The Senate has announced plans to amend the law establishing the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, (JAMB), so as to limit the age of a candidate sitting for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) to 16 years and above.
The Vice-Chairman, Senate Committee on Basic Education, Senator Akon Eyakenyi, gave the indication during the committee’s oversight visit to JAMB and said this would prevent underaged candidates from participating in the examination for the purpose of gaining admission to a university in Nigeria.
He said the committee had identified two major areas to be addressed in the proposed amendment for the examination body to function better.
Eyakenyi said “Our own work is that of making laws, to legislate; we have identified two major areas that we need to go into the process of amending the act establishing JAMB. That’s the area of support we will give.
“Other than that, we also intend to pass on what we have seen today to the appropriate MDAs, the Federal Ministry of Education to ensure the support that JAMB needs is given to them.”
The committee noted that candidates should not be admitted into the university below the age of 18 as age has a lot to do with their learning ability.
The senator, who stressed the importance of education to the development and future of Nigeria, said the sector deserves maximum attention as good quality education can only be achieved through funding and commitment of teachers and students.
While describing JAMB as a bridge between the secondary and the university, he said the agency was a necessary vehicle for the delivery of quality and standard education in Nigeria.
“If the products from the secondary schools are not properly catered for to be assessed before turning them into the university definitely you will have a problem,” he said.
Eyakenyi also commended the board for the smooth conduct of the 2021 UTME, stating that the exercise was free from malpractice as each candidate had different questions to answer, while describing the JAMB Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede, as a round peg in a round hole, who knows his job.
The committee, however, queried why JAMB had almost 100 per cent performance of its 2020 budget and over N500 million devoted to staff welfare apart from their regular salaries.
Responding, JAMB Registrar, Oloyede, told the committee that the board does not have powers to disqualify any candidate on the basis of age, stating that individual institutions can decide on who to admit as is the case with the University of Ibadan which does not admit candidates below 16 years.
Oloyede explained that the budget of the board was only 75 per cent implemented as the government issued a directive that 25 per cent of funds budgeted should be returned to the federation account.
He said staff of the board were properly incentivised to avoid the temptation of colluding with fraudsters to commit malpractice while conducting its exercises across the country, stating that part of the expenses were on their local travels, transportation and allowances.
He added that JAMB also sought the approval of the wages and salaries commission to pay its staff 13th-month salary every year.
On the issue of general services and security, he said a minimum of 3 Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, (NSCDC), operatives were deployed to each centre during the 2021 UTME and paid a minimum of N45,000.
While speaking on the N1.027 billion paid out to CBT centres in the 2020 budget, Oloyede explained that N600 was paid to each CBT Centre per candidate in addition to other incentives.
He also disclosed that JAMB intends to transform its headquarters in Bwari into an international examination centre as soon as it establishes a 2,500 capacity Computer Based Test, CBT, centre, whereby agencies wishing to conduct examination can patronise.
Speaking on the issue of low cut off marks for education candidates, he said the issue of determining cut off marks was because of competition, adding that even if education cut off marks are reduced to 120, institutions will not be able to fill up to 50 per cent of their carrying capacity.
On the general performance for UTME in 2021, he said the board has been able to use the profile code and NIN to arrest the issue of multiple registrations, adding that in 2021, NIMC supplied pictures of candidates in addition to the one captured by JAMB at the point of registration.
He disclosed that some security agencies were involved in exam malpractice by swapping candidates after they have been cleared through the biometrics process, adding that at least two of them have been arrested after they were detected through CCTV cameras.
He noted that some candidates results may be withdrawn if after reviewing the exercise on CCTV they are found to be culpable of malpractice.