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2023 UTME: Gains, pains of innovative measures to tackle exam malpractice

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JUST as some candidates, in some cases in outright collusion with the Computer Based Test (CBT) centre operators, continue to device new and sophisticated ways of cheating in examinations, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) also on annual basis evolves proactive and innovative measures to be ahead of the examination fraudsters.

Some of the devious means exploited by candidates to cheat in examinations as identified by JAMB in the past included impersonation, collusion with owners of the examination centres, multiple registrations, use of phones, wristwatches and other gadgets.

While some of these forms of examination malpractice have been tackled with the introduction of biometric verification of candidates before being allowed into examination halls, JAMB has been able to curtail others through banning the items from examination halls.

However, the deployment of new technology and novel measures by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) aimed at checkmating examination malpractices was not without some challenges.

The technical hitches experienced during the conduct of the 2023 UTME, which held between April 25 and May 2, 2023 attracted some criticisms from both the parents and candidates.

A candidate, Josephine Odu, told the Nigerian Tribune at Danata Universal Services CBT, Government Secondary School (GSS) Zone 3, Abuja, that she was rescheduled twice and each time, the notification came  late, making it impossible to sit for the examination.

Odu, who described her experience as frustrating, is among the 80,166 candidates who could not sit the 2023 UTME and have been rescheduled to take the examination on Saturday, May 6, 2023.

About 1.6 million candidates registered to participate in the 2023 UTME in over 700 centres across the country.

Mustapha Ahmed, a civil servant and a parent of a candidate, criticised JAMB for putting the children under unnecessary pressure, saying that his child went on the first day of the examination wasting the whole day and transport fare.

He added that the child did not get “notification message on his rescheduled date on time and therefore could not take the examination up till now.”

Registrar of JAMB, Professor Is-haq Oloyede noted however  that some of the experiences were expected due to human factor and the technology involved, but he  had said preparatory to the conduct of the 2023 UTME that the board had instituted some measures to take care of the challenges.

Oloyede Explained: “One major feature of the new dispensation is that no examination would be allowed to take place after one hour of its scheduled start time because the board has discovered that some of the problems reported at the centres are contrived to delay the commencement of a session in some centres with a view to securing undue advantage for the delayed candidates.

“Consequently, any session that for whatever reason(s), could not take off within one hour of its scheduled time is automatically rescheduled. When such occurs, affected candidates are expected to file out of the examination hall into the waiting hall to wait for the new scheduled time and place, which most likely would be the same place or following day.

“Candidates are expected not to disrupt subsequent sessions but to simply await information on rescheduling. He also blamed parents for constituting a “major intrusion into the examination process. While we appeal to parents to keep off the examination venues, we will not hesitate to sanction the candidates whose parents obstruct the smooth running of the centre.”

Dr Fabian Benjamin, Head of Public Affairs and Protocol, JAMB, corroborated Professor Oloyede that the board had informed Nigerians that it would be using some novel innovative methods in conducting the exercise with the aim of completely arresting incidence of examination infractions.

He affirmed that this had been largely achieved as the exercise recorded the lowest reported cases of infractions.

Nigerian Tribune gathered that some candidates who were rescheduled could not get notifications because their schools held on to their channels of receiving messages such as their SIM cards, e-mail addresses and profile codes.

During monitoring of the UTME exercise in 2022 in Abuja, the registrar of JAMB had apprehended officials of some schools who brought their candidates to sit the examination in a particular CBT centre after allegedly collecting huge sums of money to do bulk registration for them.





Benjamin said that the board had warned the schools repeatedly that its processes are not school-based but individual- based.

He explained that a candidate who is aspiring to take UTME must be ready to do the registration and keep their pin number secret to themselves.

A candidate who sat for the UTME at Global Distance Learning Institute Abuja, Mercy Ebuka, said she was happy with the conduct of the exercise, from the biometric verification to the orderly sitting in the examination hall, noting that it was her first time of sitting for the examination.

According to her, the questions were not too difficult as she always assumes “when people talk about difficulty in passing the UTME.”

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