UTME: Stakeholders divided over abysmal performance of candidates

Mixed reactions have trailed the abysmal performance of candidates in the 2024 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME, as reflected in the recently released result.

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, had disclosed that out of over 1.8 million candidates who sat for the UTME nationwide, only 8,401 managed to score 300 and above, while a significant majority of 1,402,490, fell below the 200 benchmark.

This revelation has sparked widespread concern.

Findings by DAILY POST revealed that over 70 percent of those that sat for the exam did not score up to 200.

The examination body said a total of 1,989,668 million candidates registered for the examination in 118 towns and over 700 centers across the country.

A breakdown of the candidates’ performance revealed thus:

1,989,668 candidates registered for the examination. 80,810 candidates were absent for the exercise. 64,624 results were withheld. 8, 401 candidates scored 300 and above. 77,070 candidates scored 250 and above. 439,974 candidates scored 200 and above. And lastly, 1,402,490 candidates scored below 200.

Students, parents, and other stakeholders have taken to various platforms to accuse JAMB of orchestrating the mass failure.

However, some Nigerians are of the opinion that the dismal performance of the students calls for national emergency and immediate national action to save the education sector.

Speaking to DAILY POST, a public affairs analyst, Benedict Onoja, blamed the system for the receding performance of students in external examinations.

He said that students no longer go through Senior Secondary School 3.

According to her, “As soon as they get to SS1, their parents would begin to ask them to sit for the West African Examination Council, WAEC, examination.

“Their parents would be pushing them to jump classes and go to the levels they are not ready for, by virtue of age and maturity to assimilate more than their capacities.

“Such parents are only concerned about having their children in the university at the tender age of 16; they do not want to care about their maturity.

“We see parents do all manner of unethical things to have their children pass examinations. We have lost our values as a people.”

Another public affairs commentator, Mike Divine Akor, said that the decline in academic standards was due to systemic issues within the education sector.

He slammed the federal government’s inconsistent policies and JAMB’s decision to lower admission cut-off marks, stressing the adverse impact on educational was worrisome

“The decline in JAMB performance is primarily due to regulatory weaknesses,” Akor opined, seeking for a holistic overhaul of educational governance and increased investment in teacher quality and curriculum stability.

Also speaking, a political scientist, Anthony Ameh, said the problem with the education sector in Nigeria was multifaceted.

He told DAILY POST, “Many things can be the cause for the failure, but when you look around you will realize that the country is troubled; parents are abandoning their responsibilities because of the harsh economy.

“There is no light for the students to read when they get home, even food is difficult to get. What is the federal government budget for education this year?

“The government is not serious, many schools in the rural areas don’t have common benches for students. Teachers are poorly paid. I don’t think this government is serious about doing anything in that regard,” he said.

He also stated that parents were to blame for the poor performance of students, lamenting the inability of most parents to supervise their children at home.

“Nigerian parents must search their conscience. What are you doing to contribute to the academic success of your children? Do you let them spend hours on TikTok and Instagram or mess around all day?” He asked.

Speaking to DAILY POST, some candidates, however, blamed the poor performance in the UTME on technical glitches.

Some claimed that technical difficulties such as computer malfunction, poor internet connections, and power outages led to their poor outing in the UTME.

While sharing his experience, one of the candidates, who simply gave his name as James said, “My own system went off midway into English Language and the invigilator ignored me and it never came on. But I’m grateful to God, I scored 233.”

Another candidate, Funmi, stated, “My system failed but later came up. I tried my best and I scored 251. I’m not happy because JAMB has dealt with me and quashed my chance of studying my desired course.

“I give thanks to God in all situations. I can go for an alternative course if that’s the wish of God.”

Another candidate, Paul Okpe said, “My system shut down 30 minutes to the end of the examination. I was thrown off balance and the questions I knew the answers to just went away. It took me time to adjust.”

On her part, a candidate who simply gave her name as Joy, lambasted the examination body, stating that some centres lacked the necessary facilities.

Speaking to DAILY POST, JAMB’s Public Relations Officer, Fabiam Benjamin, said that they give everybody equal opportunity.

“He said, our examination is a selection examination. It is not about performance but in any case, if you are looking at it from the comparative basis, this year’s performance is better than last year, 2022 and of course, 2021’s own.

“There was a time in 2013 that the percentage of candidates that scored above 200 was 10%. So, if you look at it on that basis, the performance this year is better than what it used to be,” he said.

Responding to some students who blamed the poor performance on technical glitches, Benjamin said, “Of course I would not not say the whole exercise was rosy without any problems.

“In the entire centres where the examinations were written, there would be one or two problems encountered, but we were able to resolve the issue almost immediately.

“I know that those of them that did not do well in the examination would have one excuse or the other to justify their failure. Only the person who did well would say there were no problems.”

According to him, the Board always evaluates and re-evaluates itself at the end of every exercise to discover possible loopholes that need correction.

“If you look at our processes year in year out, you see that there are improvements because we sit down and do a review.

“At the moment, we are even doing a review and looking at areas of complaints where candidates had issues and to correct them,” he said.