Confusion is raging over this year’s Joint Admissions Matricu-lation Board Examination (JAMB) as eligible candidates across the country feared that the only approved mode of exams, the computer based test (CBT), is capable of disenfranchising them because of its technical challenges.
The CBT exam was earlier scheduled to start nationwide yesterday but could not hold due to some problems ranging from collapse of internet servers, logistics, congestion at the exams centres, extortion, among others, Daily Trust gathered.
This development forced JAMB to shift the exam to March 9. But candidates are still facing challenges in meeting the laid down procedures that are mostly electronic, fuelling their fears of disenfranchisement.
Some JAMB candidates, who spoke to our reporters in Kano, Katsina and Kwara states, have recounted their experiences which seemed to defy any solution for now.
In Kano, hundreds of candidates lay siege to the Kano State office of JAMB to collect the printout of their examination and centre numbers.
Some of the candidates told Daily Trust that they have spent days coming to the JAMB office without getting the examination and centre number.
Our reporters learnt that the candidates came from across the 44 local government of the state to collect their examination and centre number, less than five days to the exam date.
“I came from Dambatta Local Government Area after receiving a text message that my e-slip was ready. This is my third day of coming here but all I got from the officials are flimsy excuses and finally we were told that the examination date is now March 9,” a candidate who doesn’t want his name in print said.
Another candidate, Mohammed said: “I have been coming here for two days now, yet I didn’t get the print out of my e-slip. They keep on asking us to wait for a while because they are having some technical problems.”
Candidates faced similar hitches in Kwara State, our correspondent gathered, with candidates lamenting the inability to print out their examination e-slip ahead of the exam day.
Most students stormed internet cafes in Ilorin to print the examination slip but they were disappointed as they could not print them after several attempts.
Musbau Ismail, a candidate told our correspondent at Medak Internet Cafe in Ilorin that he had spent three hours at the cafe but unable to print the e-slip.
“I’ve been here since morning but I was told the server is not good and that the problem is from JAMB website. And we need this slip for the exam, I don’t know why the CBT has become problematic,” he said.
Another candidate, Aliyu Abdul said though the exam commences on March 9, he was not sure of when and where he would conduct the exam since he has been unable to print out the slip.
“I came to the cafe this morning. They asked me to come tomorrow. I only hope the problem would have been solved before then. It is frustrating seriously,” he said.
However, one candidate who prefers anonymity said she was able to print out her slips after one month of trying. “I gave my details to the cafe people and I was checking them for almost a month before they finally succeeded in printing out the slip,” she said.
In Katsina both parents and candidates are expressing concern over the CBT examination adopted by the board for this year’s examination.
Our reporter who visited JAMB office in Katsina along Kofar Sauri met students who decried the CBT exam and the additional fees of 100 naira they are made to pay to print out their e-slip.
A student said he was told to drop his data and return after 24 hours for his print out and should come along with 100 naira to collect it.
A parent whose three wards are slated for the Malumfashi centre, Lawal Saidu, said the CBT exam was introduced just to disenfranchise the northern rural candidates who are not conversant with computer.
He said it was only proper for JAMB to include the paper pencil test (PPT) as an option as it was done in previous years.
A source inside JAMB office in Kaduna said it is practically impossible to conduct the exam which is three batches per day with the poor internet services across the country.
“Every centre will conduct the test in three sessions: morning, afternoon and evening. The questions have to be uploaded before each session starts. The experience so far is that it took us between 3-4 hours to upload the question of a session,” the source said.
Apart from the poor internet services, the source said some most of the accredited centres are fraudulent. “There is this accredited private centre which had 250 computers when we visited it for supervision. But only yesterday, when the exam was about to start, our staff that went there for supervision reported that the centre had only 30 computers. It was clear that some of the centres borrowed computers before the supervision,” the source said.
With the various problems, it was clear that unless the other option of pencil paper test (PPT) was allowed as alternative, then over 70 percent of the candidates will be disenfranchised, the source said.
The whole exercise was fraught with irregularities because the accredited vendors have turned into extorting the applicants. The accredited centres charges between N200 to N400 for printing the e-slip in Kaduna.
Daily Trust findings show that these problems were earlier envisaged by some stakeholders but the board decided to ignore their concern.
The stakeholders in a memo raised questioned the viability of conducting only CBT examinations without providing alternatives of PPT despite the apparent challenges facing the computer based test.
A memo signed by four professors, dated January 2015 and addressed to President Goodluck Jonathan and Minister of Education Ibrahim Shekarau, a copy obtained by our reporter, said the CBT exams is capable of disenfranchising 70 percent of candidates majority of them from rural areas.
“The fall-out of the present decision by JAMB is extremely disturbing and both politically and socially discriminatory for over 70 percent of potential candidates,” the memo said.
It said, “By JAMB’s directives, all candidates have to register, after buying an application scratch-card for 6000 (six thousand naira) at a state JAMB office and or/ CBT center in the state. As it is, for most states in the country all or nearly all such centers are to be found only in state capitals.”
The stakeholders added but in the former mode which included PPT option, candidates can register anywhere and may invariably be sent to a center in, or near their village.
The stakeholders argued that the claim by JAMB that the CBT “has the advantage of issuing/releasing results at the end of each test, thereby reducing anxiety associated with waiting….and those ….e-Testing guides (sic) against exam malpractice which leads to the cancellation of candidate’s results” is not only disturbing but also misleading.
They explained JAMB conducts a selection exam, which means that it is not a pass or fail exam. “Thus for equity and fairness (as well as other professional considerations which are not necessary to get into here) the raw scores of all candidates who have sat for the selection exam of any particular year, are collated, analyzed and after taking into account all factors of overall performance, malpractice reports etc., a worked normalization percentage is agreed upon and applied overall. No one candidate is given advantage over others or disadvantaged,” they said.
They said the normalized results are what the board releases to the candidates and the institutions to which they have applied. “If through CBT now the results are released at the end of the test, which sort are they?” they queried.
A source in JAMB said the situation was greeted with problems as soon as it started because majority of the board offices across the country couldn’t download the question papers into their local servers.
The source said it was better if the CBT was allowed to go concurrently with the PPT option for another two to three years, until proper infrastructure for the CBT is put in place.
The source added that with the current problem all over the country, it was clear that unless the other options are allowed, majority of the prospective candidates would not write the test.
In his response, JAMB spokesperson Mr Fabian Benjamin denied that candidates spent up to one month before printing their e-slips.
To address the current challenges, the board had to send its officials to some centres to explain to the candidates how things should be done, Benjamin said.
Don’t forget to share this news with your friends using the Share buttons below….