After the official announcement last week Thursday at Abuja by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) Executive Registrar, Professor Dibu Ojerinde and Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Rufa'i, that from 2013, Computer- Based Test (CBT), will be used to conduct UTME, had since received reactions from stakeholders in the sector.
Computer-based test is the taking of a test on computer instead of on paper. The transition to computer-based test is an important investment in the future of its certification programmes. Experts have said that CBT among other benefits, will enhance fair and precise evaluation of a candidate's competency, rapid turnaround of exam results, more choices as to when and where to take the exam, easier registration and fortified examination security.
While the UTME candidates are expected to experiment usage of CBT next year, Rufai disclosed that the National Examination Council (NECO) and West African Examination Council (WAEC) candidates are to prepare ahead of 2015 when it will be in full operation.
According to her, one of the objectives of the e-testing was to ensure 100 per cent elimination of all forms of examination malpractice that had been the major challenge in the conduct of public examinations in the country.
Speaking with Vanguard Learning on the issue, the Vice-Chancellor, Bells University, Ota, Professor Adeyemi Isaac noted that the introduction of CBT for examinations is a welcome development in the education sector, adding, "We are in the era of technology where students are expected to be information communication technology-compliant."
He, however, stated that there are some questions begging for answers if we are to operate computer-based test. "Do we have what it takes nationwide to operate it across board, or do we have to experiment it with selected few in some states?"
According to Adeyemi, to operate such a capital project which has national spread, constant electricity supply must be put in place, unless, there is an alternative means of getting it done.
Moreover, he urged the Minister of Education to bridge computer literacy gap between students in the village and city, adding that many students in public schools are not computer literate because they are not exposed to the use of computer. "How many of those students can access the computer? Even when they are taught theory in class, how many of them have computer for practice," he asked.
Asked if the computer-based test will be 100 per cent free from examination malpractice as stated by the Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Rufai, he debunked the claim of total freedom from examination malpractice, stressing that corrupt data-base contractors could be bought over by unscrupulous students who are desperate to pass their examinations.
Despite this limitation, Adeyemi, nevertheless pointed out that for it to be successful, the examination body must have about 80 per cent confidence in the person at the database. "I know Professor Ojerinde to be a thorough man who will not give room to laxity," he added.
Contrary to the belief that CBT will eradicate examination malpractice, Miss Ayo Omalolu, student of University of Lagos said her experience last year during post-UTME revealed that CTB will aid malpractice. According to her, "As we were seated at the post-UTME examination hall, I discovered that some of the students stood up within two minutes, indicating they were through with the examinations.
Behind me, I started hearing, 'I have settled the guy in charge of the database to give 80 per cent.' With that experience, I strongly believe that this innovation will aid examination malpractice instead of eradicating it."
Also, a respondent who wished to identify himself as Buje, asked if the Professor knows exactly what he is out for, saying, he is getting it wrong. "Before introducing such e-testing to students, teach them how to use a computer by adding it to their curriculum before testing them through CBT. How many secondary schools in Nigeria are equipped with computers?" he asked.
On his part, a man who does not want his name in print spoke in the same vein, saying, "How can a brilliant student in the most remote part of Nigeria who has never got his hands on a computer due to lack of computers in his remote school and whose parents' incomes are so meagre that they cannot afford to buy him one, be able to take and pass the JAMB examination? Maybe JAMB examination will be for the privileged few," he added.
In his contribution, Akinlolu Oni said that computer-based examination is a welcome development, but however added that JAMB should ensure that the e-test and pencil-paper for those who may wish, should be conducted simultaneously to avoid question leakage.
For Kenneth; "JAMB should be abolished, let each university determine its own method of admission. Nigerian universities produced better graduates before the introduction of JAMB. Although the computerised examination system might be okay, but just scrap JAMB, it is a waste of time and money."
Besides, Yusuf Khalid, 400 level Economics student of UNILAG in his contribution said; "JAMB records over a million candidates annually which necessities the body to randomly centre candidates among the 776 local government areas in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of their choice.
However, this might not be effective because already, those centres available are not sufficient which periodically pose a problem to the body and consequently hinder effectiveness and efficiency in carrying out their activities or exams.
Now looking at the possibility of providing computers for more than a million candidates in a country that is regarded as underdeveloped or less developed, this might be impossible to implement, however some challenges are inevitable consequent upon the introduction of this. These are:
• Time consuming factor,
• Monumental waste of resources/Resource insufficiency, • Nigeria electricity condition, • Problem of non-simultaneous conduction of exam,
• Disclosure of exam questions by corrupt officials and
• Mix-ups in result computation."