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President Muhammadu Buhari’s reduction of the registration fees for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) conducted by the National Examinations Council (NECO) is seen as a relief in many quarters. But some students, parents and teachers believe it is a political gimmick.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s reduction of the registration fees for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) organised by the National Examinations Council (NECO) last week, has come as a relief for many students, parents and teachers.

This is so considering that the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has been remitting huge revenue to the Federal Government coffers since Prof Ishaq Oloyede became Registrar in 2016. Just before Buhari reduced the fees, Oloyede said, while delivering the convocation lecture at the Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED), that the board remitted N9 billion to the Federal Government – a far cry from the N300 million target set by the former Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun; and the N500 million set by the Education Minister, Malam Adamu Adamu.

As a result of the reduction, candidates for the 2019 UTME and the NECO SSCE will pay N1,500 less than was charged for this year’s examinations. The UTME will now cost N5,000, while NECO SSCE will cost N9,850.

Many have praised Buhari for the reduction.

Appreciating the move, some students, especially those funding their own education, or who come from low-income backgrounds, said it would lift a huge burden from them.

When The Nation broke the news of the fee reduction to Adeniyi Adeola, a student, and Junaid Qudus, an artisan. They expressed delight at the reduction.

Adeola said: “I never heard of this until you said it. This reduction would be very helpful to youths and to me because am planning on taking the 2019 UTME and this reduction is a very huge help to me because of the financial state of my,” he said.

Qudus, on his part, hoped it would continue beyond the 2019 election year.

“Reduction? Wow! This is a very big opportunity for striving youths not to lose interest in education because of the high costs of examination forms. I would be very glad if President Buhari or any other person that wins the 2019 election to continue this tradition because it is a very productive development for youths,” he said.

Muneer Yaqub, a student of the Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto, said the relief to students would be enormous.

“The reduction is a very welcome development that is needed because as a student myself, I know the problems so many students go through to obtain the UTME form and I know that there are a lot of students out there who want to participate in the exams but because of the high fees of those exams can’t. But with this reduction at least some people would be relieved,” he said.

Adebiyi Mutiat, a student of Kwara State Polytechnic, Ilorin, said the reduction was in keeping with Buhari’s track record of excellence.

“The reduction coming from President Buhari is nothing new because since his inauguration as President, he has proved himself to be someone who wants development for Nigeria and its citizens. PDP for over 16 years has not been able to contribute their own productive quota to Nigeria’s development but within the four years of Buhari’s administration, he has been able to do mcuh,” he said.

The Ogun State Secretary of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Mr Abiodun Oyediran, said the reduction was evidence that the examining bodies had been exploiting parents in the past with high fees.

“Recent revelations about JAMB indicate that parents have been unduly exploited for so long. So, if the Federal Government considers it good to reduce the fees, it is okay. That is why public opinion about it is favourable,” he said.

Some others have, however, claimed that the reduction was simply political, especially as the President is seeking re-election next year.

Mr David Ekong, a public servant in Calabar, said if political, it may not be sustainable.

“It is just a political move and nothing more. I don’t see any considerable difference in the former and present prices. If they were sincere and wanted to really help the people, they should have made it free. After all, they say JAMB has generated so much. I don’t see it as anything commendable and I even wonder how long it would be sustained.

However, whether political or not, many parents gave kudos to the President for easing the burden on the masses.

With four of his wards preparing to write the 2019 UTME, Mr Etuk Eyibio, a Cross River-based parent, said the saving was significant.

“Although I think that it is a political move as we are in the political season, I still give kudos to the Federal Government for choosing something that will make life easier for the masses. They could as well have floated something vague in the name politics but this one of reducing these costs is good for us. I only wish they can make it cheaper still. I would be buying forms for four people in my household and the reduction, though not much would ease the financial strain a little,” he said.

Mrs Rita Inyang, a parent, said it was a step in the right direction, especially as JAMB was making money.

“It is a welcome development and a good pointer to the achievements of the Federal Government. We are all witnesses to the fact that for the first time, JAMB was generating and remitting so much money to the Federal Government. This, I believe, has been partly responsible for why they reduced the price. I am grateful for the development, but the Federal Government needs to do more,” she said.

Mallam Murtala Abubakar, a Kano resident, said even if the reduction by the president is political, “in my opinion it has tremendously benefited us; as such, let it continue to be political as long as we are benefiting from him.”

Abubakar further said despite the deduction, many parents might not be able to afford the payment of the fees due to the biting economic situation in the country.

He mirrored the concern of some others who said the problems in the education sector and the economy could not be solved by N1,500 reduction.

Regardless of the reduction, Blessing Agbaje does not see how it is possible to get a university education.

The teenager, who hawks goods in Ikeja, Lagos said, though welcomed, it would have little or no impact on her.

“I would love to further my education in the university but who will support me. I hawk goods for my aunty, which at the end of the day, it cannot even cover for three square meals. Even if I am able to purchase the JAMB form at the new price, I cannot go further than that. So, of what use is the JAMB form to me?” she asked.

The reduction does not also give Chuks Nnamdi much hope.

He said: “Well for me, it does not change anything. After writing the UTME, you are denied admission just on the basis of money. The recent UTME I could not participate because there was no possibility that the money for my admission would be ready for admission process begins. My dad rides okada( commercial motor cycle). Even to raise the N5,000 to purchase the form, I remember how difficult it was for him two years ago.”

A student, Austin Ike, said the government should overhaul the education sector instead.

He said: “How will the reduction in price solve the problems in education? The sector needs overhauling. How much attention has been given to the sector? So, if the form is purchased, what next? Is this a fair deal with students in the country? Or is this an insult to our intelligence? Should he use us for his political gains? I am so disappointed. Did he just realise that N5,000 is a big amount of money to some? I see this move as a big insult and demeaning to all students and aspiring students who want to be educated.”



Source: http://thenationonlineng.net/cheers-jeers-utme-neco-ssce-fee-cut/

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