YNaija Editorial: Yes, it’s time for someone to sue JAMB

Over the past few days, there has been ridicule and  laughter over a news report that some candidates for the Universities Tertiary Matriculation Examination are suing the organising body, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) for N1 billion.

They allege that the body has substituted their actual results with random scores, their results have been sold to other people; this is not the first time and, armed with the Freedom of Information Act, they are demanding to see their scripts.

We find that we cannot join the general amusement with by this report; we think it is in fact a matter for sober consideration to ask – is JAMB playing with the lives and futures of our young people?

Over the past week, the board lustily declared how only 3 out of over 1 million candidates scored above 300. Over 27, 000 results were also seized. Beyond the inevitable reactions crowing about the failing state of our education and how this reveals that things are getting progressively worse, it is useful to interrogate these failures.

One of the true injustices of our society is the fact that we rob our children of quality education, watch learning standards slide and have shown no sense of responsibility towards the structures that build a viable knowledge economy, yet we have no qualms adding to this an examination stringency that does more to cover up incompetence and inefficiency than tighten standards.

More to the point, agencies like JAMB that have made the news severally for corruption ranging from leaked papers to shady officials cannot possess the moral right to be rigid and stringent.

In addition to all of this, the ways the examinations themselves are conducted leave a lot to be desired. Despite cosmetic technology improvements, everything about these examinations have questions marks – from registration, through operations at the various centres and the way that results are checked. Then there is the fact that the system for complaints and redress has barely registered any student successes over the past many years. The entire system seems wired to make life as difficult as possible for the helpless candidate.

So, JAMB cannot continue to take pride in mass failures. It is not enough to make a publish show of failing students or of catching them in examination malpractice. It cannot continue to get away with mass cancelled and withheld results with no verifiable justification. In the same way, we must begin to aggressively question its methods. For one, there is the subject combination system that seems to have lost global relevance. Then there are the JAMB brochures. You have to wonder at the morality of grading students for the English language when the board’s shamefully inadequate brochure is defined by insufficient information and typographical errors.

The result of all these is that students now have the sense that you don’t need to be brilliant to pass JAMB’s exams – you only need to be smart enough to exploit its loopholes. This is a clear pointer that JAMB needs to take more responsibility for the failures in its system than holding press conferences to show “exhibits” of cheating.

It is entirely possible that the students who have taken JAMB to court indeed failed. However, JAMB needs to stop hiding behind laws that seem to protect it from accountability, were students need to know if they have been treated unfairly and fraudulently. In this respect, we speak not only of JAMB, but also other examination bodies including the West Africa Examinations Council (WAEC) and National Examinations Council (NECO).

It is a supremely useful exercise for Nigerians to, for once, be able to take a look behind the veil of gratuitous secrecy that governs these bodies. It is time for them to be transparent, and it is time to hold them accountable.

According to the student’s lawyer “JAMB cannot expect students who sat down and wrote accurate text exams to believe they performed woefully to just sit down and fold their arms.” We completely agree.

This is indeed a challenge to the body to prove that it runs a fair and honest system. The lives of many young Nigerians hang on that challenge.

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Comments (14)

  1. Abeg Mr or Mrs blunt are you there when am reading day and night at the end low jamb score am sure of what I did this year I swear no be my result jamb give me o Abeg sue jamb oooo

  2. Abeg Mr or Mrs blunt are you there when am reading day and night at the end low jamb score am sure of what I did this year I swear no be my result jamb give me o Abeg sue jamb oooo

  3. Its only right for us to admit when a system is flawed and try to get it right, especially when it deals with something as critical as education. I remember being short of my required course cut-off and being glad I could bypass JAMB by doing the UNILAG diploma program. Compare the O-levels syllabus with the JAMB syllabus and you'll see a world of difference. My question is, instead of screaming for it to be scrapped, what can be done to fix it?

  4. I cnt beilve dat afta writing jamb 4 the 4th times my physics wz withheld,reasons best knwn to them, cuz am very sure i shaded my subject well, pls somtin serious should be done abt jamb, cus its really driving me crazy…

  5. Its really true that the situation has gotten out of hand.Imagine me passing my Jamb and post-ume last year only to find out that my name was not in the admission list.Atimes i ask myself these questions;What exactly would they say is the reason for not giving admisssion.Its so annoying especially when the problem is not frome me.Its not fair at all.This is also part of the things that causes corruption the country.A CHILD DENIED OF ADMISSION OR 1 whose result is being held might become frustrated and as well be tempted to indulge in illegal act.At the end of the day the child might be blamed.I agree bt 1 shouldn't neglect what prompted the child in yaki9ng such actions.One day we all will give account of what we did.Some of them neglect this fact.I think it would be good if they have this at the back of their mind.

  6. I'm in full support of this action. It's high time someone sued JAMB. Years ago, I wrote the exam and my result was withheld. I had achieved very good results (no c's) in WAEC & NECO and I was confident enough to know that the problem was not with me. I then visited the JAMB office in Ibadan, wrote letters and requested for the release of my result. Nothing was done. For me as a young Nigerian, it was a very agonizing period. I couldn't imagine having to sit at home for a whole year after my hard work and for a reason that was purely JAMB's fault. Perhaps the most annoying part was the attitude of the JAMB staff. They kept asking me to come back because they were busy (mostly listening to the radio). Eventually, after more than 20 trips to that office, I wrote to a newspaper in frustration. My result was released the very next week. By that time, I had missed admission to both of the schools I chose and was just lucky to be able to get another offer (after paying N15000 which was a lot of money then for change of institution).

    Till now, nobody understands the standards by which JAMB exams are conducted. No one knows how the scripts are scored. This is unlike other standard exams which give you a good idea of their marking scheme. I took the SAT a year after. In all the numerous practice tests I did, I always had the same score (plus or minus 20). When I finally sat for the exam, I had my usual practice score plus 30. That is an exam! It is standardised! Can the same person achieve similar scores on two editions of any JAMB exam?

    I don't doubt that our standard of education has fallen. But let's top deceiving ourselves with the belief that mass failure is a proof of standardization. JAMB is at best, a sham. A person does it today and scores 290. The same person fails it next year. What kind of exam is that? To achieve a perfect market in Economics, there should be free flow of information. Similarly, to achieve a perfect exam, there should be free flow of information! If people would pass or fail an exam, they should know exactly why!

  7. @Blunt and others who think advancement in technology is our problem (distraction) do consider that the west is ahead of us via this. How old was Zukeberg when he developed FB? Then twitter? Talk bout google. How come twasn't a distraction? And I suggests, besides lagos, you try to find out what internet penetration in Nigeria is. The best stat wil b thru d telecoms outfits. Dat done, juxtapose the results in these areas where you have the 'distractions' mentioned with the parts of Nigeria where u have less 'diistraction'. Pls, it is a systemic failure, fulled by corruption.

  8. @Blunt, After I wrote English in Jamb, I cross-checked the answers I gave with the dictionary and I was sure of my score. But when the results came out, I couldn't believe my score. When I wrote post-UME however, I had exactly the score I got after I cross-checked with my dictionary. Try and visit the so-called JAMB miracle centres and see how young Nigerian students suffer everyday to have a good score in JAMB. The truth is that even if you know the answers to every question in JAMB. You still will not make above 250. JAMB is more of a test of luck than a test of knowledge. One of my friends had 99 in JAMB PHYSICS last year. That's an impossible score. Not even him could believe. JAMB gives random scores. JAMB derives prestige from ruining the dreams of students

  9. JAMB has nothing to offer to her candidates. Let's be factual here. How many of the JAMB officials can actually operate the facilities they are using, both old & new? I have always said it and i will continues saying it that JAMB is not a very good exam to use in qualifying candidate's brilliancy, because even the brilliant students find the exam so difficult to pass. Something should be done on the marking system of JAMB.

  10. The jamb is a very complicated situation. On one end we have the corruption that encompasses the whole exam. From as the article states officials to even the students finding ways to cheat on the exam. We must also look at the fact that the JAMB is a joke compared to other standardized exams. I have yet to find a website that gives a detailed description of what is actually on the jamb. Secondly students are already receiving a failing education what makes people think they will be prepared to take the Jamb exam. They need to take a step back on the preparation for this exam and give students a fighting chance. Students will never take the exam seriously if the very people giving the exam are not serious themselves.

  11. Well said! But will actual redress really be achieved? If yes, when? When the students have taken 3 or 4 more jamb exams? While they grow old awaiting justice?

  12. @Blunt: It's sweeping and generalised statements and judgements like yours that make it impossible for Nigeria to make serious progress. And when they come from a place of ignorance, they only serve to muddy the waters more.

    You said: "Why are you making excuses for poor preparation by students?"

    * How do you know the students challenging their results made poor preparation for the exams? Did you coach them all? Did you do an exit pools at the JAMB centres? Is this based on any scientific database?

    You said: "The reality is that a lot of candidates will rather run after shortcuts these days than do the right thing."

    *See my questions above.

    You said: "Why do you think there are so many miracle centres out there if not for shortcuts?"

    *Miracle JAMB training centres are just marketing ploy by the owners of the centres. JAMB curriculum is not taught in secondary schools. So, the only way to be coached for JAMB in a formal setting is through a training centre. If the proprietor decides to give it a fancy name like Miracle JAMB Centre, it doesn't mean that they are teaching what you call 'shortcuts'. Please get educated!

    You said: "Infact anyone who wrote Jamb in the early 90s will tell you Jamb is even simpler these days."

    * Now, that's weird. What should someone who wrote JAMB in the 90s still be hovering over the JAMB circuit today. Anyway …

    You said: "Were they not given a syllabus detailin all the areas in which question will be set?"

    *JAMB had always published a curriculum just like WAEC. It's nothing new. Are you sure you ever sat for this exam?

    You said: "I even learnt they are allowed to use calculators,a priviledge people never had 5/6 yrs ago."

    *And when the subject requires no calculation?

    You said: "The bottom line is with adequate preparation and less distraction e.g Facebook,twitter,bb,2go etc there’s greater chances of makin it rather than lookin for excuses."

    *True. But, you fail to establish the significance of these facts as impacting the candidates who sat for the most recent JAMB. See my first set of questions.

    Bottomline: These youngsters have the right to contest their results. JAMB should produce their scripts and prove each contested result true. We need transparency in this country, in every place, not just petroleum ministry.

  13. @Blunt, while yu do have a very valid point, so do some of these students, and that's why they'r requesting to see their scripts, at least that will show clearly whether they passed or not

  14. Student will always find excuses for their own inadequacies. Why are you making excuses for poor preparation by students? The reality is that a lot of candidates will rather run after shortcuts these days than do the right thing. Why do you think there are so many miracle centres out there if not for shortcuts? Infact anyone who wrote Jamb in the early 90s will tell you Jamb is even simpler these days. Were they not given a syllabus detailin all the areas in which question will be set? I even learnt they are allowed to use calculators,a priviledge people never had 5/6 yrs ago.

    The bottom line is with adequate preparation and less distraction e.g Facebook,twitter,bb,2go etc there's greater chances of makin it rather than lookin for excuses

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