The Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board has said that it lacks the power to withdraw In Dependence, the book currently being used for the Use of English Test in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination.
The board, however, said it had invited assessors at the Nigerian Academy of Letters, the highest authority on arts in the country, to propose amendments to portions of the book deemed graphic and immoral by stakeholders in the education sector.
It would be recalled that the Parent-Teacher-Association of The Crescent School, Lagos, had recently petitioned the JAMB, the National Examination Council and the Federal Ministry of Education, over some recommended texts for candidates sitting for the UTME, the Basic Education Certificate Examination and pupils in the Junior Secondary School 1.
In a letter written to the agencies and signed by the Head of School, The Crescent Schools, Alhaja Fatimah Mahmud-Oyekan, the books – In Dependence by Sarah Manyika, Tears of A Bride by Oyekunle Oyedeji and The Precious Child by Queen Okweshine, were described as “glamourising acts of indecency such as rape, violence, kidnapping, defilement and sexualisation of knowledge.’’
However, speaking in a meeting that included representatives of The Crescent School, the National Parent-Teacher Association of Nigeria, the Christian Association of Nigeria and the NAL on Wednesday in Abuja, the Registrar, JAMB, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, said In Dependence replaced the originally recommended text Last Days at Forcados High School, by AH Mohammed, which was to be used by UTME candidates for a period of four years “because examiners felt that after two years of using the book, there were no questions that would be set that had not been set. The content had been exhausted but the duration of time that JAMB signed with the publisher had not been exhausted. That was why we decided to use another book as a substitute from the same publisher.’’
Oloyede also disclosed that he had misgivings about the illustrations on the cover of the book when he first sighted it. He added that after he invited assessors from the NAL to provide suggestions for offending portions of the book, he was surprised to find that there were three versions of the book.
“I am not willing to renew the agreement with the publisher. We have made up our minds that we are going to be referring our recommended texts to the Nigeria Academy of Letters in the future for assessment,’’ he said.
In her address, Mahmud- Oyekan said, “The book is prescribed and it has become compulsory. What it means is that you must read it, enjoy it and pass it. When our children become undergraduates, they can do what they want, but now that they are still under our watch as parents and educators, it is not acceptable.”