Fed Govt lists six conditions to reopen varsities, others

There was a ray of hope on Tuesday that varsities and other schools may reopen after some precautionary measures have been put in place against Coronavirus Disease.

The Federal Government however,  listed six conditions for each school to fulfill before to protect pupils and students against Coronavirus Disease(COVID-19).

It also asked all heads of schools to start working on how to put the measures in place ahead of resumption of classes..

Among other conditions, the government is demanding decontamination of all schools and  new class sizes, which will accommodate social and physical distancing.

Besides, the government assured anxious parents of final year secondary school students that it was discussing with the National Examinations Council (NECO), National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) and West Africa Examinations Council (WAEC) on ways of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic challenge.

The discussion had been focusing on how the students will sit for the Senior School Certificate Examination.

But the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board(JAMB) yesterday released cut-off marks for admission into universities, polytechnics , colleges of education and other institutions.

The cut-off marks are minimum of 160(university); 120(polytechnic); 100(College of Education) and monotechnics / others (100+).

The Minister of State for Education, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba announced the conditions for the reopening of schools  in Abuja at the 2020 Policy Meeting on Admissions to Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board(JAMB).

Nwajiuba said: “The Presidential Task Force is working assiduously with facts and figures that mirror the reality of our current situation and circumstance.

We are making use of them to respond to the challenges in such a way that we can limit and manage the negative effects of the pandemic.

”While we Iook forward to easing the Iockdown which win ultimately lead to re-opening of our campuses, I urge all  the Heads of Institutions not to wait till the announcement on reopening before putting in place all necessary measures in compliance with the protocols and advisories of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

“All Institutions must have (1) Hand-washing facilities, (2) Body temperature checks (3) Body disinfectants at all entering points to their major facilities including the gates, hostels, classes, offices, etc. (4) The whole premises of each institution must be decontaminated and (5) All efforts must be geared toward maintenance of the highest level of hygiene (6) Ensure Social] Physical Distancing in class sizes and meeting spaces.

“Let me seize this opportunity to commend institutions that responded promptly with different innovations, including the manufacturing of some of the facilities that are required to attend to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“I am elated with the efforts that led to the production of Ventilator, Body Disinfectant, Hand Washing and Liquid Dispensers, Body Temperature Gauges, and many more. These are manifestations of the abundance of talents in the country and the result of research.”

The Minister pleaded with parents to bear the continued closure of schools with the government.

He added: “Let me assure all compatriots that the government is very much concerned about the long Iockdown of the nation’s education institutions in particular and the economy in general.

“The Federal Government is doing everything possible to ensure that both lives and livelihood are given the top most priority that they deserve.

“We are aware that we must be alive to make a living while at the same time we are conscious that we must have a livelihood to stay a life.

“The Presidential Task Force is working assiduously with facts and figures that mirror the reality of our current situation and circumstance.

We are making use of them to respond to the challenges in such a way that we can limit and manage the negative effects of the pandemic. “

On the fate of students, who were due for Senior School Certificate Examination in May and June, the Minister said the government was in talks with examination bodies.

He added: “The holding of this Policy Meeting signifies the commencement of admission to the Nation’s Tertiary Institutions, mindful of the fact that majority of the applicants are still waiting to sit for their qualifying examinations, the Senior School Certificate Examination by National Examinations Council (NECO), National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) and West Africa Examinations Council (WAEC).

“While the Presidential Task Force is working towards the easing of more restrictions, the Federal Ministry of Education is equally discussing with the examination bodies on ways and means of responding to the challenge.”

He said pending when a decision on the candidates is taken, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board and tertiary institutions can proceed with the conduct of 2020/2021 admissions.

He said government will make arrangement that will accommodate candidates who will be taking Senior School Certificate Examination when the opportunity to do so is worked out.

He added: “As major stakeholders, we must jointly come up with reactions that would realign our programmes to these new realities.

“While these reactions are being fine-tuned to check their capacities and capabilities to withstand the new reality, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and Tertiary Institutions could take advantage of the current situation, and consider candidates with previous years Senior School Certificate Examination and other qualifying results, to proceed on with the admission process.

“Whatever arrangement that the country comes up with in the long run, will surely accommodate those who will be taking the examination when the opportunity to do so is worked out.”

Nwajiuba reeled out other plans including the use of National Identity Card for all for all public examinations; pegging post-UTME charge at N2,000; enforcement of  compliance with admission timeline; and banning all institutions from recapturing  biometric or photograph of any candidate other than what JAMB has done.

He said: “It is noted that cases of impersonation at the Nation’s public examination have not abated. Concerted efforts are being made by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to adopt and use the National Identity Number during the 2020 registration exercise, and I was also fully briefed on the obstacles encountered.

“The Federal Ministry of Education is poised to ensure that the issue of identity management at the nation’s examination is addressed in the coming years’ examinations.

“The Ministry would be interfacing with National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) early enough before the next round of registration for all public examinations, in order to explore the possibility of achieving the single identity that would be foolproof.

“JAMB is therefore urged to re-engage National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to restart the joint effort. It is hoped that the success of the project would be such that would be easy and seamless for other examination bodies to latch on, as all exam registrations from 2021 will have a NIMC number that will be carried on all certificates thereafter, to save our nation from the on-going embarrassment in both the judicial and political space.

“Let everyone he reminded of the existing directive, that in order to curb impersonation and other vices, “No institution should recapture biometric or photograph of any candidate for any other purpose, including Post Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (PUTME) registration.

“Rather the Board has been directed to always make both biometric and facial images of candidates available to the Institutions at no cost. I am reliably informed that this has already been done and most of the Institutions have already downloaded the details.

“In addition and for the purposes of emphasis, no institution is allowed to charge more than N2,000 (including the bank charges). The Ministry is monitoring compliance and we would not hesitate to sanction anyone who violates any of these directives.

“In the same vein, all Institutions should ensure compliance with the timeline collectively agreed at this Policy Meeting on the completion of the admission exercise. We must realign our academic calendar, including the period of admission with global dictates.”

JAMB Registrar, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, said 612, 557 candidates were admitted out  of 1,157,977 who wrote the 2019 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).

The registrar said 510,957 admission spaces were unused by tertiary institutions in 2019.

After consensus by Vice Chancellors, Rectors and Provosts of higher institutions in the country, Oloyede announced the cut-off marks for admission for 2020/21 academic Session.

The cut-off marks are minimum of 160(university); 120(polytechnic); 100(College of Education) and monotechnics / others (100+).

He added: “”The minimum score as decided at the meeting for universities will be 160, for polytechnics will be 120 and for colleges of education will be 100.

This is without prejudice to the score standard set by each university, polytechnic, college of education and others.

“What they are saying is that no institution would be allowed to admit a candidate into universities if you have scored less than 160 in UTME.

“But that is not the only thing that will be taken for admission. Some of the candidates  will do Post- UTME and some of them will do physical assessment and that will be added to it (UTME score) to determine the cut-off or what we call the minimum score.

“Nobody can admit a candidate with a score less than what the institution has  prescribed. That is, those who set 210 can be 210 not 209. Those who set 200 marks will stick to 200. But  nobody is allowed to go below 160 for universities.”

“Awaiting result candidates will only be considered for admission only when they upload their results on our website not on the website of the institution. They must upload their O’ level results on the board’s portal before the commencement of admission exercise.”

<<The Nation>>