expected to replace THE Universities Matriculation Examination and the Monotechnics, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education Matriculation Examination. The new examination system which begins next year no doubt calls for sufficient public enlightenment and sensitization of the VARIOUS stakeholders.
Statement of the Problem
The students seeking for admissions are more than the existing universities, polytechnics and colleges of educations we have in Nigeria. In Nigeria, before a prospective student is granted admission, he/she is made to write matriculation examination, called Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB). The Joint Admission and Matriculation Board handle the admission and matriculation matters of universities, colleges of education and the polytechnics in Nigeria. Every year, it conducts examinations for candidates seeking admission into all higher institutions in Nigeria. After the results of the examination are out, based on recommendation from the institutions, the board approves the placement of the recommended candidates into the various institutions. As a result, the board gets involved in university administration through its admissions and matriculation policies (Akinola, 1993). The purpose of such matriculation examination is to select the best prospective student from among the pool of students that applied for admission. The student performance in the matriculation examinations, depend on several variables or factors.
The question is what informed this policy? The policy was initiated as a result of attempts by the federal government and all concerned PARTIES in the education sector to find lasting solutions to the problems associated with access and the quality of entrants into the nation’s tertiary institutions. In the past decade, the educational system has witnessed too many policy changes with negative impact on student and their parents as well. It is against this backdrop that the federal government decided to overhaul the entire education system and the unification of the tertiary matriculation examination is therefore part of the positive steps in that direction. It is expected however, that UTME when operational will go a long way to place candidates in the right institutions, ensure harmonization of academic calendars of tertiary institutions, improvement of technical and vocational education and improvement in the quality of teachers. There is no gain saying the fact as a new examination concept may experience some basic challenges.
These challenges include acceptability, effectiveness of personnel, inadequate centres, and security both at the examination centres and for the examination materials. Under this new arrangement, all candidates seeking admission into the universities, polytechnics and colleges of education would sit for the same examination the same day. The candidates would be allowed to choose up to six different schools, two from each of the tertiary institutions. Those who fail to be admitted into the universities would be admitted into the polytechnics and colleges of education. This arrangement according to many educationists would boost polytechnic education and reduce cost on the part of the candidates. In realization of this, the syllabus and brochures of the examinations are expected to be harmonized while some polytechnics would begin to award Bachelor of Technology Degrees. One pertinent issue that is yet unresolved is the lack of interest in polytechnics and colleges of education among young students. Universities consider only first choice candidates for admission. As the entire nation looks forward to embracing the new examination system, the policy makers should strive to avoid anything capable of truncating this laudable venture. To this end, it is believed that Professor Ojerinde and his team at JAMB would leave no stone unturned to ensure that enough infrastructures and manpower are provided for a successful implementation of the new Unified Entrance Examination to tertiary institutions.
In the light of this, the researcher tried to looked into the appraisal of new Unified Tertiary Matriculation examination (UTME) in tertiary institutions in Nigeria, using three institutions of higher learning in Ebonyi State as a study.
Purpose of the study
This study is focused on Appraisal of new JAMB Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) in tertiary institutions in Nigeria: A study of Ebonyi state University, Uwanna Polytechnic and Ebonyi State College of Education. Specifically, the study is set to:
- To ascertain the quality of UTME’s assessment instruments.
- Ascertain the effect of the present Unified mode of JAMB admission procedure on the admission quota of Ebonyi State University, Uwanna Polytechnic and Ebonyi State College of Education.
- To ascertain the efficiency of the Board’s activities through collaborative effort.
- Determine the relative weakness of UTME as admission criteria for Ebonyi State University, Uwanna Polytechnic and Ebonyi State College of Education.
Significance of Study
The findings of this study will be of importance to the students, lecturers, school administrators, National University Commission, the federal Government, researchers and other users of information.
To the students, it will give them the needed information as regards the Joint Admission and Matriculation present Examination admission processes, the Computer-Base Test (CBT) use as well as Unified admission application processes. It will also guide prospective university students in the best ways of making choices in university, polytechnic as well colleges of education. Hence, reducing the effect of double admission on other prospective students who might because of admission quota or score be denied of admission.
To the lecturers, it will help them to know what to expect in the classroom and the number of students being expected as well the best teaching method to employ so as to reach them effectively.
To the school administrators, it will help them in making appropriate plan and budget for the year in terms of school facilities, accommodation, instructional resources and materials and other administrative costs.
To the federal government, it will help them to better understand their role in admission processes of university, polytechnic and colleges of education.
For researchers, this study will provide them with the needed information and material for further studies and referencing and finally benefit other users of information.
The following research questions guided the study:
- In what ways does the present instruments for UTME’s mode of assessment reliable?
- What are the effect of the present Unified mode of JAMB admission procedure on the admission quota of Ebonyi State University, Uwanna Polytechnic and Ebonyi State College of Education?
- How efficient are the UTME’s activities through collaborative effort with the institutions?
- What are the relative weaknesses of UTME as admission criteria for Ebonyi State University, Uwanna Polytechnic and Ebonyi State College of Education?
Scope of the Study
This study is on Appraisal of new JAMB Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) in tertiary institutions in Nigeria with regards to the following higher institutions in Ebonyi State: Ebonyi State University, Abakasliki; Akanu-Ibiam Federal Polytechnic Unwana and Ebonyi State College of Education, Ikwo.
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