120 Cut Off Mark: Between JAMB And The Policy Gurus


–  By Olaide Lukman Olaoluwa

A week ago, the Joint Admission and Matriculations Board (JAMB) announced the new cut-off mark for admission into Nigerian Higher Institutions. Nigerians were mostly bewildered if not aghast by the reduction of the cutoff which was previously pegged at 180 now at 120.

While I understand that policies are made for a country, therefore, for every reaction there must be a reaction. What I find distressing however is the way our policy gurus have put their arguments by reading the headline and not the content. 

Our policy gurus have complained that the reason JAMB adopted this new cut-off is as a result of the decline in our education. By implication, students would be unable to gain admission into their choice institutions without the reduction in cut-offs. This assertion is, unfortunately, an overreach as it must be said that the best WASSCE result in the past fifteen years was achieved this year.

Another Misconception our concerned policy gurus have subscribed to is the belief that JAMB was created to favour the northern admission seekers. This point is undoubtedly is wrong, a trip down the memory lane shows JAMB was created in 1978 under the regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo. The gurus have failed to realise that JAMB was created to regulate the number of applicants seeking admission into the increasing Nigerian Higher Institutions especially with the creation of the second generation universities in 1977 which includes the University Of PortHarcourt, University of Calabar, University of Ilorin and so on.

That said, one cannot but look at JAMB’s narrative for adopting this new policy, JAMB’s worry that the Nation loses close to five billion naira to educational tourism due to students failure in the Matriculation examination is quite unhelpful. JAMB enunciated this point by adding that students are lost yearly to countries like Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana, e.t.c due to their inability to ‘pass JAMB ‘, hence, the need to lower the cut-off. What JAMB should have done is to call the attention to our deteriorating citadels of learning. Our higher institutions these days are merely living on past glory, therefore, competing with our neighbouring countries will only be foolhardy. Rather, we should improve our education in totality by enhancing current structures, re-evaluate our curriculum and provide an environment devoid of ‘demi-godism’ and ‘god fatherism’.

With this new cut-off in effect, JAMB must now ensure that institutions abide by this policy, the argument put forward by JAMB that prior to this new conclusion Institutions had admitted students below the cut-off does not help the Agency, as one begins to wonder the reason for its creation in the first place.

One must mention that JAMB has a lot to do in calming the nerves of the citizenry, the statement made by JAMB spokesperson Dr Fabian is preposterous, to say the least. That Nigerian universities do not admit to their carrying capacity is a statement that reeks sentiment and lies, except he did not school in any Nigeria public university.

Furthermore, rather than sing the praises of Professor Ishiaq Oloyede and his team about generating the highest revenue since inception. I strongly believe JAMB needs to put its house in order by continuously engaging the critical stakeholders.

Interestingly, I find it absurd that our policy gurus fail to realise that JAMB cutoff is just a benchmark, institutions definitely still put their cut-off forward; and this requires not only UTME score, as O’level result, post UTME score and for some state institutions,  indigenisation still gets some points. This to me means JAMB is giving more autonomy to these institutions.

Finally, this moral episode of panic needs to come to an end, our policy gurus and soap box orators should know that the end justifies the means, i.e pressing the panic button on every new policy does not move us forward. We should be more concerned with what becomes of the policy!

But what do I know?

By Olaide Lukman Olaoluwa
Ibafo, Ogun State
[email protected]

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