The aftermath of the 2016 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) that was characterised by widespread irregularities has continued to generate reactions from stakeholders in the education sector.
However, at the height of the reactions and protests by candidates, calls for the cancellation of the Computer Based Test (CBT) by the National Assembly (NASS) has generated serious concern among Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) partners in the conduct of the CBT examination.
Suggestion for a return to the status quo and cancellation of the CBT mode of test have heightens worries of owners of over the 600 CBT centres around the country.
Many of the partners whose investments in the assemblage of computer systems, networking, procurement of electricity generating sets, air conditioners as well as investment in manpower training are apprehensive of what will become of their multi-million investment and partnership with JAMB.
In an interview with correspondent, Director, Certified Institute Of Shipping, Magbon, along Badagry Expressway, Lagos, Professor Alex Okwunashi, lamented that cancellation and return of JAMB to status quo will spell doom for investors in the sector.
Speaking further on the conduct of the examination that was held simultaneously in seven foreign countries, he described the conduct of the examination as one of the best innovations that had happened to public examinations in the country.
“That candidates will write examination and receive results in less than 48 hours is a development that should be further perfected and sustained rather than call outright cancellation.
At CIS we have invested millions of naira to put the centre that is adjudged as one of the best in the country. We have over 300 new laptops powered by industrial generators.
We have a spacious hall, invested so much in networking of the computer systems and series of servers that inter-connects and link JAMB websites for the examination.
“A call for the cancellation of CBT is not the best for the Nigerian children and the Nigeria private-partnership group. You are talking of a national investment in parts of the country that run into several millions if not billion of hard earned money,” he said.
He added that outright cancellation will make the centres with thousand s of a web computers idle nationwide, saying what will owners of such centres do with such a large assemblage of computers and other paraphernalia of a CBT centre.
Another investor and owner of a CBT centre in Gboko Benue State appealed to the Federal Government and members of the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly not to cancel the CBT mode of tertiary admission test.
The owner who pleaded anonymity said his centre had over 400 computers worth several millions of naira sourced from a bank to put up the centre.
“I must tell you, I have become restless since the clamour for cancellation of the examination. You don’t say because a part of your head has grey hair and cut off the head.
“Yes there are challenges. Acceptable that there were teething challenges in the conduct of the examination using the CBT mode that is just two years old, in my opinion I think what should be done is to correct the ills and move the examination forward,” he stated.
Apparently worried about the pains of losing face with the private investors, the man in the eye of the storm, Registrar and Chief Executive of JAMB, Professor ‘Dibu Ojerinde, has faulted agitation for cancellation, saying this will not be in the interest of the candidates, parents ,government and owners of CBT centres.
Manager of Beijing International School, A CBT Centre in Kawo, Kaduna State, Engineer Kamaldeen Mustapha told Independent that the waste arising from outright cancellation of the CBT examination mode would be colossal to manage.
He lamented that judging from the sizes of CBT halls and facilities put in place by JAMB partners many investors will lose investment worth several millions of naira.
In his contributions, a Don at the Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ibadan and Deputy Director (Academic), Distance Learning Centre, University of Ibadan, Prof. Oyesoji Aremu, argued that the suggestion would have some hardships on JAMB that is currently suffering from integrity challenge arising from multiple CBT results some candidates claimed to be receiving from the body
According to him: “The revenue base of JAMB would be grossly dwindled and thereby affecting many activities of the body. These would include; reduction in the money that would be paid to CBT Centers across the country. The CBT Centers would also start to have a rethink of their operations and logistics if it pays to remain in partnership with JAMB. This is because many higher institutions and private organisations embark on CBT centers arising from full blown JAMB’s UTME CBT policy.”
Setting up of a JAMB Computer Based Centre Requirements include; a minimum of 250 functional Desktop Computer systems or laptops with 10% backups; provision of individual cubicle with minimum length of 26 inches, breadth of 18 inches and height of 18 inches and appropriate seat for each system.
Others are; minimum 15 inches flat screen Computer monitor for desktop or 17 inches for laptop, the computer systems must be connected to a robust computer server with a capacity to carry a minimum of 250 systems concurrently, all the computer systems must be linked together on Cable Local Area Network topology (LAN) – Wireless Computer connection is not allowed).
Also, adequate security and minimum of five technical personnel and one network engineer, availability of back-up power supply (power generating set of minimum 40kva for a centre with 250 systems; 60 kva for 350 systems and 100kva for above 350 systems and UPS/inverters that can carry all systems for a minimum of two hours.
Apart from security, the centre must have provision for a holding room or reception facility, must not be in shared premises such as cinema hall, shopping mall, market, and must have adequate and functional air-conditioners and lighting among others.