Education

Stakeholders decry increasing poor performance in UTME examination

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Experts and Nigerians alike have continued to express worries over the deteriorating state of education as expressed in mass failure recorded in the April 2024 University Matriculation Examination (UTME)

The poor performance of candidates in the last Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) as reflected in the recently released result has given many Nigerians serious concern. Many Nigerians, who expressed their views have urged government at all levels to show more interest in the education development of the youth.

Between Friday, 19 and 29 April, more than 1.9 million candidates took the computer-based examination.

Professor Ishaq Oloyede, the Registrar of JAMB, said the examination body had withheld the results of 64,624 candidates for possible infractions. He said the board was investigating the withheld results.

He said: “Out of a total of 1,989,668 registered candidates, 80,810 were absent. A total of 1,904,189 sat the UTME within the six days of the examination…”. He stated that the results of total of 1,842,464 candidates have been released.

Pass Rate

The registrar further noted that 8,401, representing 0.5 per cent of candidates, scored 300 and above in the examination. The maximum score obtainable in the UTME is 400. He said 77,070, representing 4.2 per cent, scored 250 and above and that 439,974, representing 24 per cent, scored 200 and above.

He added that 1,402,490, representing 76 per cent of candidates, scored below 200.

Withheld results

The JAMB registrar explained that 78 of the withheld results are under investigation for alleged examination misconduct, 4,594 for “procedural investigation of candidates, 2,896 “under investigation on verification,” and 57,056 for centre-based investigations.

For the centre-based investigation, 18 centres are involved, with the breakdown presented as Edo 1, Akwa Ibom, Delta 2 and Kwara 1.

Pro. Oloyede, however, noted that there’s a downward trend in the cases of examination infractions noticed in the UTME since the introduction of computer-based tests almost 10 years ago.

He said the board only had 78 cases of examination misconduct in the just-concluded UTME. “Even these cases are largely in terms of impersonation and smuggling of devices into the examination hall,” he said.

He added that JAMB is determined to sustain the tempo through the adoption and automation of all its processes, starting from registration and examination to admission.

“The Board witnessed a near-zero infraction in the 2024 UTME except for a few cases, representing a tiny fraction of what was reported last year. This is encouraging, and the Board is poised to consolidate on the successes recorded,” he said.

Oloyede added that only 25 of 9,156 examination sessions experienced hiccups, which disrupted 150 sessions in 95 of the 774 centres.

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“The affected sessions were promptly rescheduled. Only one centre, Makama School of Technology, Old Motor Park, Along FCCE (T) Road, Bichi, Kano State, was delisted for substandard performance,” he said.

The JAMB registrar added that this year’s registration had more female candidates for the first time in three years.

JAMB results

According to the data he provided, 1,007,275 (50.6 per cent) female candidates registered for the examinations compared to 982,393 (49.4 per cent) male candidates.

Last year, 49.7 per cent of candidates were female. In 2022, they represented 48.4 per cent of the total candidates.

Out of the total registration, 3,164 were persons with disabilities (PWDs), Prof. Oloyede added.

Some concerned Nigerians said it mirrored the falling standard in education, where even youths now say “education is a scam.”

In recent days, the announcement of the examination result by JAMB had triggered a myriad of reactions from Nigerians on various platforms.

A trending hashtag garnered over 40,000 tweets last week, with discussion centered around the recurring issue of substantial failure rates observed in recent years in the examination.

Stakeholders and Nigerians have attributed various reasons for the poor performance of UTME students in this year’s examination. Some Nigerians are of the opinion that the dismay performance of the students calls for national emergency and was also a wakeup call for immediate national action to save the education sector.

Others are of the opinion that the situation has exposed the country to the increasing abandonment of their primary roles by parents, drop in quality of education and government poor funding to the educational sector.

“Nigerians have such one-dimensional view of problems. 80% of students, who wrote Jamb failed and you’re blaming social media and smartphones.

“Not the fact that your government budget for education is a joke, not poverty, not the UTME system, just straight to smartphones is neither the problem,” Uloma Ude, said on X.

‘Educational system is faulty’

Dami Adejo, Education Management consultant and School Growth/Improvement Strategist, blames the system for the receding performance of students in their external examinations.

She said that pupils no longer do year six. According to her, “As soon as they get to SS1, their parents would begin say that they should write the West African Certificate Examination (WACE). Their parents would be pushing them to jump classes and go to the levels they are not ready for by virtue of age and maturity to assimilate more than their capacities.

“Such parents are only concern about having their children in the university at tender age of 16; they do not want to care about their maturity. We see parents do all manner of unethical things to have their children pass examinations. We have lost our values as a people,” Adejo said.

She also blamed the government, the inspectorate, the quality assurance departments that should enforce quality and insist that the right things are done in schools, whether public or private.

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“Who do we have in those places to do all those? Things have so gone bad that those, who should enforce discipline in schools – the inspectorate – go there to collect money. They go there to collect fat envelops from school owners without doing what they go there to do,” she said.

Lamenting the low performance in the current UTME, Dr. Olufemi Omoyele, an education expert at the Osun State University, said that it would seem to him that there is no direction for the education being pursued in the country. He said that even the children in school do not know why they are in school.

“The British, the Chinese have their own education system and values that are being inculcated into the children as soon as they enter school. We are training children, who do not think Nigeria. We give them the impression that Nigeria is a photocopy, the real life exists outside the country. We must begin to change that orientation,” Omoyele said.

He also noted that the high level of unemployment in the country was a demotivation to many youths, that they now regard education as a scam.

“We churn out so many people from the universities every year, but there is nowhere to employ them. So, when the certificates cannot guarantee food on their table, people tend to place little or no value on those certificates. For this reason, many parents want their children to rush the process and come out. We have a very good curriculum, which is very, very rich; the problem is implementation. We are just telling the pupils to cram this and cram out; pass your exam and move on.

“I must say that the real education is not a scam, but what we are churning out now is a scam. Something is re-enforcing that in the mind of many youths of today. They can’t see the future; there are no assurances that tomorrow will be better. They cannot see the future that is being referred to theirs,” he further said.

Omoyele further said that setting a 200 general cut-off mark is not bad, because respective higher institutions will also conduct an assessment test to check the competence of the students.

“Additionally, the quality of education in many secondary schools is sub-par, leaving students ill-equipped to handle the exam’s challenges.

“Furthermore, the exam’s format and content often pose difficulties for students, particularly in subjects like mathematics and science.

“For instance, it was insinuated in some quarters that a good number of the candidates were not familiar with the technology utilised for the examination, while some also attributed the nonchalant behaviour of the candidates to their studies as the principal cause of the poor performance,” Omoyele said.

Similarly, lamenting this year’s UTME result, there were some Nigerians, who attributed it to excessive social media use, lack of motivation, and even food insecurity.

Amos Ogunlewe, a public affairs analyst, said the problem with the education sector in Nigeria was multifaceted, which government is not serious about solving them.

According to him, “Many things can be the cause for the failure, but when you look around you realized that the country is troubled; parents are abandoning their responsibilities because of the hash economy.

“There is no light for the students to read when they get home, even food is difficult to get. What is federal government budget to education this year?

“The government is not serious, many schools in the rural areas don’t have common bench for students. Teachers are poorly paid. I don’t think this government is serious about doing anything in that regard,” he said.

‘Parents must change”

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Another Nigerian, Dipo Awoji, stated that parents are to blame for the poor performance of students, he further lamenting the inability of most parents to supervise their children at home.

“Nigerian parents must search their conscience. What are you doing to contribute to the academic success of your children? Do you let them spend hours on TikTok and Instagram or mess around all day?” he said.

In recent years, many educationists have called for the overhauling of the education curriculum in the country to meet the reality of time.

Experts have suggested that the country should give more attention to technical education, encourage students to study there and give more funding to such institutions.

Some experts pointed out that it should not be mandatory for all students wishing to gain admission to such technical institutions to write UTME.

“I don’t believe in this current system, where everyone must go through JAMB and if you fail, you are tagged a dummy, not good enough for anything. I would advise we have technical institutions for those that are interested in courses along that line. We used to have them, but I don’t know the situation now”, Uwem Mercy, an educationist said.

One of the respondents, Richardson Igbasun noted that inefficiency in syllabus and teaching staff across schools has contributed significantly to the underwhelming performances in UTME.

Richardson also highlighted issues such as outdated curriculum and or syllabuses; use of non-professional teachers to set JAMB questions; irregular proper training for JAMB staff; proliferation of schools with quack teachers; prevalence of examination malpractices and unaddressed technical hitches during the exams as specific factors responsible for the poor performances.

The respondents were almost divided on if the switch to the use of computers has contributed to the recent underperformance.

A better percentage (55.6%) believe that the switch has contributed to the reduced performance level while 44.4% are of the opinion that the switch to computer based exams for UTME should not have affected students.

Olanari Ogregade opines that the thoughts of getting rich rather than being educated, has contributed to the low study habits of students.

“It is my candid opinion that JAMB, as an examination body, has outlived its purpose. It should be scrapped to allow higher institutions the opportunity to set admission examinations based on their individual expectations.”

Dr. Ojobeagu Austin Okechukwu believes that the problem is more personal than systemic. He suggested that students must begin to prioritize their education over social media.

“I’m pointing at the issue of using smartphones by the students to do social media. The use of smartphones is not a bad thing but students have placed pleasure before hard work.

“There should be time for everything. Instead of spending more time on the phone, students should spend more time on their books. Parents are to help their children also by persuading them to study their books.

List of the top scorers from 2013 to 2023

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The top scorer in 2013 was Olise Israel Chukwunalu got 379

2014 JAMB UTME top scorer Onomejoh Princewill was the top scorer in the 2014 JAMB UTME after bagging a score of 299. Onomejoh went on to study for a degree at the University of Benin (UNIBEN) where he graduated with first class. He was also the best graduating student from the institution’s faculty of arts during his set.

In 2015, Ilukwe Lottachukwu Geraldine emerged as the highest-scoring candidate. Ilukwe from Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja, scored 332 and went to study at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in England. After bagging a degree in law, Ilukwe has now become a lawyer and consultant in the UK.

In 2016. Akenbor Adesuwa Osarugue and Anonye Victory Emenike scored 359 each in the nationwide examination. As of 2023, Adesuwa was a medical student at UNIBEN. Anonye, on the other hand, is a student of medicine and surgery at the University of Jos (UNIJOS).

In 2017 JAMB UTME top scorer Akingbulugbe Precious Ayomide scored the highest mark in 2017 of 353. However, his present academic heroics are unknown.

Top scorer in 2018 JAMB UTME Galadima Israel Zakari got the highest score of 364. Galadima, who is from Borno state, lost his dad as a child, but he still did well academically. He graduated from Faith Academy in Ota, Ogun state. He gained admission into Covenant University, where he studies electrical and electronics engineering. The then governor of Borno state, Kashim Shettima, who is now the vice president, awarded him a N5 million scholarship.

Ekene Franklin scored 347 in the 2019 UTME. He graduated from Meiran Community Senior High School in Lagos. Ezeunala was 15 years old at the time, and it was reported that UNILAG was considering him for admission. Though not confirmed, it was understood that he got a scholarship to study at Columbia University in the United States.

In 2020, Maduafokwa Egoagwuagwu Agnes emerged as the highest-scoring candidate in JAMB. The graduate of Louisville Girls High School, Ijebu-Itele, in Ogun state, topped the scores with 365. Agnes is pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, United States, under the institution’s Karsh scholarship programme for international students.

JAMB UTME top scorer 2021 Monwuba Chibuzo Chibuikem was declared the top scorer in 2020 having scored 358 over 400. Monwuba is an electrical, electronics and communications engineering student at the University of South Florida in the United States.

In 2022 Adebayo Eyimofe Oluwatofunmi emerged with scored 362 to clinch the top position. Not much is known about his latest academic heroics. 2023 top scorer in JAMB Nkechinyere Umeh was the top scorer in the 2023 JAMB UTME, and many organisations and individuals celebrated her feat.

Nkechinyere scored 360 over 400 to clinch the top spot in the examination. She was a student of Deeper Life High School in Mowe, Ogun state, and was later offered a full scholarship by Governor Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra state.

“Despite JAMB’s announcement that only around 0.5% of candidates nationwide scored 300 and above in the 2024 UTME, an astounding one hundred and seventy-four (174) students of DLHS exceeded expectations with flying colours by scoring 300 and above,” the school said in the post.

According to the information obtained from the school’s Facebook page, the highest scorer this year Ayeyemi Godsgift Ibukunoluwa scored a total of 362 points out of the total 400 obtainable points.

 

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