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2018 UTME: Stakeholders hail improved conduct

Stakeholders, including candidates have continued to savour the smooth conduct of this year’s Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), commending the examination body for conducting a near-perfect examination

Stakeholders, including candidates have continued to savour the smooth conduct of this year’s Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), commending the examination body for conducting a near-perfect examination

This year’s Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) for candidates seeking admissions to higher institutions has come and gone, but stakeholders including candidates are still savouring the smooth conduct of the examination.

With the successful conduct of the examination for the visually-impaired candidates yesterday, Monday, March 19, JAMB has officially drawn the curtain over this year’s examination, at least, for candidates who are based in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, following the significant reduction in the cases of technical and logistical hitches recorded during the examination, and without the usual controversies, which had hitherto characterised the previous editions over such matters as poor centre allocation, overcrowding candidates in examination halls, as well as the nagging issue of high-level examination malpractices among candidates, invigilators and centre-owners, stakeholders in the nation’s education sector have praised JAMB for a job well done.

Giving the commendation are the former Minister of Education, Prof. Chinwe Obaji; the immediate past Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof. Rahamon Bello; President of the National Parents Teachers Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), Alhaji Haliru Danjuma, and the candidates.

According to them, if JAMB could sustain this year’s tempo in the next edition of the examination the country, the age-long lost glory of the examination and JAMB, in particular, might soon be reclaimed.
The stakeholders, however, hailed the new leadership of the examination body, led by the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, for the several innovations introduced into the conduct of the examination, saying such initiatives including the adoption of the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) in examination venues, banning of malpractices-enhancing tools such as wristwatches, pens, eyeglasses, Bluetooth devices, hard discs, calculators, among others, have helped in no small measure to restore sanity in the system, and reduced to the barest minimum cases of examination malpractice.

To ensure a hitch-free examination, New Telegraph learnt that shortly after the conduct of the 2017 edition of the examination, JAMB had commenced in earnest the processes to usher in the 2018 edition through various strategies.
Speaking on the strategies, JAMB noted that the preparation for this year’s examination started with the review of the activities surrounding the 2017 UTME conduct, including the careful study of the reports of various stakeholders deployed to monitor the examination, such as serving and former vice-chancellors of universities, rectors, provosts, members of civil societies and labour unions, students’ leaders and media practitioners.

It was, therefore, not surprising when in November, 2017, JAMB rolled out its programmes and activities for the 2018 UTME, announcing the dates for the examination even before registration commenced.
At the end of the registration exercise in February, JAMB had announced that a total number of 1,662,762 candidates registered for the 2018 UTME, and that about 620 Computer-Based Test centres had been designated as the examination centres across the country.

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According to JAMB, the number of candidates registered for the 2018 UTME is a bit lower than the figure registered the previous year, when a total of 1,718,425 candidates were registered.
But the JAMB Registrar further explained that the decrease of 3.2 per cent in this year’s enrolment was largely as a result of measures put in place by the Board to checkmate multiple registrations and other unwholesome practices by candidates.

Out of the figure, about 326 candidates were visually-impaired, while some prison inmates in Lagos, Benin and Kaduna also took part in the examination.
However, when the examination commenced on Friday, March 9, there were minor hitches in some of the centres including the Federal College of Education (Technical), Bichi, Kano, where candidates experienced difficulties over abrupt technical faults developed by the computer systems.

Also, at a centre in Ejioku, along Iwo Road in Ibadan, trouble was averted when candidates were stranded for hours due to technical problems developed by the systems at the centre.
In fact, many of the parents and the candidates were at the point of staging protests, but for the prompt intervention of JAMB that relocated the candidates to other centres.

In some of the centres where hitches were recorded, New Telegraph gathered that the challenges were in the areas of biometric capturing devices, power outages, absence of medical team to offer first aid treatment, and poor computer knowledge of some candidates.

These challenges in few centres led to inability of some candidates to sit for the examination on their initial scheduled dates and there was attendant delay in some cases.
Meanwhile, having closely monitored the exercise across the many states of the federation, some of the stakeholders, who spoke with New Telegraph, said with the successful conduct of this year’s UTME without the usual difficulties hitherto known with the examination, there are strong indications that the common challenges facing admission processes into tertiary institutions in the country may soon be over.

In her remarks, Prof. Obaji, who recalled that she visited about five states and more than 20 CBT centres to monitor the examination, said she was impressed with JAMB’s response to some of the identified hitches, and that she could vouch for the integrity of the examination and the board.

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Obaji, who was responsible for the introduction of the post-UTME test when she held sway as the Minister of Education, noted that JAMB was already doing away with all the errors of the past, saying: “But it still not yet uhuru.”
She said: “In terms of integrity, I can award JAMB perfect score. And one thing that I was proud of is that candidates did not have any business to leave examination centres late. Unlike in the past when innocent children were posted far away from their cities of residence, and they would have to battle challenges of accommodation, transportation and other logistics, I think to a large extent, JAMB has dealt with that very well this year.

“We just have to give it to the new leadership of JAMB. The fact that everything is done in the open is the secret of the success being recorded. I still hope and very fervently too, that we can improve on this and make our education sector better than what it is at the moment. The minor hitches we have witnessed are simply to confirm that we are human beings and that perfection belongs to God.”

Similarly, Prof. Bello, who commended JAMB for organising a seemingly hitch-free examination, however, noted that though some may not be too comfortable with the CBT mode for the examination, the improvement recorded by the examination body might have addressed some of the challenges characterising the examination in the past.

Bello said: “I am of the opinion that this year JAMB has done pretty well. Some of us may have some kind of reservations for the CBT test mode, but I think to a large extent, the examination body has tried to eliminate some of the factors that used to becloud its result with doubt. It is a good experience and I personally think we can improve on this.”

Also, the President of NAPTAN, Danjuma said reports from some of the chairmen of the association in some states, including Katsina, Yobe, Kaduna, among others, had confirmed the success recorded by JAMB in this year’s examination.
According to Danjuma, the fact that there were hardly anywhere candidates, or other stakeholders staged any form of protest as it was common in the previous years, shows the level of improvement recorded by the examination body.

He said: “I have received reports from some of our members and particularly the chairmen in some states who have confirmed the smooth conduct of the examinations. They added that the report about the results they have also received have so far conformed with the people’s expectations based on candidates’ performance either in their schools or in other external examinations.

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