Aftermath of 2015 JAMB exam and need for restitution
THAT we live in ‘computer age’ is a fact, that the computer is always and necessarily optimistic is not. The recently concluded Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examination held across the country amply substantiates this position.
When the board announced that starting from 2015 all its examinations would be computer based, many saw it as a welcome development considering the fact that the board had been at the receiving end of the dwindling fortune of the nation’s education sector.
Some had argued for its scrapping and the responsibility of conducting admission examination into the nation’s high institutions vested in individual high institutions.
After the relative success recorded last year, when the Computer Based Test (CBT) was optional, expectations were high as candidates braced up for the new system, fully aware it was not business as usual. For those with little or no knowledge of computer, the need for computer education became inevitable.
And on Saturday, March 21, 2015, the last batch of candidates took the examination amid grumbling and vexation. Some of the candidates frowned at what they said was an experience they least expected, much less deserve. Some were so unfortunate that the computer they used restricted them to only two subjects against the mandatory four.
While for some, the problem ranged from network failure to slow response of the computer, mouse malfunctioning, display of wrong subjects, power failure, etc.
Some were frustrated that they had to settle for subjects they did not choose while filling their forms, and consequently answering questions they never prepared for. For these candidates, the examination was already over before they started.
One wonders the criteria used by the examination authority in choosing the centres that were used. Obviously, some of them borrowed the equipment they presented during their accreditation, and now the students are made the scapegoats for their unprofessional practice.
It is on this premise that I appeal to the government to make restitution so as to give the affected candidates the deserved sense of belonging.
An important part of making of restitution is the acknowledgment it provides that the actions causing injury or offence were unjust and such actions will be curtailed and corrected. In any political association, obligation is a prerogative of not just the citizens, but the government as well. In particular, governments as well as their various institutions have a prima facie obligation to satisfy the liabilities they incur.
This is indeed a matter of corrective justice, where paradigmatically, the government as the offender is to make restitution to the victim of his offence, (in this instance, jambites), so as to put them in the position, they most likely would have occupied had the offense not occurred.
To make restitution is to acknowledge an error, and without the acknowledgement of this very error, the examination organisation implies that the candidates had been treated in a manner that befits them.
In other words, even if JAMB puts in measures that will ensure better examination in the future, nothing can be demanded on legal and moral grounds, and the corrective moves of the examination body are only a gratuitous one.
I am not in any more interested in knowing the part of the world in which what happened during the recent JAMB examination does not happen, than I am in ensuring that the government lives up to its responsibilities.
It is not enough to argue that since the CBT was recently introduced, the hitches experienced by the candidates during the examinations are understandable. It should be noted that these candidates did everything that was expected of them. Some toiled to save enough money for the JAMB form.
Some had to travel to states they had never been before in order to actualise their dreams of furthering their education beyond secondary school.
Let me illustrate my point: If the government, through any of its agencies, had denied a citizen of opportunities the citizen had a right not to be deprived, then the government is obligated to return the citizen to the position he or she would have occupied had the government not interfered. This is democracy for crying out loud!
Suppose a candidate, as a result of inefficacy of the JAMB computer based test, and for no fault of his, is deprived of writing POST-UME and we determine retroactively that the candidates has a right to the latter.
Then the government has an obligation to return the opportunity of writing this test to the candidate or provide him with something else of equal value to the JAMB result.
My position is based on the idea that restitution is a basic moral principle that creates obligation that are just as strong as the obligation to maximise, say, wealth and distribute it fairly.
The Federal Government should liaise with appropriate bodies and stakeholders so as to influence the cut-off mark for POST-UME. This will enable these candidates to still stake their claims for admission into higher institutions.
These institutions stand to lose nothing. Moreover, the lower the cut-off marks, the higher the number of students to apply for the POST-UME which translates into more money for the schools.
There are, of course, candidates whose problems were such they could not answer enough questions to make whatever the influenced cut-off would look like. But reducing the cut-off mark would more than make up for their resentment. The important lesson is that the government, as a responsible one, has acknowledged its error and made up for it.
If the government fails to act, then the private high institutions in the country which keeps swelling by the day would bounce. They are in the business to take advantage of situations like this, and it behoves on the government to do the right thing.
Because if, as I said, nothing is done, these institutions, without minding to set cut-off marks, would conveniently invite ‘candidates that sat for the 2015 JAMB examination,’ convinced that under normal circumstances, most of the candidates would excel.
And as Igbos would say; Ala adighi nma bu uru ndi nze — a troubled land is to the advantage of the elite. As such, those with the financial wherewithal would keep their hope of higher education alive, while those from poor background, who are in the majority, continue to rue their fate.
Moreover, JAMB should carry out a thorough investigation towards ensuring that centres where candidates experienced difficulties with the computers are not considered for future examinations. Only centres with adequate computer facilities should be licensed for the CBT.
The body should also provide a hotline or social media link where candidates can update them on their experience during the exams for proper actions.
• Ezeugwu is an unemployed graduate. email@example.com 08035014819.