ERC condemns JAMB new cut-off marks

An education advocacy group, the Education Rights Campaign, ERC, has condemned the new cut off marks announced by Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, which lowered the minimum requirement for admission into institutions of higher learning, just as it charged government to reverse the privatisation of primary and secondary education to improve on the quality of education.

Opposing the policy, ERC’s National Coordinator, Hassan Soweto, said it was disheartening that the JAMB Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, justified the policy by saying that most higher institutions, except a few, have never filled 70 percent of their admission capacity in the last 10 years.

Soweto said “Every year, nearly two million candidates apply for admission, but less than 500,000 are admitted, leaving a huge shortfall. Before now, the popular belief was that the reason for this situation is because there are too few tertiary institutions available for the increasing number of admission seekers. The new twist added to this debate by the registrar only further underlines the monumental crises afflicting public education and the emergency the situation has already become.

“As a result of the collapse of quality education at primary and secondary school levels over the years, occasioned by poor funding and the emergence of private unregulated and usually below-standard private schools, the quality of candidates for admission has progressively worsened. This is reflected in the annual average performance in qualifying examinations like WASSCE which shows that increasingly fewer numbers of products of secondary schools are able to make credits in five subjects.

“This collapse of quality education at secondary school level is, no doubt, the outcome of the policy of underfunding and education privatization pursued by successive governments over the last three decades which saw a boom in establishment of private schools, many without any real facility nor quality teachers, a variety of which is beginning to manifest at the tertiary levels today.

But this problem will not be solved by artificially lowering the cut-off marks as that would imply that JAMB is effectively preparing the ground for another crisis in the medium and long term.

“Moreso, if the quality of education continues to worsen as it definitely would if government fails to step in with more funding, it is only a matter of time before candidates are unable to make 120 cut-off marks. If this happens, would JAMB lower it to 50?”

“For us in the ERC, the proper way to rectify this kind of problem is by reversing the underfunding and privatization of primary and secondary education through government massive investment in public schools.

“Government must aggressively begin to rebuild decayed school infrastructures across the country, establish new schools and employ more teachers and support staff with improved remunerations. These, if done with devotion, dedication and with clear intention to use public resources to meet people’s needs, can reverse the rot afflicting public education within a decade.”

Source: Vanguard