UTME: Fear of computer-based test sparks controversy

Filed in EDUCATION NEWS by on January 28, 2014 0 Comments

Towards the next Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination holding in April, stakeholders want the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board to create more exam centres. But the board says ‘No’,CHARLES ABAH writes

Student taking the UTME 360x270

Candidates writing UTME.

Stakeholders have appealed to the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board to revisit its examination plans for the forthcoming Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination.
They made the appeal on Monday, saying there was the need for the board to open more examination centres for candidates seeking to write its paper test.

While this year’s Paper Pencil Test and Dual-Based Test will hold on April 5, the agency has yet to fix a date for the Computer-Based Test.

A lawyer and an educationist, Mr. Yomi Giwa, who frowned on the dearth of PPT centres in the ongoing registration exercise, said JAMB, by the action, had disenfranchised many candidates seeking to write the paper-based test.

The development, he said, was worrisome, adding that the plan of the examination body was to compel the candidates to write the CBT.

Giwa, who stressed the need for freedom of choice, said the imposition of the CBT on the candidates was “strange.”

Besides, he stated that there was no guarantee that it would be hitch-free.

He said, “Has JAMB made provisions for such lapses as power failure and the sudden collapse of the server? Even if it has, that is no justification for forcing candidates to take the CBT.

“Look at what happened the other day at the University of Lagos. Its server went down as potential postgraduate students were writing their qualifying examinations.

What is the assurance that the candidates will experience a hitch-free examination?”

Another parent, who craved anonymity because he is a civil servant, faulted the alleged imposition of the CBT on candidates.

He said, “The exam body is unfair to the candidates. The choice is for the candidates to make. If one prefers the PPT, one should be allowed to use the process, but if another wants the CBT, so be it.

“Again, the computers can develop a fault on the examination day. Is it not the candidates that will be at the receiving end?

“As far as I am concerned, we are not mature enough for that. In e-banking in the country, there are many occasions where customers were debited without getting any money. So, what is the assurance that the computers will not crash on the examination day and so frustrate the candidates?”

Also, a teacher in a Lagos private school, Mr. Babatunde Nurudeen, while criticising the CBT initiative, said many students were not conversant with computers.

The teacher, who urged JAMB to engage in more enlightenment campaign, said the new platform would frustrate many candidates, especially those from local schools.

According to him, in such institutions, there are no computers, Internet and other modern communication facilities.

But an ICT developer, Chuddy Nwandu, said the CBT would help to curb examination malpractice in the UTME.
He said, “The recurrent examination fraud in the UTME would end with the CBT.

Examination leakage is associated with the paper-based tests and I strongly believe that the CBT will put a stop to that. In the computer-based test, one can hardly know what is set prior to the examination. Again, the release of the results via the process is almost immediate.

So, with all of these facts, the likelihood of ‘expo’ is very remote.”

Meanwhile, JAMB has warned that it would not create additional PPT centres.
The board, in a mail to cybercafé operators, said, “Please advise the candidates yet to register to select the Computer -Based Testing centres for their exams, instead of waiting for the opening of more centres in the already-filled-up examination towns/areas.
“Please, note that no additional centres will be opened in towns already filled up. The CBT has been so simplified that persons with no prior computer knowledge can take the test on their own.”

Also, the board’s Head of Public Relations, Mr. Fabian Benjamin, told our correspondent on Monday, that it did not shut out anybody from writing either the PPT or the CBT.

He said, “The board has devised the CBT in line with modern technological trend. It is an answer to examination malpractice. With the CBT, there will be no smuggling of materials by the candidates into the examination halls.

“The board has so simplified the platform that an average user of the GSM can easily do the CBT. The wind of the CBT is blowing everywhere and the country cannot be an exception. Even for students kicking against the initiative, have they forgotten that many of the Nigerian universities are now using it for the post-UTME? So, even if they avoid it at this level, there is the likelihood that they will do the test before securing admission to the university.”

Benjamin, who urged Nigerians to support the board to move to loftier heights, said other international examination bodies across the world were using the CBT.

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