FG wrong to scrap post-UTME — Afe Babalola, others
Education stakeholders, including a legal luminary, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), and the former Vice-Chancellor of the Caleb University, Imota, Lagos, Prof. Ayodeji Olukoju, on Saturday, faulted the scrapping of the post-Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).
While Babalola, who is the founder of the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, described the directive as a tragic mistake, Olukoju as well as the Academic Staff Union of Universities said the action ran contrary to the autonomy conferred on the universities.
The Education Minister, Mr. Adamu Adamu, had while declaring open a Combined Policy Meeting on admission to universities, polytechnics and other higher institutions, on Thursday in Abuja, said it was unnecessary subjecting candidates to another round of examination after the UTME conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board.
But reacting to the minister's comments on Saturday, Babalola said the Federal Government should have consulted widely and considered what led to the creation of the post-UTME before making the announcement.
He said, 'I am more than shocked by the announcement that the post-UTME as part of the qualifying procedure for admission to Nigerian universities has now been cancelled.
'This, to me, is nothing but a most calamitous mistake, which poses danger and an irreversible adverse effect on the quality of education in this country.
'I am particularly surprised and worried that such a far-reaching decision could be taken without due and adequate consideration for how the concept of the post-UTME came into being. It is rather unfortunate that human memory is very short.'
Olukoju, while faulting the decision, said, 'JAMB is just as a clearinghouse.'
According to the renowned professor of History, the autonomy of the universities demands that they have the right to enrol students, employ teachers as well as carry out other functions that will bring quality and sanity into the system.
He said, 'The introduction of the post-UTME has done a lot of good in the system. Our education is suffering because of policy somersaults. Universities have autonomy to decide whom to enrol or employ. Besides, education belongs to the concurrent list, so the Federal Government can only issue 'decrees' to institutions that it can fund. I think the government should have a rethink about this decision.'
Also, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, through its new President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, said universities had the right to screen prospective students before admitting them.
According to Ogunyemi, the laws establishing universities empowered the Senate of each institution to determine the conditions for admission and graduation of students.
He noted, 'It is the duty of the university senate to set the cut-off marks for each of their programmes and set the guidelines to determine who is qualified for admission.
'The existence of JAMB or whatever score it sets cannot take away the statutory right of every university to determine who is qualified for their admission because that is vested in the senate of every university. Universities determine what would be the cut-off for each programme they run and the senate sets that score.'
He, nonetheless, noted that the union was against using the post-UTME to exploit candidates.
The unionist said. 'ASUU is against using screening to exploit students or as a way of generating funds as they (universities) are doing presently. We are against that.' - Punch.