Growth happens a lot faster when one is able to take a few pages from a more experienced author, or in this case, a few webpages. The internet is on the spear tip of modern evolution and the more connected we are, the faster our ability to develop.
The realities of the African continent, with most of our countries bringing up the tail end of the curve, prompted what many may later refer to as the “IT revolution”. Computer science, computer engineering, software development and IT solutions are surging to the top of African priorities. The response of our collective governments to IT solutions has defined and will probably continue to define our development in the next few years.
Uganda makes for an interesting study in this area. Transitioning to a knowledge-based economy, Uganda has recognized the need to respond to this goal with a well organized, international system of education fit for the long strides of the 21stcentury.
The Ugandan Ministry of Education and Sports made significant efforts to establish computer labs and a computer curriculum in the schools, as well as encourage hybrid learning systems that would focus on applying knowledge in an increasingly technological international environment. This initiative has been improving as the number of schools receiving equipment for computer labs increases. However, a distinct lack of adequately trained personnel and expertise continues to hinder their efforts.
Therefore, it was no surprise that the Ugandan National Examination Board (UNEB), sought advice on the viable solutions from Nigeria’s JAMB. Our two nations have stood together through a number of tests and the partnerships in education solutions is just another tie that solidifies the joint progress of our nations, and Africa in perspective.
UNEB’s presence as a stakeholder during a joint workshop on International Benchmarks on Item Banking in November 2015 was just one of the ways in which the two bodies exchanged notes on how to create a fair system that would meet the needs of students taking the exams but at the same time, ensure that issues like cheating and falsification of identity plaguing the validity of the exams are eliminated. Item banking allows for immediate storage, analysis and the collection of metadata (data about data) on the exam, allowing for automatic review and adjustment in the presentation of questions in the future.
Ugandas’s early attempts with computer based tests in controlled environments saw large breaches in security where students were able to use the same testing facilities to log on to search engines and find the answers to their questions online. By emulating the JAMB system, UNEB hopes to counteract and preempt such practices.
Professor. Dibu Ojerinde, Registrar of JAMB, stressed on the need for more creative IT solutions to tackle issues plaguing our education sectors.
“For example, in the CBT, I will sit and you will sit for it, but our number one questions are not the same. If you give one candidate a very tough item and you give another candidate a simple one, it will be imbalanced. Therefore, we must give public examination candidates items that have the same difficulty level, to be able to derive equal psychological basis.”