The immediate past President of the Nigerian Academy of Education (NAE), UMO Ivowi has declared that the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) was sufficient for university admission. He said this to support calls for the reduction of the number of examinations written before candidates gain admission into tertiary institutions.
In an exclusive interview with EduCeleb.com in Lagos, the former Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Education Research and Development Council (NERDC) also proposed that the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) should be limited to clearing candidates for admission into tertiary institutions rather than conducting another exam for prospective students.
Over the years, entrants into Nigerian tertiary institutions are required to “make their papers” in the SSCE in addition to scoring relatively high in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and a post-UTME exam or screening.
“We need examination in order to have feedback on what we are doing as we teach, and as learners learn, we need to evaluate (them). We need to assess the learning process and then use the result as a feedback to improve the system.”
“I agree that there are too many examinations at the moment in the country. Our youths are being bugged round by multiple examinations.”
“For instance, when you want to gain admission into a university, you do two exams (UTME and Post-UTME). A third exam, which is the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) is the matriculation examination.”
“That is what is required to be in a tertiary institution. No matter your performance in the other examinations, if you do not perform to the standard in the matriculation examination, you cannot be admitted,” he expatiated.
The SSCE is also refered to as the Ordinary Level (O’level). In Nigeria, both the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and the National Examinations Council (NECO) conduct the SSCE. Candidates who write the exam are thereafter issued certificates based on their performances.
Generally in the country, the SSCE is the minimum requirement for an individual to be regarded as literate. It is also the minimum entry qualification for citizens to work in the civil service and the public service. A WAEC or NECO issued SSCE certification is also required in a situation where one intends to advance in education qualifications.
“What we ought to do is to beef up the matriculation examination and use it as a basis for admission. All these other things are just providing unnecessary avenues for people to enhance their corrupt practices.” he said.
When EduCeleb.com sought to clarify if the matriculation examination he meant was the UTME, he insisted that it was the SSCE.
“The Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) should be sufficient for admission. That is what we should depend upon. Let the children do that one alone.”
Professor Ivowi noted that universities are gradually adopting this proposed style using the point system in the post-UTME screening.
“They are using part of it now. You have points on the grades that the candidates make. With the points a candidate makes in that examination, you would be able to know a cut-off point you want to accept for admission.”
Interview after SSCE result screening
He also proposed that the only addition to the SSCE point grading should be an interview to serve as a screening mechanism. He noted that that system was already being used in other parts of the world.
According to him, questions in the interview would give background check on the person to measure their character and learning prior to admission.
“I believe that the matriculation exam, which is the SSCE result, plus the interview should be sufficient for admission.
“If you want to study Biology in the university, you apply to a particular university and that university will call you. Of course, there would be many other people that would have applied.
“On the basis of the application, they would look through and make their own selection. Then, they would call you to go for a very simple interview.”
“Questions like ‘Why do you want to study in this university? Do you have a pedegree? Has any of your relations been to this university?'”
“Of course, if such person’s father, mother, brother, uncle or cousin had passed through that university and performed well in learning and character, that would be a plus for that candidate to be admitted.”
“That is better instead of bringing in all these people who tend to belong to cults and start misbehaving, thereby pulling down the image and prestige of the university, you will go for people you believe are going to make the university’s postion stand better,” he explained.
The Fellow of the Science Teachers’ Association of Nigeria (STAN) added that the interview will also help the school officials determine the level of interest the candidate has for the course he/she intends to study and from that teaching and learning would help develop such interest.
He also urged counsellors and teachers in secondary schools to guide students on the right choice of subject combinations based on their interest and endeavour to monitor their academic progress in line with that prior to them having to sit for the SSCE.
Non need for UTME
The retired lecturer at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) also said that the UTME would not be needed anymore under the proposed arrangement. This is as he also proposed that JAMB maintained its ‘clearing house’ status upon which it was established.
He identified issues of the bastardisation of the system by some people he referred to as cabals as an immediate cause of the ineffectiveness of the current examination system.
“My belief from the beginning has been that we do not even need the UTME. The UTME has been bastardised. If you look at the report of the JAMB Registrar, (Ishaq) Oloyede earlier in January at the stakeholders’ meeting, the man keeps fighting a group of people who are looking for all sorts of loopholes to cheat the system. People are making money from that cheating and a number of people support them.
“These are cabals. If you want to do medicine where you need to score very high, some people collect money from candidates to get those marks. The candidate may not be good at all. But there is no way the system can surpass these people who are fighting. JAMB does everything to restrict this. but you’re dealing with humanbeings who intend to make money from it keep going ahead of JAMB.
“When JAMB sees the loophole and blocks it, they create another one. This has been going on right from the beginning. Therefore, those who really score very high marks with their own brilliant effort are those we need in the system. You have a good number of them that would be sufficient to populate our universities.”
The don also identified that where candidate fall short of the required credit passes in one SSCE, they can make up for it by writing another one and combining the results. He said the additional exam after the SSCE (UTME) is needless since the certificate from the SSCE is basically multipurpose even beyond further educational advancement.
“That is sufficient. You go on to subject to another exam where they pay money. Surprisingly, the same parents who don’t have sufficient money would do anything to pay sufficiently to the cabals in order that their children would get sufficient marks (in the UTME).”
“We can do without the UTME. In developed countries, they don’t have such an exam. We are just unnecessarily heating the system.”
“Let JAMB be a clearing house. The problem that led to (the establishment of) JAMB was the issue of having a clearing house.”
EduCeleb.com recalls that JAMB was established in 1978 to check instances of multiple admissions and regularise the matriculation into Nigerian universities. Its duties had expanded to other tertiary institutions over the years.
Ivowi called for the return of JAMB’s mandate to be the centralised body clearing candidates for admission rather than conducting an additional examination.
“The centralisation should be to have a clearing house so that all applications go through the same place, all admissions would be recorded. So, the issue of somebody getting multiple admissions would no longer be necessary,” he emphasised.
On the already widespread malpractices with the SSCE, he called for more efforts to curb that while maintaining that the results from the exam would suffice for whatever career aspiration the school certificate holder wishes to follow.