Technical hitches, poor network, epileptic power mar 2021 UTME
This year’s Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) was, at the weekend, marred by technical hitches and operational challenges, preventing many candidates from taking the test at the scheduled time.
In some of the centres, the exercise was cancelled due to problems with power supply and connectivity.
Some 1.5 million applicants registered for the 2021 test, which began nationwide in over 900 Computer-based Testing (CBT) centres. The figure is lower than that of 2019 and 2020 that posted about two million candidates respectively.
This year’s tally is attributable to candidates’ inability to complete registration due to the challenges of obtaining the National Identification Number (NIN).
Although the examination was to hold in two sessions – 9.00 a.m. and 11.00 a.m. at most of the centres, it, however, did not take off until late in the evening.
In a centre in Badagry, candidates and parents left the premises around 7:00 p.m. when the test was eventually cancelled.
The situation was the same in a good number of others, technical hitches, poor connectivity and power cuts persisted.
For those that did not cancel the test outright, the exercise was delayed for several hours.
Candidates had trooped to the centres as early as 6:00 a.m. for the compulsory biometric verification, only for the glitches to delay the entire assessment.
In some venues around Ojota, Maryland and Ogba areas of Lagos, participants, who were scheduled for 9:00 a.m., could not start the examination until about 4:00 p.m. due to technical issues.
A candidate at a CBT centre on Ikorodu Road, Lagos that identified himself as Segun Ogungbemi, said he arrived at the venue as early as 7:00 am, noting that biometric verification did not start until 2:00 pm.
At another centre, Wisdom House, in the Ogba area of the nation’s economic capital, candidates for the 9:00 a.m. slot that should ordinarily round off by 11:00 a.m. could not finish until 6:00 p.m. owing to hiccups.
Similar scenario played at Value Place College CBT centre, Pipeline, in Idimu axis where some candidates for the 9:00 a.m. session had issues with biometrics and screening.
Some of them, who spoke on the development, lamented epileptic power supply and how it disrupted the smooth conduct of the examination.
Also, they said connectivity and network slowed down the process, causing panic and frustration.
The situation has since generated reactions from anxious parents, who expressed frustration and disappointment, urging better management of the exercise.
A parent, Agnes Samson, whose daughter was scheduled for the first session at Homily School in Ikeja, said they were still waiting as at 4:00 pm when The Guardian arrived at the centre due to what she described as “system failure.”
Another parent, Joshua Henshaw, said the exercise, which was to begin at 7:00 a.m., did not start until 2:00 p.m. due to system error, quoting the school management.
He urged the JAMB Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, to ensure that only competent, God-fearing and unbiased supervisors are deployed to CBT centres for inspection prior to accreditation in the interest of candidates.
To Mrs. Yemisi Odu, the situation at her child’s CBT centre amounted to a betrayal of trust from the examination body.
She insisted that the centre did not have the capacity to be a JAMB-certified examinations centre and should be disqualified.
On his part, Sunday Udom said the conduct of the test was discouraging, as issues of power supply and connectivity subsisted.
When contacted, the board’s head of media, Fabian Benjamin, expressed satisfaction at the conduct of the examinations so far.
He added that those affected by cancellations would be rescheduled by JAMB to sit for the examinations at a date to be announced soon.
Benjamin said the board was not unmindful of the hitches in some centres across the federation, pledging that the issues would be resolved in due course.
“Being the first day of the examination, we are bound to witness few teething problems. But all I can say is that we have the mechanism to put all that under control. There is no need to panic, as we are working round the clock to ensure that every Nigerian child is given an equal opportunity,’’ Benjamin added.
BESIDES, the examination body has delisted 25 CBT centres across the country for poor performance during the weekend’s test.
Benjamin said the delisted centres failed during the conduct of the 2021 UTME.
He directed candidates posted to any of the affected centres to await further directive by checking their profile for a new date.
The delisted centres are in 11 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), with six in Lagos, four in Kaduna; three in Edo; two each in Ondo, Plateau and FCT; while Oyo, Osun, Delta, Benue, Imo, Nasarawa have one each.
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