19 April 2013

Nigeria: NECO, UTME, Others Not Scrapped, Says Education Minister

Photo: IRIN
Students in Nigeria.

The National Examinations Council (NECO), Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and other similar examination bodies are not under any threat of being scrapped, the Federal Ministry of Education said yesterday.
Speaking in Abuja, while briefing the Senate Committee on Education, the Minister of State for Education, Mr. Nyeson Wike, said the federal government was shocked to read reports that it would scrap the examinations.

According to him, certain mischief makers whose intention was to distract the government and put it at loggerheads with the people were behind the "rumour," insisting that till date, the government has not taken any decision to scrap the examinations.
He explained that what informed the rumour was the report of a committee headed by former Head of Service, Steve Oronsaye, which made the recommendation, adding that what the government did was to set up another committee to review and examine the recommendation.

Wike said government would never take any decision without consulting stakeholders.
"We don't know where the rumour is coming from. We have not scrapped NECO, neither have we scrapped JAMB. Can anybody quote the Minister of Education or any department in the ministry where they said NECO or JAMB would be scrapped?
"Oronsaye committee only made recommendations and government set up another committee to look into the recommendations, saying “what are your views?' Before government takes any decision, it must consult stakeholders. So, no decision has been taken to scrap NECO and JAMB. Whatever decision we take will be in the interest of Nigerians," Wike insisted.

Also speaking at the meeting, the Registrar of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Dibu  Ojerinde, advised the federal government not to consider scrapping UTME, saying its effects would be too costly for both parents and students.
He also said scrapping UTME, would alter the unifying role that the examination is playing in the country today.
Ojerinde, who emphasised that UTME must not be scrapped, recalled a meeting of education stakeholders with senators last year where the fee for UTME was pegged at N4,000 and post UTME fee put at N2,000, disclosing that while JAMB has complied with the decision, universities have failed to abide by it.

While disclosing that there are only 500,000 spaces available for 1.56 million students seeking university education, Ojerinde said scrapping UTME would be too expensive for parents who would have to pay various examinations' fees for their children in different institutions where they seek admission.
He said this was not the case with UTME which he said required students to pay only N4,000 each with the option of six  choices of schools at universities, polytechnics and colleges of education from a single sitting.

Also speaking at the meeting, Registrar of NECO, Prof. Promise Okpala, denied allegations that the examination body was deliberately failing students, saying it has only put machinery in place to forestall examination practices.Such measures, he said, included biometrics, distribution of question sheets on examination day, use of customised answer sheets and employing the services of members of National Security Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), among others.
In his remark, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, said: "It's in the best interest of the nation to keep UTME because it is fulfilling a role that is beyond conducting examination," adding: "It is playing a unifying role."

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