The Punch editorial of Tuesday March 22nd, 2016, on the above subject matter had hurriedly concluded that the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) lacks the capacity to conduct the much globally celebrated Computer Based Test (CBT). The position and contribution of the media on any policy is critical and hence they are always seen as stakeholders to the development of all sectors of the nation. The challenge of national development is a collective concern and that is why we as a Board consistently appreciate constant constructive criticisms from all. However, it’s of extreme concern to us that the media which is supposed to be the bastion of history of recent, have chosen to ignore the past antecedents as it concerns the conduct of public examination.
It is very saddening for Punch to make a conclusion on a policy that is waxing strong to the admiration of all, without first weighing comparatively the levels of challenges associated with the two systems viz a viz the Paper and Pencil Test and electronic test conducted by the Board. The Board is not ashamed to admit that this year’s exercise witnessed some teething challenges and it is working round the clock to address some of these complaints by candidates. These challenges are common with all new policies globally. History has it that most newly introduced policies go through such turbulent times but gradually it finds its foundation and consolidates. There are many of such policies and innovations in Nigeria. Our electoral system and the need to have credible polls and card readers, the Treasury Single Account(TSA) among others. We may not have the luxury of time to dwell on this and other sundry issues. To imagine that the Board will be asked to revert to a system that took education and public examination backward and disarray was unthinkable, retrogressive and unfortunate.
The impression of the Paper and Pencil Test (PPT) to some Nigerians is as if the conduct of the Paper and Pencil Test (PPT) was glorious and no alternative. The era of Pencil and Paper Test (PPT) was the darkest moment for the Board. It was an era that the Board was almost becoming hapless due to the activities of perpetrators of examination irregularities. The height of it was the introduction of the Post UTME by the Universities because of the doubts over our results as a result of lack of correlation between the performance of candidates in the tertiary institutions and the results presented Today with the introduction of the Computer Based Test (CBT) and its conduct over the years, no single complaint of mark correlation, malpractice has been reduced and institutions over this period have placed so much premium of the results with some even awarding scholarship to candidates because they have seen the prospects of the policy..
The Board conducted the 2016 exercise in about 521 centres globally. Let us assume without conceding that we have challenges in about 100 centres. Could this be said that the Board lacks capacity? Should we not be calling for a review of the exercise to see how these presumed challenges could be addressed?
It is strange if Punch does not know that most Universities conduct their first and second year examinations using the Computer Based Test (CBT) mode as a result of the wakeup call by the introduction of the policy. The Post UTME by the Universities are conducted using the CBT. The norm globally when policies of this nature runs into trouble waters was for the public after seeing the beauty of such policy to first place their minds on the good the policy was intended to bring out and collectively work to see how the institution can get it right. But it appears ours is just to pull the institution down with the policy. What prospect does the former system hold for education and public examination in Nigeria and when do we think we will be prepared for this regime?
For purposes of clarity, let me again say that we do not use internet for our examination so the issue of internet failure was not an issue. Agreed, there were instances of systems hanging which are not internet related issues. Some of the listed challenges by Punch which includes computer without mouse or with keyboard problem are very strange to me. However, if they do exist, they are issues that can be addressed. The Board as a responsive organization will not shy away from admitting if there are abnormalities. The allegation of multiple results was as a result of programming challenge with only those candidates that wrote the examination on the 27th of February, 2016. This, the Board quickly corrected and ensured that the candidates had their results. A visit to our web page puts to rest the noise about multiple results. However, the continued emphasis on this is a wrong pointer to the operation of related issues in the future.
It appears the media world prefers the Board not correcting the error(s). However, with all the hues and cries over this year’s exercise, the good news is that not a single compliant has been recorded from any candidate over inability to use the computer to write the examination. This fear has been overcome and with the active support of all the components of Nigeria, we will also overcome the little teething technical challeng.
It has always been our problem that when we introduce policies, people always receive it with doubt. When we started online registration, a Paper –not Punch- declared that it was a failed exercise in the making. The biometric capturing was another fight, the online admission letters, e-slip, etc. it has always been so but in all, we have always come out victoriously and today our biometric capturing is a novel for election etc and other countries have shown interest to learn and copy JAMB to better their education lots of their respective countries. Please give us a chance and Computer Based Test (CBT) will also be a story in the form of biometrics etc. The Board also wants to correct the erroneous impression that the Minister calls for a return to PPT. I was at the monitoring and the only concern he had was for those that are not computer literate and the Board has ensured that candidates are rightly guided before and during the examination.