2019 UTME: How prepared is JAMB amidst ‘schedule’ controversy with WAEC?

UJI ABDULLAHI ILIYASU reports that the 2019 UTME mock examination, which was marred by malfunctioning computers in some CBT centres questions the preparedness of JAMB to conduct valid and reliable examination in the main exercise amidst controversies surrounding why UTME would be scheduled same day with WAEC.

Malfunctioning systems

The mock examination conducted by the joint Admissions and Matriculation Examination (JAMB) in the first week of April to test their readiness for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) has been marred by a number of problems; chief among them was the malfunctioning systems installed in most of the CBT centres. This problem gave rise to inadequacy of time for some students to finish their test within the stipulated time.

Candidates whose systems did not function well were asked to stop taking the test at the time others with functioning systems were asked to stop work.

Students’ concerns

Many candidates who are expected to sit for the forthcoming Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) have expressed their disappointment over faulty computers which were installed in various Computer-Based Test (CBT) centres.

It is worthy of note that these centres had earlier been approved by JAMB to conduct the 2019 UTME.

Candidates who participated in the mock examination a couple of weeks earlier said that JAMB officials, despite being aware that the systems in the examination halls were not all functioning effectively at the same time, forced all candidates to stop writing at the same, regardless of the troubles some candidates were having with their systems.

One of the candidates who preferred anonymity was part of the candidates who sat for the mock test at Dutse, a suburb of Abuja. He told Blueprint that he was one of those who suffered the unjust treatment occasioned by computer malfunctioning at Dutse.  He added that it was unfair and discriminatory for JAMB to allow such incident to happen in an examination that involved fewer candidates than the main UTME and urged the examination body to avoid a repeat during the main examination schedulled for April 11.

Another candidate who also said he was unfairly treated in the examination hall, said some of the computers at his centre in Maitama, Abuja, virtually refused to function until about half an hour after other students with better systems were far into the test.

 “I expected JAMB to extend time for the candidates whose computers didn’t start at the same time as others, but JAMB officials were unconcerned in their haste to leave the mock examination centre as if someone was pursuing them.

 “Thank God this is mock as the name suggests. If JAMB does not put their acts together and this happens again, many candidates will miss the expected cut-off marks in the coming examination.”

Adherence to guidelines

Before now, JAMB had urged candidates for the 2019 UTME to adhere strictly to the printing order of their examination slips. This is to avoid unnecessary problems that trail such exercise in the past.

In JAMB’s weekly bulletin made available to Blueprint by its head of media and information, Dr Fabian Benjamin, the printing of the 2019 UTME notification slip was ongoing. The bulletin stated that the board had since made it ready for all candidates who registered for the 2019 examination.

“The notification is to allow candidates know their examination schedules, which includes time, date and venue of the examination.

“Candidates are therefore advised to take the printing order seriously in order for them to have an idea of the location of their centres, well ahead of the examination.

“It is also to enable them prepare for all necessary logistics of being at their respective centres on time,” the bulletin stated.

Dr Benjamin said those who were unable to access their slips through their portal at www.jamb.org.ng, would be provided with a step by step process of making the printing easy.

He advised candidates go to the official JAMB portal,www.jamb.org.ng/efacility /print examination slip, after that candidates would be required to enter their registration number, telephone number used in vending the pin at the point of registration or e-mail in the appropriate column and follow the next command.

 He advised candidates to print two copies of the examination slip in full, as one copy would be submitted at the centre while the second copy would be kept by the candidates for reference purpose, adding that there would be no rescheduling of the examination, no matter the reason.

The board asked all candidates to ensure that they were verified using the Biometric Verification Machine.

Also, JAMB warned candidates and parents and guardians to desist from paying UTME application fees to schools or tutorial centres.

It said that the warning became necessary owing to the growing practice of some elite schools/colleges and tutorial centres that collect money in bulk from candidates to register them en masse.

According to the bulletin, diligent investigation discovered that schools involved in the practice usually extort candidates by amount running into millions of naira for the registration.

“In this regard, it should be reiterated that the board does not do group registration, as candidates are required to do individual registration.

“The board has noted with displeasure a series of some of the unfortunate situation some of these schools, especially the elite ones, have put some candidates to go through.

“In their bid to make money, they engage in a series of infractions in the name of group registration and other acts inimical to the interest of the candidates and the sanctity of the examination.

“This kind of fraudulent registration ends up distorting candidate’s data,” it stated.

So,  the general public are warned to be mindful of unscrupulous schools or centres whose interests are pecuniary.

 Number of registered candidates

JAMB said that over 1.8 million candidates had so far registered for the UTME, which has been scheduled to commence on April 11.

 Head of media and information of the board, Dr. Fabian Benjamin, told journalists in Lagos.

Registration of candidates for Computer-Based Test (CBT) commenced on February 10 and terminated on February 21.

Registration success

Benjamin said that the registration was a huge success as there were no hitches across the various accredited registration centres nationwide.

“We have concluded the registration and we recorded over 1.8 million candidates for the UTME this year.

“Registration closed on February 21, when we stopped the pin vending for the exercise.

“However, some candidates who had acquired the pin but were unable to register before February 21, due to one reason or the other, were allowed to do so till 12 midnight, February 25. “The registration finally closed on February 25,” he said.

Malfunctioning systems

Stakeholders in the education sector are wondering why JAMB that made tens of millions of naira from sale of forms could not conduct proper mock test to justify the huge revenue realised.  Also candidates claimed that if some computers were unable to boot at the same time, those candidates lagging behind should be given extra time to finish their work for a level playing field for a reliable test.

It is equally important that JAMB inspected all the approved CBT centres a week before  the main examination to ascertain the readiness of the centres before hand. This is because the success of the registration is not as important as the success of the examination.

The effort by JAMB to make the 2019 registration of candidates for its UTME a huge success as declared by its spokesman, should be extended to the main examination to ensure success too.

 JAMB said, “Registration of candidates for this year’s examination has commenced in earnest in all accredited Computer Based Test centres nationwide.

“Today alone, I will say that the registration of candidates in Abuja, for instance, witnessed a massive turnout. It is as if the registration wanted to end today and I think it is a good beginning.

“We are anticipating a smooth exercise from the start to the finish, as we have put all the necessary things in place to achieve that,” Dr Benjamin said.

But to crown JAMB’s efforts in the processes, the UTME must enjoy more or equal success as the registration.

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