Appraising JAMB’s approach to eliminate examination fraud with new innovations
Yearly, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), conducts Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) for millions of students yearning for university, polytechnic and monotechnic education nationwide.
In the past, the process of registration and other logistics made the conduct of the examination tedious and cumbersome for organisers.The exercise was often characterised by missing scripts, missing results, insufficient writing materials, disorderliness, cheating, impersonation, and high level examination fraud. This however made observers to question the credibility of the body, which solely conducts entrance examination into the nation’s higher institutions.
Due the growing incidence of examination fraud and other sharp practices, the post-UTME was introduced to enable individual universities scrutinise and choose candidates they are accepting in their institutions.
It was in a bid to restore sanity, confidence, credibility and trust in a system that many were clamouring for its scrap that the Computer-Based Test (CBT) system was introduced by JAMB under the leadership of Prof. Dibu Ojerinde.
Though the new system is yet to be perfected, it has been variously criticised based on infrastructural, mechanical and technological challenges confronting it. But recent innovation by the board seems to have given it a midas touch.
Prior to its introduction, the board conducted its examination using the Paper-Pencil Test (PPT) format. The CBT at first was made optional for candidates to choose between CBT and PPT until 2015 when the board made it compulsory for all candidates.
Issues and challenges
The major issue that characterised CBT mode of the UTME since it was introduced is poor internet services, system failure, technical hitches, server breakdown, power outage, and conflicting results among others.
For this year’s UTME, it was slow registration process, which caused panic among candidates, though it was later rectified as candidates that registered thereafter attested that the process was smooth and faster.
Another issue was the case of posting candidates outside their states of residence, but the JAMB spokesman, Dr. Fabian Benjamin, had explained that candidates are being dishonest to their parents, as the body does not choose examination town for candidates.
“The UTME registration platform was designed in such a way that candidates are allowed to make their choice. It is a drop down that allows users to choose one value or option from a list. They choose their examination town and the computer electronically distributes them to CBT centre within the town of their choice. For instance, if a candidate chooses Ikeja as his/her examination town, such candidate will be posted to a CBT centre within Ikeja. If centres in Ikeja are filled up, you won’t see Ikeja in the drop down menu.
Corroborating Benjamin’s view, CBT centre administrator, Adekunle Banjo, an engineer, said JAMB does not choose exam centre for candidates. “The candidates themselves choose and select examination town where they wish to write the examination. In Lagos, we have about 20 locations candidates can choose from, but what happened was that by the fourth week of registration, Lagos examination locations were filled up. So candidates were choosing centres outside Lagos out of desperation to write the exam.
But during the two-week extension, JAMB brought back Lagos locations and it was open until the last day of the registration. So all the candidates that registered at that time were choosing centres outside Lagos state,” he clarified.
Despite the challenges, many stakeholders still believe CBT is the way to go, since it is in line with global best practices and has the capacity to eliminate examination malpractice to the barest minimum if not entirely. Not only has it brought sanity in the general conduct of the examination, it has also eliminated impersonators who are being sponsored to write examinations for candidates who have the financial muscles.
With the recent innovation of the central Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras, by JAMB in monitoring the ongoing Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) nationwide, the board seems to be on the verge of eliminating examination malpractices.
Officials at the board’s headquarter are able to monitor activities in all the centres nationwide where the CCTV is installed. Candidates and supervisors are also being watched and recorded.
Banjo who discussed the trend with The Guardian, said the world over technology has proven to be a reliable means of monitoring and eliminating fraud in any given form, and CBT method is not an exception.
This according to him is even more beneficial particularly now that the quest for university education is extremely high when compared to figures in the previous years. This year according to the board, 1.736 million candidates registered for the 2017 UTME. The number is high when compared with the 1,272,284 candidates that wrote the test in 2016.
“The students are very conscious because of the camera. All those silent discussions and minor cheating that goes on in examination hall have been eliminated. And again, we have more officials on ground to witness the entire exercise unlike the previous years. So there are new innovations and CBT I envisage is heading towards perfection. I can assure you that the issue of examination malpractices will soon be a history.”
He therefore urged government at all levels, technology experts and concerned stakeholders to partner the board and help it achieve its desire of selecting credible and responsible candidates for higher education.
He added that if all the CBT centres are well equipped with modern facilities, such that the server, generator or computer will not break down midway into the examination, “then the new CBT system is perfect.”A candidate, Chidimma Ubaka, in a chat with The Guardian, affirmed that there was no room for cheating as every candidate is made to co0ncentrrate on his exam.
“There it is every man to their tent, no talking, or spying except you don’t want to write the exam. The innovation is good particularly for those that were truly prepared. For those that came in with the intention of cheating, it was frustration.”
On his part, the CBT centre administrator, Institute of criminal justice and Criminology, Joseph Chikezie Ogbunando said all the challenges encountered in the past are now history.
“The new system adopted is overwhelming. The new innovations was designed to check malpractices and we appreciate that because it makes our job easier, and with that examination fraud in the centres will be eliminated. CBT is a good innovation, the best thing that has happened to this country, as far as testing candidates’ knowledge and proficiency is concerned.