The just concluded 2023 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), a computer-based standardised examination into tertiary institutions by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has left many impressions.
While many candidates and parents were displeased following technical hitches experienced during the exercise, JAMB has adjudged the exam as one of the best in the history of conducting UTME following introduction of new innovations, which according to the board recorded low numbers of malpractice.
The board said 1,586,765 candidates registered for the 2023 UTME.
The conduct of the UTME started with the mock exams, which was aimed at providing the board with the opportunity to assess innovations that would be used for the main examination as well as allow candidates to have hands-on experiences on the CBT environment.
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Before the mock exercise, the board had, in a statement, disclosed that it would be introducing some new measures that had never been used before and would want to use the opportunity of the mock exercise to assess their functionality.
“Despite the fact that the innovations have been tested and certified, yet it is not unlikely that some hiccups might spring up when the new technology is deployed live and nationwide. We therefore solicit your support and understanding as we promptly address any unforeseen circumstances. Hardly can there be growth without audacity and courage,’ the board said.
During the exercise, which was conducted on 30th March, 2023, in 725 centres across the nation, a lot of hitches were experienced in many centres and as a result over 84,000 candidates out of the 176,408 registered candidates could not write the examination and thus lead to the board rescheduling them for a later date.
The examination was marred with challenges of the network, which eventually distorted the time and venue, thereby causing delay for many candidates in some centres.
A candidate, Mary Samson, whose examination was slated for 9 00am said she was not able to write by that time because the first batch, which was for 7.00am, was yet to write at about 10.00am when she spoke to our reporter.
She said the officials at the Digital Bridge, which is her center, later asked them to go to Maitama, saying they could not accommodate all of them.
A parent, who does not want to be mentioned, expressed her disappointment with the process.
She said: “I brought my daughter to write JAMB Mock and her centre is at Digital Bridge Utako. We are there as early as 7.30 and she was supposed to go in by 9.00am , the first badge did not even go in by 7.00am so by 9.30 they asked us to go to a Sascon International School, Maitama and the first badge in the school are just entering about pass 11.00 am and nobody is saying anything.”
She said the exam was postponed before, expecting that things would have been put in place.
“Today, we are still having hitches and they told us that it is a network problem and candidates were everywhere as the place is so rowdy,” she added.
She further said: “The centre took part of the first batch and part of the second batch, I don’t understand how long it will take for us to get to write and considering that we are fasting since they cannot keep to time.”
Meanwhile, officials of the Civil Defence Corps in the school in order to persuade parents and candidates said it is a general problem, while JAMB officials at the centre have refused to say anything.
One of the major incidents at the Mock-UTME is that of Covenant University, Ota, OgunState, where some hijab-wearing candidates were prevented from entering the institution to take the Mock-UTME.
Though, JAMB in a swift reaction called the attention of the university to the development, and the varsity vehemently denied authorising its security personnel to prevent any genuine candidates from entering the institution.
However, the Head Public Affairs and Protocol of JAMB, Dr Fabian Benjamin in a statement confirmed that the exercise witnessed some hitches in a few centres with some candidates unable to sit the examination.
The board apologised to all candidates for any inconvenience they might have experienced on account of this, saying, this is part of a development process aimed at enhancing the board’s efforts at improving the quality, security and sanctity of its services and as well as using same to herald the next phase of its transformational agenda.
The exercise also gave the board the rare opportunity of fine-tuning this process for better results, he added.
Later the board rescheduled the mock examination for other 84,000 candidates who were unable to write during the exercise for 18th April, 2023, which later went through without hitches.
The main UTME commenced on Tuesday, 25th April, to 3rd May, 2023 after JAMB said everything is in place for a successful examination.
The board maintained that banned items such as flash drives, smart watches, calculators, recorders, mobile phones, spy reading glasses, jewelries, among others were not to be taken to exam halls.
The main examination did not go hitch free as well after JAMB said they had taken care of the challenge during the MOCK exercise.
A parent who does not want to be mentioned, during the exercise had told Daily Trust that his children could not write the exam at a centre in the Wuye area of Abuja.
According to him, the school said the JAMB Server was down and asked the candidates to go home and that JAMB will get back to them.
“We are asked to go home and keep checking on JAMB website for any information and we cannot see any information on the websites relating to us,” he said
Another parent, Mrs. Buhari said her daughter was supposed to write for the second batch on her scheduled date but the centre said they will only take 100 candidates first and others later.
“So we left to seat outside and by the time we came back to check, they said the second batch are already in and that my daughter cannot be captured because she missed the second batch and they advised we go to JAMB office while others were rescheduled for the next day,” she said
Other challenges experienced by candidates were about some elite schools hoarding the network SIM cards of UTME candidates in their schools, denying them access to their email addresses, their profile codes and, as such depriving them of the opportunity of receiving vital information from the board.
JAMB regretted that some of the candidates after missing their examination placed the blame on the board whereas much of the information that the candidates needed had been sent to these SIMs which were being held by their schools.
However, JAMB later announced that no registered candidates would miss the examination and that they would reschedule all candidates who missed the examination.
The rescheduled examination, which was later conducted on 6th May had 80,000 candidates who were verified at their centres but could not sit the examination, those who could not be biometrically verified, those with mismatched data, among others, took the exam.
Meanwhile, results of the UTME have been released and candidates are still checking.
Reacting to the general conduct of the UTME, while speaking to Journalists, the Registrar of JAMB, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede said that the level of examination malpractices, particularly impersonation, has reduced drastically following measures put in place by the Board.
“The level of malpractice has reduced drastically. I am impressed that throughout the country, it has become very minimal. In fact, it is now below the international standard in terms of the percentage. We have better devices to determine what is happening in centres and the system won’t allow it,” he said
Also, the Head of Public Affairs and Protocol of the Board, Dr Fabian Benjamin, during a monitoring exercise alongside Professor Oloyede and others, said: “This is the best exam we have had over a period of time, but I know many will like to contest that because of what happened on Tuesday. I know if you have been in the system and following our exams, you will know that the first day is always turbulent, as we progress we stabilise.”
Also, Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu expressed satisfaction over the conduct of the exam, which he described as a smooth exercise after monitoring the rescheduled examinations on Saturday.
“I am very happy with what I have seen. The (temporary) holding room (for candidates) and the arrangement in which they are taking the examination, I think everything is in order.
Perhaps they should have a class for the holding room, I think that is the only improvement they will make here,” Adamu said.