The 2017 Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examination has come and gone but not without raising a lot of dust. From the registration period to the examination proper, candidates were made to go through harrowing experiences that were not of their own making. Thus, a sizable number of candidates either missed the exams or performed poorly.
Indeed, aware of the problems that JAMB's computer based test (CBT) caused during registration and would still cause afterwards, a human rights lawyer, Mr Francis Moneke, had dragged JAMB to court, seeking to have the problems of candidates ameliorated.
Fides gathered that even from the registration period, candidates had started experiencing man-made problems occasioned by the examination body not putting its house in order.
The registration process took unnecessarily long and candidates were subjected to long queues in the rain and under the sun, waiting to register, despite paying what was considered in many quarters as huge fees.
Expectedly, some of the candidates could not register properly or not at all, causing them to miss the examination. But more was to come.
In the examination proper, the candidates were made to write, using the laptops provided by JAMB, not minding that some of them were not conversant with them, being that no such facility existed in their schools.
Many candidates also discovered in the exam hall that their systems had either been logged onto by other candidates, and therefore had to wait until they logged out, or that some errors were made while logging on, thus further robbing them of time.
Furthermore, some candidates' computers developed problems during the exam, meaning that they either did not have enough time to revise their work or did not finish. One of the candidates, Fides learnt, was concluding her exam when her computer went off. All she had written went with it and she could not submit her work through her system.
Ultimately, the CBT experiment by JAMB caused more harm than good, a development that would have been avoided had JAMB taken time to study some factors.
It is well known that in many secondary schools, computers are few and therefore cannot be accessed by the students. Those who managed to do so had not enough time to master their use. Yet, such students were made to face a major exam with a facility they were not used to.
While we commend the JAMB officials on their attempt to enforce computer literacy on candidates, we however feel that such an enforcement should have come at a later time when as many students as possible would have had access to computers and mastered them.
Because the JAMB officials were in a hurry to introduce the candidates to the computer, many who would have passed were unable to do so because of technical hitches or their non-mastery of computers.
While it can be argued that we are in the age of the computer, it must be appreciated that the current economic hardship prevalent in the country has hindered many students from owning a computer or even accessing one.
Indeed, the JAMB CBT has only succeeded in favouring the advantaged over the disadvantaged and since such exercises are supposed to be fair to all, the last JAMB examination can be considered a failure.
If the body has no fool proof plan of conducting its exams, it should revert to its original method until such a time it masters its own technology.