There was gridlock yesterday on Bariga-Akoka Road, Lagos, when hundreds of candidates, who have registered to sit for the 2018 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), staged a peaceful protest over what they described as the inconsiderate stance of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) by fixing the examination for March. The candidates carried placards with various inscriptions such as: “Admissions are yet to close, why conducting another UTME now?” “JAMB isn’t for revenue generation, stop milking our parents,” “2017 UTME held in May, why March in 2018?” and “2018 admissions not transparent,” among others.
They said many of them who had hoped to be admitted by various institutions during the 2017/2018 academic year just found out this week that they were not admitted and that less than one month would not be enough to prepare for another examination.
But JAMB has justified the decision to hold the examination between March 9 and 17, noting that it was a decision jointly taken by other examination bodies such as the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), National Examinations Council (NECO), among others, to avoid clash of timetables and to ensure that all admissions are concluded by August every year for smooth academic system.
The examination body, however, advised the 245,000 candidates billed to take part in its Monday Mock test to visit the website to reprint their slips and prepare adequately for the examination. Addressing the press during the protest, the National President of the Association of Tutorial School Operators (ATSO), Mr. Dotun Sodunke, who led the candidates to the streets, said if allowed to hold as scheduled, Nigeria would experience another round of mass failure. He said if JAMB was not only concerned about generating revenue for the government it would consider the candidates before fixing the date for the examination.
According to him, there is no way the candidates will complete the UTME syllabus within one month. Sodunke added that institutions like the University of Benin, Yaba College of Technology, among others, still released admission list on Wednesday, and that the students who had applied to such institutions but are yet to be admitted would not concentrate on preparation for another examination. He said: “The new head of JAMB needs to be called to order. He should not be carried away by the euphoria of revenue generation. Every little error, candidates are asked to pay N2,500.
The future of this country depends on these children. JAMB is sure that if you conduct the exam early, many candidates would fail, and they would come back to register again next year. This is so because their children don’t school here.”
However, the Head of the Press and Public Relations Unit of JAMB, Dr. Fabian Benjamin, explained that there was yet no basis for the postponement being sought by the candidates, saying the date had been fixed as early as December, 2017, and that it was made public. He said: “We need to place the interest of this country above selfish interest. The candidates are not the ones staging protest but the tutorial centres operators, and parents must intervene to rein them in.”
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