Students groan as logistics, technology mar CBT exam | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Students groan as logistics, technology mar CBT exam

Posted: May 20, 2015 at 2:57 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Seyi Taiwo-Oguntuase  –  Reporter, Lagos 


As the Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) kicked off the maiden all Computer Based Test (CBT) Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) on Tuesday March 10, the anticipated successes were however blurred in some states by poor network.

The examination in which over 1.4 million candidates were enrolled is expected to come to an end next weekend- March 21, a week to the commencement of the general elections.

However, the conduct of the maiden CBT examination administered strictly without the options of the Paper-Pencil Test (PPT) or the Dual-Based Test (DBT) has turned out a sad tale for many candidates seeking admissions into the nation’s tertiary institutions.

Field report shows that a good percentage of the candidates who wrote the CBT examination expressed disappointment at the board for the shoddy logistics and deployment of technology.

Such challenges ranged from malfunctioning alternative sources of electricity, intermittent shut down of computer system and poor servers that slowed down the conduct of the examination for several minutes behind the scheduled time for commencement. This forced candidates to wait for hours in the scorching sun.

When Daily Independent visited one of the accredited examination centres in Lagos State, Westmidland Communication (ETC Centre) at Oba Akran in Ikeja, majority of the candidates lamented that the test, which ought to have started by 6am did not commence until 10a.m.

Other challenges of technology candidates experienced at the centre included the computers systems rebooting without prompting and occasional log-offs that consumed substantial part of the time allotted for the exercise. Expectedly, this made the candidates tensed as they frantically re-logged in to attempt the questions therein.

Some of the candidates in an interview with Daily Independent added that apart from the malfunctioning computer systems provided by the centres, officials turned down pleas for added time to make up for the lost time.

These, the candidates lamented, resulted in many people not being able to attempt all the questions, having lost considerable time to system errors.

Ayinde Zainab, one of the candidates, told our correspondent: “Though the examination was okay, but most of us were unable to finish the test because the systems gave us a lot of problem and there were times the electricity generating set went off”.

Another candidate, Damilare Emmanuel commended the board for giving candidates and Nigerians enough notice that it was doing away with PPT for candidates to prepare for the examination. He however blamed the inability of officials to take initiatives by giving added time for delay caused by the malfunctioning systems .

He lamented that the system’s rebooting that slowed down work created lot of tension, which disorganised many candidates. Continuing, he said there was tension when the candidates became conscious of the allotted time for the subjects and having to contend with the malfunctioning computer systems.

“Though I prefer the new format to other options, but the challenge here is that the systems are just tripping-off and also there is tension in the CBT because everyone is conscious of the timing, compared to the PPT where candidates are notified intermittently of time spent and time left to stop writing.

“Truly the CBT type does not give room for examination malpractice and it gives you the confidence that what you put in is the same fold that you will receive at the end of the examination,” he added.

To Ann Mordi, another candidate, “the examination was interesting and unimaginably simple, because all I studied hard for came out in the examination.”

She contended that her only challenge was the malfunctioning computer systems provided at the centre.

“I am not the only one, it happened to majority of us. I had to wait for another person to finish before I was able write my examination, because the computer that was assigned to me was not working very well.

“It was just shutting down and I could not do anything on the system and the time was not in my favour,” she stressed.

She expressed appreciation at the board’s resolve to keep abreast of developments around the world and deliberately move to put an end to examination malpractices by introducing the CBT mode. She urged JAMB to further to fix all logistic and technological challenges in future examinations.

Drawing a comparison with PPT, Mordi submitted that but for the malfunctioning computer systems, lateness in the commencement of examinations in some centres and other minor hitches, she adjudged the CBT mode the most suitable.

Speaking with Daily Independent in an emotion laden voice, while lamenting her inability to complete the examination following malfunctioning of the computer system assigned to her, Rafiat Folarin lamented, “I was not happy with the exams because the system really gave me tough time and I complained but to no avail, another system was brought for me and still the same, the system yet failed to load.

“The only saving grace for me was that a lady finished her work and I was able to use the system, but later on I was logged out though I still have like two hours according to the time on the system but I was log out,” she lamented.

However, it was a different stroke for Olajumoke Bamigboye who enthused: “The exam is okay by me because I was lucky my system does not give me much problem and I was able to finish before the computer logged me out”.

Also with the same stroke of luck, Ganiyat Abisola also said the examination was good for her, though she was able to finish and submit before the system logged out contended that she also suffered the initial problem of computer malfunctioning.

She added with enthusiasm: “I was lucky I finished my work, but majority of others could not finish their exams due to the system failure”.

Stating her preference for the PPT, Abisola argued that while the CBT places the responsibility of writing the examination and time checking on the candidates, the later gives room for additional concentration as the time check is duty rested on the officials to announce and monitor on behalf of tensed candidates.

However, efforts by Daily Independent to seek official explanations from JAMB official at the centre did not yield desired fruit, as she vehemently insisted that she was not authorised to talk to the press.

The story was not different at the Chams City, Maryland, where the deluge of complaints by candidates also centred on malfunctioning server that resulted in the late commencement of the test.

Speaking with Daily Independent, Vivian Okafor, a candidate, said though it took some time before the server could come up, added that thereafter every other arrangement went on smoothly without any incidence of malpractices associated with the other examination modes.

At the Pinnacle Royal College, Abeokuta, Ogun State, where the examination was monitored also monitored, candidates had it good after one delay.

An official of JAMB at the Chams City examination centre in the city, who preferred anonymity, acknowledged the late commencement of the test. It kicked five hours behind schedule at the centre, owing to logistic problem. She explained that the centre made up for the delay by taking the examination in two batches.

However, another dimension to the examination is that it has brought to question the essence of computer education in schools when students do not have access to practical classes.

Blaming many of the candidates for arriving late at the centre to commence the biometric check, the Chams officials at the Abeokuta centre also noted the fact that many of the canbdidates were  not familiar with the use of computer.

A candidate at the Maryland centre, Franca Oliseh, who confessed she was not proficient in the use of computer system, added that she was able to do the little she could before submitting.

Also, Group Marketing Manager for Chams City, Mrs. Dayo Adeyinka admitted that being the first day of the examination, there were few challenges, including delay in setting up the system and problem with the JAMB server. She said the centre had the capacity to host 1,500 candidates daily and that the candidates were divided into two sessions of 750 each.

The story was not different at the Federal College of Technical, Akoka, which also experience power and server challenges. However, with a compounded situation at Universal White Hall College, Fagba, Iju Road, screening of candidates continued till in the evening around 8.30pm.

On the other hand, while visiting Yaba College of Technology, (YABATECH) and University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, our correspondent noted that the test was conducted smoothly at both centres. There were no cases of system shut down or slow server. At both centres also, candidates were split nto batches and did not encounter challenges peculiar to other centres.