The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has said the prolonged industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which has kept their students away from classrooms now for many months cannot stop it from conducting another round of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) when it is due.
The Registrar of JAMB, Prof Is-haq Oloyede, gave this position in Lagos, on Saturday, while monitoring the mop-up exam, specially arranged for candidates whose centres were allegedly involved in malpractice and candidates with biometric issues during the general examination for this year in May.
About 1.7 million candidates sat for the exam nationwide while no fewer than 42, 000 candidates from the number sat the mop-up exam across 10 centres (outside their original centres) in about five states of the federation including Abia, Anambra, Delta, Edo and Lagos.
Fielding questions from newsmen shortly after going round some centres including that at WAEC International Office on Agidingbi in Ikeja and JKK House at Ilupeju on Ikorodu Road to have an on-the-spot- assessment of the exercise, Oloyode said there were many reasons the organisation could not be stopped from conducting another round of UTME either or not public university teachers are on strike as they are currently.
According to him, aside from that more than half of all private universities are in session, some public Universities, particularly most state universities are not on strike.
“I can mention some of them. I know of Osun State University, Lagos State University, Kwara State University, and several others. And the reason for that is simple. Many of them are not on state’s government subvention and so their lecturers’ salaries are paid from the school fees.
“So they know that if they should go on strike, their salaries will not be paid.
“And besides those institutions, some other public universities such as Defence Academy, Army University, Police University and the likes are also not on strike.
“So, can’t we then now say because lecturers in the federal universities and few others are on strike, we should stop conducting our exam? What about those who are not on strike?
“So, to do that will be an unfair thing in my thinking to those schools, students and even to the society at large. We can’t hold the entire system down because a part of it is having issue.”
Oloyede said he was also very concerned just like every other parent and stakeholder that the prolonged ASUU strike has forced their students to remain idle for many months and would want the crisis resolved without further delay for normalcy to return to those schools, explained that as far as JAMB is concerned, each university has a way of absorbing candidates who apply to them.
Explaining this, he said, except a university cancels a whole session on its own, the UTME results of their candidates irrespective of years remain valid until the commencement of a new session.
“So to us in JAMB, there is nothing like backlog of results as some people erroneously believe.”
Even at that, JAMB registrar said many of the candidates who sit the yearly UTME are not qualified for admission in any higher institutions and that JAMB cannot be held responsible but parents who push their children who are still in either SS1 or SS2 forward to sit for the exam to test their ability.
He said only the SSCE “OL” result is the major and permanent requirement for every admission seeker at whatever level in the country while UTME is just to rank them for admission.
Speaking about the mop-up, he said the exam went well across the centres except for about four to five candidates, who had biometric problems and that they were all given opportunity to sit for the exam but that their results would not be released until their details are verified.
Meanwhile, Tribune Online observed that some candidates could not start their exam until about 30 to 40 minutes after their allotted starting time due to pressure on the exam officials as they were many.
It was also observed that some candidates did not get to their centres on time, giving several excuses such as mistaking the WAEC testing centre for WAEC International Office for their lateness.
However, those who spoke to Tribune Online exclusively at WAEC Testing and Training Centre, Ogba and WAEC International Office on Agidingbi and the centre at the JKK House Ilupeju on Ikorodu Road said there were no serious hitches while the exam lasted.
They said the computers functioned well and also no power failure.
They thanked JAMB for organising the mop-up exam for them, saying they almost lost hope since their results were cancelled with nobody communicating to them the reason after the release of the general results in May.
They, however, said though some of the questions were a bit difficult and the two hours duration for the four subjects combination was not enough, they were optimistic that they would pass the exam and gain admission to their chosen institutions.