JAMB 2018: Checkmating cheats with chips, By Hamidu Danbarewa

The focus is again zooming into the annual JAMB examinations season which kicked off recently in Abuja where Registrar, Professor Ishaq Oloyede unveiled a package of updated measures featuring candidate-friendly as well as scam-jamming initiatives to critical stakeholders in his continuing determination to exit the “exams as usual” era. Barely a year on the hot-seat, the professor’s unconventional challenge of “widely-believed” impressions and attitudes in the national examinations arena has yielded unexpected insights and reforms that impacted positively on JAMB’s performance rating in management and conduct of national examinations policies and programmes.

The clean-up ease up process however continues especially for candidates. Professor Oloyede expressed a determination to “be ahead of the cheats” as he announced that electronic jammers would be introduced at all CBT exam centers for 2018 as well as metal and lens detectors to ensure that the integrity of the tests is maintained. Accordingly, wrist watches, any form of pen excluding pencils and any electronic, gadget, device or lens will be contraband and even eye glasses are to be scrutinized following expert advice indicating that there may be more than meets the eyes in the spectacles! Closed circuit TV cameras are already major components of JAMB exam security infrastructure since the probing professor came on board.

Last year he nabbed quite a haul of cheats and their tools including 1,386 candidates involved in impersonation, possession of prepared answer scripts, smuggling of foreign materials, possession of electronic gadgets including telephone, copying and spying from foreign materials, unruly behaviour, collusion and multiple registration and examinations with an array of tools such as shirts, slippers, belts and handkerchiefs. Specifically, the JAMB Registrar declared success in checkmating the menace of dualization of biometric capturing to multiple persons to achieve multiple registration with the adoption of smart software for 2018. Similarly, CBT malpractices given the red card include extortion of candidates during profile creation, sale of exam materials meant to be free, collection of gate fees, using emails and telephone numbers for candidates, subletting access codes to cybercafés and operating outside registered locations.

The necessity of countering and preventing exam malpractices to maintain the integrity of the process cannot be overemphasized, but often the innovative measures blend into the overall objectives of JAMB to deliver a national examination process that is both candidate friendly and security assured. For the 2018 exercise, Professor Oloyede unveiled some dual purpose measures such as creation of profile and vending of PINS in place of scratch card system for registration, more banks, financial service providers and NIPOST as outlets for sale of application documents at CBTs and activating multiple registration technology at CBT centers all of which facilitate one-stop process at CBT centers for convenience of candidates among others. Candidates can also sit for JAMB in Benin Republic, Cameroon, Ghana, Cote D’Voire, Ethiopia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and the UK.

Candidates will be able to create their profiles from their cell phones which will then be linked to their PINS after purchase from virtually all banks and financial service providers from ATMs to POS which will have outlets in CBT centers and JAMB offices. After successful payment and receipt of PIN on unique telephone numbers candidates can complete registration processes at accredited CBT centers.

The Board is working with the Digital Bridge Institute for a dedicated center for blind candidates using the CBT mode of delivery even as tertiary institutions with required facilities continue to provide exams for blind candidates, Prof.Oloyede disclosed , adding that the disbursement of N 10.8 million and N18 million naira respectively to Ikoyi Prison for sixty computer systems and Kaduna Prison for 100 computer systems under JAMB’s Corporate Social Responsibility would go a long way to enhance the extension of examinations to prison inmates.

All said, the Professor and his team remain focused on taking JAMB to the next level in terms of being up to speed with credible implementation policies and programmes that respond intelligently and proactively where necessary to the realities of our academic and socio-political environment for conduct of national examinations in compliance with best practices. Remarkably, the reformer-registrar’s national profile traversed ivory towers and academia and loomed over the socio-political horizon by persistently exposing the ignoble roles of parents, students and the society at large in scuttling UTME processes.

It is hardly surprising that dynamism and innovation is the order of the day where the challenges are also ever evolving whether in terms of crookedness of candidates, collusion of corrupted patrons and service providers or raising the academic limits in determining excellence with integrity. That is a tough agenda anywhere but with the strategy of inclusiveness in policy formulation and implementation by regular interaction with critical stakeholders, Professor Oloyede does not look like one who “took the driver’s seat while in motion with little knowledge of the crew members” anymore. This oga driver knows the terrain and the destination well enough for another successful outing in 2018.

Danbarewa writes from Kaduna