JAMB And 2017 UTME Challenges

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Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB CBT centres approved for the 2017 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) registration.

On April 8, 2017, the Registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Ishaq Oloyede announced a shift in the closing of the registration for the 2017 Unified Tertiary Matriculations Examination (UTME). The announcement came four days after the House of Representatives, in response to the outcry of Nigerians, asked the JAMB to consider the postponement of its registration exercise.
In that announcement, the Board extended the deadline for sale of forms and registration for the exams from April 19 to May 5 and also postponed the 2017 UTME from May 13 to May 20. The statement also indefinitely postponed the mock examination scheduled for Saturday, April 8, 2017.
While apologizing to candidates for the sudden changes, the Registrar attributed the cancellation of the mock test to failure from its technical partners but added that “the appropriate rehearsal and test –running of the new system has been substantially achieved”.
According to him, “The plan was to test-trial the readiness of our facilities and address the challenges that may likely confront the main examination,” adding that, “it is our strong conviction that the exercise is an experience for us. Our system analysis has revealed interesting findings that will engender a seamless and successful 2017 UTME exercise”.
While we  appreciate the sentiments of Prof. Oloyede, there is undeniably very strong indication that not many Nigerians share the convictions and optimism of the head of the examination body.
Indeed, many Nigerians are worried about the preparedness of JAMB for a smooth conduct of the 2017 UTME. For applicants especially, this year’s registration process for the exam has turned out to be one of the most stressful and strenuous exercises they have ever witnessed. In a bid to get themselves registered, many would-be candidates were reported to have waited from sunrise to sunset, while some have actually slept for days at registration centres without success.
The lucky ones, according to reports, spent between two and three days to get done with the entire process which begins with the purchase of the electronically generated Personal Identification Number (PIN) from the bank to the registration of particulars and obtaining a print-out from the registration centre.
While The Tide acknowledges some of the issues the new innovations like the PIN vending system and the mock examination were meant to address, we believe that a more cursory analysis and better, realistic assessment of some undeniable facts of our situation in the country would have saved some of the avoidable hitches that have so far attended the 2017 UTME registration exercise.
For instance, one of the unfortunate experiences some applicants face with the process is  the slow speed of internet services at the Computer Based Test (CBT) centres. Some had been stranded at registration centres as they were unable to generate the PIN due to poor network.
There is indeed a feeling among some Nigerians that the country has not developed enough capacity in Information Communication Technology (ICT) to make CBT mandatory for all candidates of the UTME.
JAMB on its part, should have realised that while the policy to pay directly to government coffers through designated banks would eliminate the fraudulent practices associated with the scratch card method, the designation of only three banks where monies could be paid, and only a few points where registration could be made, created bottlenecks in the system.
Furthermore, the examination body did not show requisite capacity and efficiency by the way it bungled its much publicized mock examination. It is worrisome to note that until the very day of the test, JAMB did not realise that the exercise would not hold. Worse still, many candidates waited at the test centres until afternoon hours before the information of the cancellation was broken to them.
The Tide only hopes that the unfortunate fate that befell the 2017 JAMB Mock Examination will not befall the main UTME. We also hope that no applicant will be denied the opportunity to sit for the examination on account of the new registration method.
We, therefore, urge the Board to perfect its acts and live up to its responsibility. The examination body should particularly save the applicants for the UTME and their parents or guardians further harrowing experiences, as well as save the country further embarrassment.