Why UTME performance keeps dropping

IN 2011, 2,892 candidates scored above 300 in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations, UTME. In a sad turn of events, the performance has nosedived drastically since then; only three candidates scored 300 and above in 2012 with the number increasing slightly to 10 in 2013.

Although, the Computer-Based Test, CBT is still ongoing, the recently released results of candidates who wrote the Paper Pencil Test, PPT and a percentage of those who wrote the CBT, is worrisome. Compared to the 33,753 candidates who scored above 250 marks in 2013 based on available data, only 47 scored above 250 this year.

In 2012, there were 72, 243 of such students. In the light of these alarming figures, one question begs to be answered: Who is responsible for this mass failure? Is the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, the body responsible for conducting the UTME? Is it the failing education system? Lazy students?  Non-committed teachers? Vanguard Learning spoke to the different stakeholders, and they all had different views about the situation.

A candidate in this year’s UTME who did not want her name in print, was not too happy when she checked her UTME results. One of the 115, 456 candidates who scored between 160-169 marks in the last exams, she said: “I don’t know what happened. I studied hard and did my best during the examinations. I make sure I didn’t cheat, but in spite of all that, my result still came out like this.”

Mr. Mark Okoh, the Principal of Caro College in Lagos, told our reporters in a phone interview that only JAMB can truly answer the questions as to why students failed.

“JAMB is the umpire in this situation,” he said “it is JAMB that sets the questions and marks the scripts. In conducting an examination, there are rules to be followed. If the candidates follow these rules, then there shouldn’t be much of a problem. But if students are not aware of the rules they are being judged by, then, that is not fair conduct of examinations. For example, The West African Examination Council, WAEC, gives students an idea of what to expect from the examination, but JAMB doesn’t do that. No wonder students are confused.”

The JAMB boss, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, however, refuted claims that JAMB is not clear on its criteria for judging students’ performance. “We are professionals,” he said, “we know what we are doing and we have always been clear about it. It is just that a lot of times, candidates do not listen. They rely on stuff they find on the internet.

This year, because we wanted to promote reading culture in the country, we prescribed two books for all the students to read. But a lot of them did not touch it. How can they pass? Fifty questions came from those books alone. Instead they depended on the internet to give them fake information, and imputed such information when they came into the examination hall.

All is not lost, and we cannot conclude yet; there are still quite a number of candidates who have not yet done the CBT. When they do, we will know for sure, and make plans from there.”

The National Coordinator of the Education Rights Campaign, ERC, Mr. Hassan Soweto, however said that the Federal Government is to blame. In a statement to Vanguard Learning, he said: “This year’s UTME has again exposed the rot in Nigeria’s public education sector. From the breakdown of the result, out of 1,015,504 candidates that sat for the exams, only about 108,488 candidates scored between 200 and 249 points. This is a dismal performance. But the candidates are not to be blamed.


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