Why Nigeria’s Latest Education Policy Might Aid Corruption

In Nigeria, as in other places in the world, when people who do not appear to be qualified for certain positions make decisions in those offices, they generate uproar and outrage in their immediate communities. Thus, when the Accountant-turned-Columnist-turned-Minister for Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, recently announced that the Post-UTME (Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination) exams, usually conducted by universities across Nigeria will be scrapped, Nigerians felt like they had been denied something crucial. In the same vein, Mallam Adamu also announced that the UTME exam cut-off mark has been reduced to 180 from 200, essentially cementing the reputation of the Nigerian educational sector as a farce.

The Post-UTME is conducted annually by Nigerian universities for potential students after they have passed the government-organised Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations, best known by its former acronym JAMB (Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board) examinations. Over the years, both processes became flawed and synonymous with corruption, nepotism and mediocrity. The general consensus is that, as soon as a child is registered for the JAMB exam, the parents leverage their connections within the examination’s body, or just straight out hire people to write the exams in place of their children. This is, of course, with the help of the exam invigilators.

Post-UTME was generally seen as a way of “sifting the wheat from the chaff,” in other words, separating those who passed through their own efforts from those who received help in the UTME. However, the Post-UTME examinations have now become a hotbed of corruption like its counterpart, the UTME and this may have informed the decision of the Minister of Education. Still, this resolution might prove disastrous in the future as the pros of the exam outweigh the cons.

Late last year, Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, revealed the names of Federal Agencies that had defaulted in remitting revenue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, a fiscal responsibility of any government agency gaining profits and JAMB was one of the government agencies mentioned. Even before then, many Nigerians thought the cost of writing JAMB examinations was high, considering the amount of young Nigerians that had to write and re-write the exam every year. Many wondered where all that money was going to. Now, the seemingly corrupt body has been given even more power – making it the sole authority on admissions into Universities means even more revenue for JAMB. It also means parents will be tempted further to “buy” results for their wards without the fear of Post-UTME exams again.

“As far as I am concerned, the nation has confidence in what JAMB is doing. The universities should not be holding another examination, and if the universities have any complaint against JAMB, let them bring it and then we address it.” Mallam Adamu said. However, with the various reactions on social media and on the streets, Nigerians beg to differ in what “confidence” really means and the number of Nigerians sending their children to schools outside the shores of the country might just increase in the near future. Instead of finding a long-lasting solution to the problem that is university admissions, this latest policy looks like a stop-gap answer, just like some of the policies of the present administration.

All eyes will be on JAMB now to see if it can be responsible with the power bestowed upon it. After all, “with great power comes great responsibility,” but when has that ever stopped Nigerian corruption?

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