Many candidates that sat for the last Post-Universities Matriculation Examination in the University of Lagos did not prepare for it. It came to them as a surprise because of the rumour that the Post UME test was scrapped by the Federal Ministry of Education. They thought after passing the JAMB examination they would just be admitted into the university.

What was a rumour has become a reality. On May 27, 2010 the House of Representatives ordered the Federal Ministry of Education and the National Universities Commission to abolish the Post-UME examination into Nigerian Universities.

Students in the secondary schools nowadays do not want to study, they prefer to have sex and fun instead of reading. For instance, in the P.M.NEWS edition published on May 25, 2010, we read a report on some students of the Junior Secondary School arm of Oriwu College in Ikorodu, Lagos State were rounded up by the school authorities in a corner of the school where male and female students usually engaged in sexual activities during school hours. In this era of advanced technology, students watch pornography on the internet and sex videos on mobile phones. Early this year, there was a report on the new practice known as “sexting” which involves girls taking photographs of their own private parts and circulating same among friends and the photographs find their way on the internet.

Parents are responsible for this phenomenon and moral decadence in our schools. This is because these parents are too busy everyday in the pursuit of financial and material possessions to the detriment of education success of their children. They have little or no time at all to check the progress of their wards in schools, control their movements and know the type of company they keep.

Instead of parents  giving good advice to their children to take their studies seriously as the only way to achieve success in education, they behave otherwise by engaging in dubious activities which will affect them in future. They buy for them examination question papers and register them in a “miracle center” in order for them to pass their WAEC, GCE and JAMB examinations without having the requisite knowledge in the subjects.

These examination malpractices and corruption are rampant in secondary schools in Lagos State and the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Princess Sarah Sossan had promised to put an end to the bad practice. For instance, in a report P.M.NEWS published on 15 April, 2010 we read of her vow to prosecute WAEC cheats. How far she had gone on this matter is everybody’s guess. Shockingly, WEC/JAMB examiners, principals of schools, police and even the invigilators are all involved in examination malpractices. We wonder from where she is going to start the war.

However tough the battle may be, effort should be geared towards eradicating this decadence in our society because it does nobody any good. I have a friend whose daughter was preparing for JAMB examination a few years ago. But each time I visited her father, I always saw her sitting on a bench outside the house in the evening in the midst of boys phoning or discussing about nude clubs spreading in Ikeja. One day, I challenged her: “You told me you are going to sit for JAMB examination but I have never seen you one day reading your book. Why?” and she replied: Uncle, don’t worry about me. I will pass. I said “how?” She said, “you will see. She had since obtained a degree in chemistry in one of the universities and she is doing badly in life.

That is why those who introduced post-UME test in 2005 did it for many reasons. In the first place, to help the university authorities screen out candidates who are not eligible for admission. In the second place, the test is being conducted to allow candidates who claimed to have scored high marks in UME to prove it and to defend the result. Let the House of Representatives tell Nigerians what is wrong with the Post-UME test to compel them to scrap it. What is going to happen to candidates for Colleges of Education and Polytechnic? Are they too not going to write Post-UME test? The truth of the matter is that Post-UME test should not be scrapped. Thank God some honest Nigerians are coming out to give their own opinions on the important issue. One of such was Mr. Gbenga Omilola, the Public Relations Officer of Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, Ogun State. In The Punch report of June 10, 2010 he said that the abolition of the post Universities Matriculation Examination test by the National Assembly would have a negative impact on the standard of education in Nigerian universities.

He said scrapping the test would give an undue advantage to unqualified candidates to gain admission into Nigerian universities. The truth of the matter is that our standard of education has nosedived and our degrees are not respected by foreign universities and employers. I suggest from now on any change in government policy on education should be a national issue that is to receive 2/3 of votes cast in all local, state and federal governments including the Federal Capital territory, Abuja before implementation. It should not be the prerogatotive of the National Assembly. This will go a long way in improving the standard of education in the country.

Rather than scrapping Post-UME test, the House of Representatives should order the universities to reduce to the barest minimum the exorbitant fees they charge candidates who take part in the test. The fear being expressed in some quarters is that a time will come when our universities will be graduating quack doctors, products of examination malpractices that will infected our hospitals.

The implications of such a situation are too grave to be allowed to manifest themselves. The best option in the circumstances is to allow the Post-UME test to stay in order to sanitise the universities.

•Sunday Suleman wrote in from the Dept of European Languages, University of Lagos, Nigeria