Friday, 10 June 2016

Post UTME Scrapping: The Cart That Cannot Drag Any Horse

Like a very high number of Nigerian students, I had the undesirable privilege of writing the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination more than once. The first time I took the Examination, I had above the 200 average score, however, looking back now, I wouldn't want to exactly use the term; “I passed” to describe this feat which at the time was quite monumental for me. The reason for this is not far-fetched; it’s simply because the score was eventually as useful as the letter “P” in the word Psalm. All the two hundred and thirty four marks I had gotten did for me was qualify me to write the Post UTME examinations at the Obafemi Awolowo University, which I had either out  of ignorance or severe love for the school (or a little bit of both) filled as both first and second Choice Degree Awarding Institution. Again, like most fresh Nigerian Secondary school leavers, I had picked Medicine and Surgery as my most preferred course of study and Microbiology as an alternative. I then proceeded to write Post UTME Examination and luckily for me, I passed. If only passing was enough. The Obafemi Awolowo University, at least until the recent cancellation of the Post-UTME ran an admissions system where the score considered for admission was a weighted average of the UTME and Post-UTME Scores. However, apart from this every course had a Cut-off mark prerequisite which actually was the set bar for any admission on merit (Even though the “mago mago” factor can not be totally removed). The average of my scores was not near to the lofty cut-off mark for Medicine; in fact, the difference between the two scores was enough to give one a good lesson on humility.

I took the UTME again. And having learnt one or two things from my past experience, I avoided the gates of Medicine and opted for her immediate neighbour, Pharmacy. Again Dibu’s feedback made me look stupid, though I again had more than 200 marks, my score was less than the year prior. However, my Post UTME examinations were not similar to the year before. I passed very well and in fact, my eventual average score was just enough to put me in the merit list. The Post-UTME which was just another hurdle a year before became my saving grace.

Several comments and criticisms have trailed the Scrapping of the Post UTME Scheme. Some have claimed it is a good decision as the scheme was only a nonnecessity that hindered students from gaining admission over the years. Perhaps this is true but checking again, with the Post UTME, higher institutions continue to admit students annually, these days even more than their resources. Scrapping Post UTME would not increase the number of admission spaces, if the real problem is not faced, majority would still remain unadmitted every year!

Maybe Scrapping Post UTME would help improve the credibility of the admission process considering the reduced bureaucracy, but I believe it should be preceded by a qualitative reorganisation of JAMB and the UTME. The timing of the cancellation is probably what makes the decision itself seem so Controversial. The Minister of Education, who has been under the rocks just popped up to make the announcement and crawled right back. This just complexifies the situation because the 2016 UTME has been concluded and many schools were already making plans for their Post UTME. I think the Minister just placed the cart before the horse and left Nigerian schools and Students in it. I wonder where this cart would drag the horse to.

Pope Jay

Cartoon Illustration- Pelumi Ponmile

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