The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board [JAMB] recently announced the blacklisting of 72 erring Computer-Based Test [CBT] centres spread across 18 states of the federation that participated in the 2017 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME). JAMB’s Registrar Prof. Is-haq Oloyede said blacklisting of the CBT Centres was due to their involvement in organised examination malpractice during the UTME while others were blacklisted for a technical deficiency.
Oloyede said the decision to sanction them was taken at an enlarged meeting with external examiners and other stakeholders. While 48 centres were delisted for gross examination malpractice and were barred from participating in the conduct of future UTMEs, 24 others were suspended for one year due to technical deficiencies and shall not participate in the conduct of the 2018 UTME. Abia State topped the list with 13 suspended CBT centres, followed by Rivers State with 10. JAMB’s Registrar also announced the cancellation of results for 59,598 candidates. He said 62,140 candidates would re-write the 2017 UTME for various reasons. While 57,646 candidates would re-sit UTME for writing the examination at fraudulent centres, 683 candidates had biometric issues. 3,811 candidates, Oloyede said, did late registration. JAMB has already fixed Saturday, July 1, 2017, for the UTME re-sit test.
It would be recalled that 1.7million candidates sat for this year’s UTME that took place at 642 CBT centres across the country. The UTME which lasted for one week, May 13-20, had 7,000 invigilators and monitors. Widespread allegations of examination malpractice and ill-equipped CBT centres trailed the conduct of the 2017 UTME. The challenges that marred the conduct of the examination created difficulties for some candidates, their parents and the examination body.
We commend JAMB for investigating all the allegations and challenges that threatened the conduct of the 2017 UTME. JAMB’s decision to sanction erring CBT centres is a highly welcome development. For the first time in its four decades of existence, the examination body is taking punitive measures against erring examination centres. Nonetheless, we encourage JAMB not to stop at blacklisting offending centres. It should also prosecute proprietors of affected centres to serve as a deterrent to others. This will help to further guarantee the integrity of UTME in this country. With these measures taken by the Oloyede-led JAMB, the use of CBT mode for UTME has high prospects. It appears to be the best option because it is technology driven. In recent years JAMB insisted on the use of CBT as the most preferred option over the Paper-Pencil Test (PPT) mode.
In order to forestall a recurrence of the 2017 experience in the conduct of future UTMEs, we advise JAMB to do thorough checks on prospective CBT centres before engaging them in the conduct of the examination. Media investigations revealed that many CBT centres did not have computer machines of their own but hired them from dealers in second-hand desktops, which explains the difficulties experienced by candidates during the 2017 UTME. Many such desktops were either not starting at all or were shutting down intermittently.
JAMB must take all precautionary measures to ensure that all the technical challenges experienced in the conduct of the 2017 UTME are not repeated next year. Technology needs to be deployed to prevent double registration by candidates. In the 2017 UTME for instance, more than 300,000 of the candidates who sat for the examination engaged in double or multiple registrations. Where it was established by JAMB that a candidate sat for the examination more than once, such a candidate was automatically disqualified. A total of 666 cases were reported in this regard.
Technology must also be used to tackle the growing sophistication among UTME candidates who engage in examination malpractice. In the case of attitudinal challenges such as conspiracy, especially where such involves JAMB officials who have over time become so hooked to corrupt practices, we advise Prof Oloyede to get rid of such corrupt officials without delay.