As the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board kicked off the admission exercise for the 2020/2021 academic year for tertiary institutions, Raheem Akingbolu reviews the examination process, which many believe has been smooth all the way, despite all odds
Every year, examination bodies nationwide, including the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), face many challenges, especially in the area of examination malpractices and coping with huge population of applicants.
In the last few years, JAMB under its current Registrar and Chief Executive Officer, Prof. Is’haq Oloyede, has reduced the problem of examination malpractices to the barest minimum through cutting edge innovations and monitoring. Since assumption of office, Oloyede has not minced words for a second on his determination to end examination practices. As a result of this, the board has continued to strengthen its capacity to frustrate the effort of saboteurs.
Though Computer-based Test (CBT) centres were innovatively created to frustrate malpractices, JAMB was quick to strengthen the centres’ capacity when it was discovered that some operators were still serving as saboteurs to the lofty idea. On finding out last year, that some of the operators were tampering with the closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras mounted at their centres, as a way of covering up their crime, the body had wielded the big stick and delisted 133 of such CBT centres for committing various examination malpractices. Between then and now, JAMB has made many promoters of unethical practices within and outside the body, to face sanctions.
As part of the build up to the 2020 edition, the examination umpire had insisted that only candidates with National Identity Number would be registered for the 2020 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME). According to the body’s spokesperson, Fabian Benjamin the essence of the NIN for registration was to curb cases of multiple registration and other forms of malpractices perpetrated in the UTME process. But in response to the yearnings of stakeholders who expressed displeasure over the difficulties faced by applicants as a result of shortage of manpower at the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), JAMB took a detour and suspended the exercise, adding that NIN would now be considered a prerequisite for registration from 2021.
However, while the preparation for the 2020 UTME was going on, the rampaging Coronavirus pandemic rared its ugly head in Nigeria. Rather than suspending the process, it simply sent JAMB management back to the drawing board. At the peak of the global crisis, there were uncertainties in some quarters that some students could miss the examination, but Prof. Oloyede and his team were quick in assuring the affected students and their parents that the crisis would not disrupt the examination.
Meanwhile, before the UTME, JAMB had promised that due to the coronavirus scare, it would provide hand sanitisers and face masks for its workers and candidates. To complement the body’s effort, Oloyede in a recent interview, had admitted that during a visit to CBT centres while the examination was on, he discovered that operators of the centres were on top of the game.
“It had been very helpful to put those measures in place and I appreciate the CBT centres. I went to a CBT centre and I discovered that even as good as our own precautionary measures were, the school proprietress provided better facilities in terms of screening and the layout was very impressive. I understand that many of the CBT centres made separate provisions against the coronavirus. You can trust Nigerians that when it comes to protecting our lives, we don’t joke with that,” he said.
As the coronavirus outbreak spread nationwide, JAMB had responded swiftly to the laid down global rules for safety by pruning down on crowds at the CBT centres. According to Benjamin, the body started with 250 persons at various centres at the beginning of the exercise, but the numbers were later reduced to ensure that candidates were not unnecessarily crowded in a place.
After the examination, JAMB put in place all necessary arrangements to ensure that its services are not only active and available online, but are not disrupted in any way as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oloyede, who made the clarification in a statement, reiterated the body’s determination to ensure that it delivers on its mandate of providing quality service to Nigerians. He said by implication, Nigerians can access all its services from the comfort of their homes as they stay at home to be safe.
“The SERVICOM Unit of the board could be reached round the clock through our ticketing platform to receive complaints and enquiries. The board would promptly attend to it.”
Oloyede therefore called on the public to take full advantage of these channels for fast and efficient service. He affirmed that the board, as a responsive organisation is duty-bound to support the efforts of government in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 by not encouraging or sanctioning needless assemblage of people at its various offices.
With the commencement of the 2020 admission exercise, as announced by JAMB and the revenue generated by the body for the economy, many observers believe that the 2020 process has been a success story all the way.
Reviewing the exercise, a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Chemistry, Ekiti State University, Dr. Mayowa Akeem Abdul-Azeez said the body’s performance in 2020 has been excellent, but tasked the examination body to strengthen its website to make it more accessible for prospective candidates.
“Though there are little hitches here and there, but in the overall, Prof. Oloyede and his team have demonstrated through the 2020 exercise that JAMB is responding well to global trend that is largely driven by technology. While I will appeal to the examination body to upgrade its website, I will also appeal to parents and guardians to encourage their children to deepen their knowledge in ICT ahead of the computer-based tests. “With this year’s achievement despite various challenges, other agency of government should borrow a leaf from JAMB,” Azeez stated.