Like any great journey to the promised land, there was a vision of a land flowing with computer literates, students comfortably learning at international standards in Africa’s fastest growing IT hub. With our millennium development goals still in view, Nigeria’s strides would have to undertake a certain boldness. JAMB recognized this, and with Professor Dibu Ojerinde at the helm, the path to the computer based UTME was blazed in the waning months of 2011. The University of Illorin had recorded a tremendously successful exercise with a comparable system in 2012. By 2013, the first CBTs by JAMB were introduced. With all cylinders firing, and the success of subsequent tests, expansion was the next logical step. And then 2016 came along…
“Lo, the people were thirsty for their results there, and they grumbled against JAMB. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children lament at the server errors, power failures and awful waiting periods of the CBT?”
Oh yes, the people did grumble and groan under the weight of the errors, reminiscing on the comfort and security of the oh-so-familiar paper and pen, and in the end JAMB was protested against. Students lined the streets! The rage, the rumours, the resistance to reason! Story of the year so far!
It’s no lean feat to have a vision for a people who don’t want to believe in it. JAMB, in 2016 conducted the first countrywide computer based test, something that has never been done before. And as great science has always proved…first attempts always succeed! Don’t they? No? What about Rome? All in a day’s work?
Nigerians, we have a well-developed “pink-slip reflex”. Basically, when things go wrong, we do not care much for investigation. Instead, we ask for the head of the person in charge. Luckily, we are evolving into a society that appreciates analysis. Despite the shortcomings and the great scourging promised to JAMB by protestors in the street, the Federal Government and the House of Representatives have not hesitated to support the CBT, and Nigerians all over will be glad or livid to know this is the future of the UTME.
“Oga beht why?”
Consider a humble opinion: BECAUSE THIS IS 2016. BECAUSE THIS IS THE RESULT OF DOCUMENTED PROCESS. BECAUSE WE HAVE TO GET THIS BALL ROLLING.
JAMB didn’t wake up one fine Monday morning and decide to rain on everyone’s parade. Our country means to move forward, and it is steps like this that will ensure that people are aware of what is at stake.
Was the country-wide test too ambitious? Did JAMB have sufficient evidence to suggest that this exercise could be conducted? Was there sufficient monitoring of the private test centres? Was there (dare we say) a measurable level of success which is being overlooked?
JAMB has been cast in a bad light, largely due to a number of issues not directly connected to the CBT process. Shall we begin with our epileptic power supply? Lethargic internet connectivity? Or the prevalence of JAMB centres that touch up their facilities just enough to pass for an inspection, and revert to a sorry state on the day of examinations?
Nigeria is slowly growing a level of accountability, and it is here that Prof. Dibu Ojerinde and his team shine. As the complaints by students and parents rose, so too did JAMB, and for as many questions that were raised, they had an answer. Acknowledging the technological and infrastructural disadvantages of our nations test centres, the levels of computer literacy and the wiles of test centre managers, they insisted on a standard. A standard that was agreed upon in contract, one which is a matter of public record. Nigeria must have standards, and these are the steps we need to take as a nation to ensure we are not swayed by nostalgia or ham-handedness.
“When the music begins to play, people will dance.”
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