More troubles for students as JAMB’s biometric verification falters
No fewer than 80,000 candidates, on Saturday, took the rescheduled Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) across the country.
Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB)’s Head of Public Affairs and Protocol, Dr. Fabian Benjamin, said this while monitoring the exercise in Abuja. Benjamin said the 80,000 candidates could not sit the 2023 UTME within their scheduled time, owing to no fault of theirs and had to sit the rescheduled UTME across the country.
He said candidates affected include those, who were verified at their centres, but could not sit the examination, those who could not be biometrically verified and those with mismatched data, among others.
Biometric verification is a crucial aspect of Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examination process. It is designed to prevent impersonation and ensure that only registered candidates sit the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME). The system uses fingerprints to identify candidates and it is expected to improve the integrity of the exams and ensure that only genuine candidates take the exams.
Biometric verification failures during the exams have caused frustration and inconveniences for candidates.
These failures occur when candidates’ biometric information cannot be properly verified by the system. This can be due to a number of reasons, such as poor quality fingerprints, incorrect information input during registration, or technical issues with the verification system.
When this happens, affected students are usually asked to wait and try again, or they may be allowed to take the exam after providing alternative forms of identification. In some cases, however, the system may not be able to verify their identity at all, which can result in the student being unable to take the exam.
This can be a stressful and frustrating experience for the affected students, as they may have prepared extensively for the exam only to be hindered by a technical issue.
Again, despite the introduction of biometric verification in JAMB exams, cases of impersonation and exam malpractices have continued to plague the system. This has raised questions about the efficacy of biometric verification as a means of authentication.
One major challenge of biometric verification in JAMB exams is the failure of the system to recognise candidates due to technical glitches. In some cases, candidates have been unable to verify their fingerprints, despite being genuine candidates. This has led to them being denied entrance into exam halls, causing frustration and disappointment.
Furthermore, cases of collusion and fraud by exam officials have been reported, where they compromise the process by registering unqualified candidates, who then use false biometric details to sit for the exams. This highlights the need for strict monitoring and enforcement of biometric verification processes to maintain the integrity of the exams.
Additionally, there have been cases of candidates intentionally mutilating their fingers to avoid biometric verification. Such candidates alter their fingerprints through amputation or wearing artificial fingerprints to avoid detection by the system. This raises questions about the ability of biometric verification to detect and prevent exam malpractices, especially with the sophistication of technology used by fraudulent individuals.
Also, there have been cases of hackers compromising biometric data, which leads to the system being unable to recognise genuine candidates. Such attacks can occur when the system is not adequately secured against cyber threats, highlighting the need for robust security measures to protect the system and maintain its integrity.
Experts have stressed urgent need by JAMB to address these issues and ensure that biometric verification works effectively, to enable students take the exam without any hindrance.
According to an Information Technology (IT) expert, Emmanuel Okoye, there is need for JAMB to invest in more advanced and reliable biometric verification technology for admission and examination processes.
“This could include fingerprint scanners with higher accuracy rates or alternative biometric verification methods such as facial recognition,” he said.
Okoye also stressed the need for the board to increase awareness and sensitisation on the importance of biometric verification to students and parents.
“JAMB can ensure that examination officials and candidates are adequately trained on how to use the biometric verification system properly. This should include educating candidates on the importance of clean hands and fingers, and ensuring that the scanners are properly maintained,” he added.
He advised the examination body to introduce redundancy measures to ensure that candidates, who experience biometric verification failures, are not entirely locked out of the examination. This could include backup devices or alternative methods of identification, such as ID cards or other official documents.
Similarly, an educationist, Maxwell Ujah, said JAMB should improve its communication with candidates before the examination.
“It can provide clear and concise information on the biometric verification process and what candidates need to do to ensure successful verification
“They can ensure that there is a swift response to verification failures during the examination. Candidates should be attended to promptly by officials and given alternative options. This will enable them to continue with the examination without undue stress or delay.
“JAMB can improve its authentication process by integrating a two-factor authentication (2FA) process, which will ensure a more robust and secure system. This will require candidates to provide an additional form of identification such as facial recognition, iris scan, or retinal scan to improve the accuracy of the biometric verification system.
According to him, the application of these measures will go a long way in addressing the problem of biometric verification failures during examinations, create a seamless examination experience for candidates and boost the confidence of all stakeholders in the JAMB system.
Speaking further, a Computer Based Test (CBT), expert, Aghaeze Ben, lamented that biometric verification failures are adversely affecting candidates.
“lf a candidate’s biometric verification fails, they may not be allowed to enter the exam venue or take the exam. This could be due to a mismatch in their biometric data or technical issues with the biometric system. Candidates, who fail the biometric verification, may be disqualified from taking the exam, leading to a waste of time, effort, and money.
“The failure of biometric verification can cause anxiety and frustration among candidates on the exam day, leading to a lack of focus and poor performance in the exam.”
He added that delay in the exam process as a result of verification failure on the exam day, may cause a delay in the exam process, leading to a longer wait time for candidates.
According to him, it will also lead to additional expenses as candidates, who failed the biometric verification may have to spend more money on rescheduled exam or pay for additional verification processes.
He described JAMB biometric verification failure as a serious setback for candidates as it affects their confidence, finances and exam performance, which can affect their tertiary education prospects.
No doubt, the use of biometric verification in JAMB exams is a step in the right direction in preventing exam malpractices and maintaining the integrity of the examinations. However, the system is not guaranteed, and there are still challenges that need to be addressed for the system to work effectively. Technical glitches, discrepancies in biometric data, fraud, and cyberattacks are some of the challenges that need to be addressed.
The board needs to invest in robust security measures, properly validate candidate data during registration, and monitor exam officials to ensure they do not compromise the process. This will go a long way in ensuring that only genuine candidates sit for the exams and maintain the integrity of the exams.