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JAMB and Computer- Based UTME

The decision of the House of Representatives to reject the plan by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to use Computer-Based Test (CBT) method for some of the candidates taking the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) this year is timely and well thought out. The legislators’ suspension of the CBT for the 2013 UTME and their invitation to JAMB Registrar, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, and Education Minister, Prof. Ruqquayattu Rufai, to come and explain the reason for introducing the method this year, against the former plan to introduce it in 2015, are in order.

The decision of JAMB to contract the examination to private firms also drew queries from the legislators, who expressed concern on the rush for the CBT at a time that majority of the prospective candidates for the examination are not yet computer literate. We support the intervention of the House suspending the use of Computer-Based Test method for this year’s entrance examination into tertiary institutions in the country. The wisdom of the legislators’ decision is apparent, considering the fact that out of the one million and one hundred candidates that had registered for the examination as at January 26, 2013, only 4,000 selected the CBT option, in spite of the provision by JAMB for 150,000 candidates to use the computer mode.

The vast majority of the over one million candidates selected the Pen on Paper (PPT) option, confirming that the CBT is clearly unpopular. To worsen matters, the JAMB Registrar, while confirming that only 4,000 candidates selected the Computer-Based Test method for the examination, said some candidates who selected the Pen on Paper method may be forced to adopt the CBT option because the PPT centres would soon be filled up. This is contrary to his earlier statement that the CBT will be optional for all candidates in 2013 and 2014, before it becomes mandatory in 2015. This plan to force candidates that are not ready for the computer-based tests to take them is wrong. There is no reason to rush into the CBT method when the candidates are not prepared for it. It is not the duty of JAMB to force the e-testing method on candidates.

The examination body should adopt the method that can be used most effectively by the vast majority of the candidates. Even if the electronic testing method must be used from 2015, as earlier planned, it should be preceded by mock CBT tests in schools across the nation. There should also be pilot tests of the method in selected communities in all regions of the country to ensure that both the candidates and the examination body understand what the method entails, and can cope with its requirements. It is wrong to force candidates to take such an important examination using a method that they are not familiar with. Any attempt to force this method down the throats of candidates must be preceded by proper training of the candidates on the method in all schools, especially the public schools in remote parts of the country.

Apart from the problem of many candidates’ unfamiliarity with this testing method owing to their computer illiteracy, the poor power supply in the country is another challenge. Can JAMB, in all sincerity, say that electricity will be available to power computers in every nook and cranny of the country, including the far-flung and riverine areas, on the day of the examination? If the computers are battery-operated, is there any assurance that their batteries would be fully charged for the duration of the examination? While not arguing the importance of moving along with the developed world in the use of computer-based assessments, Nigeria ought to exercise caution with regard to adoption of nationwide e-examinations.

This is because such examinations must be held simultaneously in every part of the country. The system does not leave room for any candidate to retake the examination if something goes wrong with the computer assigned to him/her. Moreover, pervasive computer illiteracy in the nation’s remote rural areas, where some candidates may never even have seen a computer before, may scuttle this rush to e-testing. The House of Representatives is also right to query the decision of JAMB to contract the examination to private companies. Ojerinde seems confident that the private CBT centres accredited for the examination have efficient power supply.

Assuming that these institutions really do have reliable electricity supply, how many of the over a million candidates spread throughout 774 local government areas in the country can they accommodate? Although the CBT method is good in that it will reduce the cost of the UTME, ensure quicker release of results and possibly improve integrity of the examination, adoption of the method should not be rushed. Let JAMB design a foolproof method to surmount glaring logistical loopholes that could mar this testing module before dumping the existing Pen on Paper method.

Source
Sun News
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Hey, I'am Babanature. A webdesigner, blogspot developer, UI/UX Designer and entertainment personality. I'am also a business speaker, marketer, Blogger and Javascript Programmer.

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