JAMB – It’s Time For Comprehensive Reforms

By Mark Adebayo 

“Many of the great reforms of society do not come from the upper levels, but from the upheavals of the lower strata”.

     – Lewis F. Korns

I wrote my first Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board examination in 1984. I collected the JAMB Form with a comprehensive package of Brochures for N20. Yeah! Twenty Naira only. I paid Fifteen thousand Naira each for my son and granddaughter who wrote JAMB this year. That’s not even the issue. 

In 1984, I chose the examination venue that was most convenient for me among the listed ones on the Form. Not anymore!

Today, things are much more complicated and unnecessarily so. For both parents and students it’s a traumatic experience altogether.

It is not my intention to dwell on the whole tails of woe that trail the JAMB processes and the needless cumbersomeness strewn into it nowadays. I  only intend to discuss one element out of it all. Examination venues.


Unlike the 80s, the examinee has no choice about where he writes the examination. JAMB has what amounts to a draconian authority to decide for him. A child collects JAMB Form in Lagos State, fills in a Lagos state home address, but JAMB picks Akure, or some remote village in Ondo State for him as his examination center.

How on earth should that be? What informed this punitively imposed tourism with all the attendant dangers of accident, kidnapping and unwarranted financial burdens on already overburdened parents struggling to get their children educated under an atrocious economy such as ours?

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It is common knowledge that there is policy anarchy in the Nigerian governance space and this has extended to the educational sector now bedeviled by unconscionable crises. The feeling I get is that those formulating our educational policies behave like an uneducated assemblage of backward thinkers. If anything is wrong with your education,  everything will go wrong in your society.

Every nation is a reflection of the education it feeds its younger generations with. The educational legacy bequeathed the children and youths in a given nation is a fundamental determinant of the general direction of that nation – whether progress or retrogression, advancement or stagnation,  sophistication or mediocrity.

India has just overtaken China as the most populous nation on earth. However,  China is among the richest and strongest nations on earth today because of the use it has put its humongous population to whilst India is wallowing in unprecedented poverty per capita of its population. A lot has to do with the system of formal and informal educational systems operated in China besides the strong institutional and political willpower that has guaranteed stupendous advances in science and technology and a healthy economy.

The JAMB system of choosing venues for examination candidates without being sensitive to the proximity of the examination centers to where the latter is domiciled is a big disincentive to education.  Whoever introduced that system is not only unprofessional but also ignorant.


Of what particular advantage is it for an examination candidate to travel hundreds of kilometers to sit for an examination? Parents have to abandon their works to travel with their children to a far distance often a day to the examination, sleep in a hotel in order to arrive the examination venue timely and remain at the examination venue untill the examinationis over, pass another night there and travel back home on the third day.

Many parents who cannot afford to travel with their children go through the trauma of having to let their children travel alone to hitherto unknown destinations. They remain tensed up until their children return safely from such hazardous trips. Some, unfortunately, never return nor return alive!

How is this desirable for our children’s education ? How is this beneficial to our society. This policy must be reversed forthwith and examination candidates allowed to choose the nearest examination centers available to them.

The drafters of our educational policies must develop a child-friendly indigenous system of education that makes education interesting and not repulsive to the younger generations.

Somehow,  we have a way of making everything difficult for everyone in this country, especially for the less privileged. To collect or renew your international passport or driver’s licence is war. To collect Certificate of Occupancy is extremely frustrating under a terribly corrupt system that makes acquiring property extremely difficult. To worsen the matter,  the Governor of a state has constitutional authority to withdraw your C of O under the flimsiest and most ridiculous of excuses at whim. Oftentimes,  that’s politically motivated either as punishment for criticizing the Governor or belonging to the opposition.

Top of it all is access to justice.  The most inaccessible commodity in Nigeria today is justice because it goes, more often than not, to the highest bidders.

Easy things are complicated in Nigeria simply because we operate a system that works at cross-purposes and antithetical to progress and civilization. Until this changes, Nigeria cannot amount to much in due course.







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