By: Anthony Kolawole
Nigerians should shout aloud, with thumps up in the air for Professor Is-haq Oloyede, the current Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB). I say everybody should shout loud praises to him. Wait a minute! Why am I sounding like an incensed Pentecostal Pastor, whose tithe basket caught the biggest “fish” ever, minutes before the commencement of the evening session of “signs and wonders?”
It is not exactly so; but it’s something close to it. Hurray! the JAMB registrar has shamed critics again; he has silenced skeptics. He has left the professional exam fraudsters and their allies jobless and lurking everywhere on the corridors of the educational sector in Nigeria speechless. Oloyede conducted a seamless and near 100 percent successful Computer Based Test (CBT) for the 2017 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) in spite of malicious opposition to it.
It is in the character of those who reap from the decay in the education sector to always vehemently oppose any innovation or the application of reforms that would sanitize the system. Therefore, they attacked the JAMB registrar and threw all sorts of defamatory missiles at him. They called him names and sued for his crucification.
Shockingly, a faction of ASUU, particularly the Ibadan Zone was part of this conspiracy. They wrote memos, petitions and probably, resorted to voodoo to attack Professor Oloyede. When the antics failed to create the damage and halt the sanitization of JAMB exams, they laughably called for the sack of the JAMB registrar, a tested performer, whom they maliciously brand as incompetent.
Even without JAMB’s independent Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure to anchor this laudable innovation of CBT, Professor Oloyede, a university teacher and administrator per excellence, worked out a perfect synergy with private ICT centers proprietors and superintended over a near hitch –free CBT exams. And come to think of it, over 1,736,571 candidates sat for the exams, which were segmented in batches across the nation in a span of one week in 642 centers.
The JAMB boss developed a water-tight and sensitive ICT security alert system that detected exam fraudsters who connived with JAMB approved operators of CBT centers. They were watched in the central control room, caught and penalized together with fraudulent candidates accordingly.
In addition, candidates’ widely applauded the conduct of the CBT as smooth and easy-going. They were full of praises for JAMB, as the online business of UTME has speeded every process of the exams.
While veiled opponents of sanity in the conduct of exams in Nigeria hid their faces in shame, independent observers equally joined candidates in eulogizing JAMB for the conduct of a perfect exam. The Joint Action Coalition on Education (JACE) deployed its officials who monitored the conduct of the CBT in all the 36 states of federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). And they returned a verdict of excellence on JAMB generally and Professor Oloyede in particular.
A statement by JACE Southwest Zonal Co-ordinator, Mr. Ayokunle Adumashin conveyed it in floating details. It stated; “From our observations: The examination was orderly and met set standards in all in the centres monitored by our coalition. The few incidents recorded, were largely issues pertaining to human factor and not caused by systems or process.
” The examination showed the imperative for continued investment in broadband penetration and stability in addition to improving on power supply situation in the country. The suggested improvements would totally eliminate the few glitches recorded,” it pontificated.
It is my conviction that those who have sworn to pull back Nigeria in the regime of “Change mantra,” as enunciated by President Muhammedu Buhari cannot be prevented from venting their spleen and anger against anyone, like Professor Oloyede, who is determined to create a difference. But they are powerless to halt the moving train of “change” and the positive whirlwind shall continue to blow in institutions manned by competent hands, who share the same vision with Mr. President.
We are an unfortunate people. In Nigeria, we all know, the desire of candidates to cheat in every exam, whether conducted by JAMB, WASSCE or the universities is given a boost by parents desperate to see their children acquire certificates they cannot defend the knowledge certified by the certificates’. There are exam leakage syndicate all over Nigeria . And shockingly, it is a means of livelihood for the crooks. Even with the implementation of the CBT, we have noticed how some operators of ICT centers dubiously connived with candidates to compromise the sanctity of the exams.
But thanks to JAMB’s surveillance and alertness. These fraudulent characters were secretly detected by the security devices JAMB installed and today, the few candidates yet to receive their results are those caught up in the exam fraud scam, which is being further investigated by JAMB. It has continued to release results of centers and candidates absolved from complicity after investigation. It will not surprise me, if tomorrow another band of veiled antagonists to sanity in Nigeria’s educational sector attempts to blackmail JAMB and Professor Oloyede with it. It is the sad narrative of our debased lives.
As expected, these parasites have begun subtle campaigns, alluding to JAMB tinkering with the idea of dumping the CBT for the analogue Paper and Pencil Test (PPT) for the UTME. But JAMB has refuted it as untrue, false and extremely misleading. The CBT mode of exams has come to stay and the black hearts can jump into the Lagoon, at their peril.
Rather the JAMB boss and JAMB board are further modifying the CBT mode to make it much easier and friendly to erase the technophobia that gripped some candidates in the 2017 edition of CBT exams. They are determined to consolidate on the gains recorded in the last exercise.
A recent statement by the JAMB boss, Professor Oloyede at Arewa House, Kaduna, during a strategic planning retreat on monitoring and supervision of 2017 UTME, divulged the decision of JAMB’s board to henceforth adopt the use of the eight keys, instead of the traditional mouse for computers.
He informed; “From the general feedback on the adoption of the Computer Based Test mode, we have noted the challenge of computer low level literacy of some candidates, especially with the phobia for the mouse.”
“This has been responsible partly for the call by some people for reversal to the Paper and Pencil Test mode. In order to ensure equity and level playground for all candidates taking the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, the Board has designed a system that will allow candidates use only eight (8) keys without the use of the mouse,” Oloyede expatiated.
But we must accept the unalterable truth that the entire world and knowledge are ICT driven now. Nigeria in the 21st century, cannot afford to continue to run its educational system on the analogue mode. ICT –driven CBT has several advantages to the educational system and the candidates tested through it.
First, the online registration is more accurate and leaves low incidents of errors; it checkmates exam fraud; no issues of impersonation; it ensures the quick and almost instant release of results to candidates, who get it in the comfort of their homes through online channels.
And above all, the CBT will provoke the intensity of ICT education at the lower rungs of the educational system to compel schools to properly teach their students the use of ICT in readiness for JAMB’s CBT to proceed for higher education. These are the pluses ICT/ CBT have impinged on our economy, education and national life as a nation.
In foreign countries, the whole process of learning is done online. E-learning has replaced paper and biro or chalk and blackboard. There is no university overseas that still subjects students to the primordial system of learning as some debased Nigerians insist on retaining. We should be grateful to Professor Oloyede and by implication, the innovations brought by JAMB in education.
We now know that the CBT which seemingly appeared impossible is not just do-able, but perfectly too. All universities in Nigeria should emulate his example and kick-start the process of thinking of how to administer knowledge through e-learning.
Of course, I know Professor Oloyede is not new on the game. He faced stiff opposition as Vice Chancellor of University of Ilorin,(Unilorin) when set out to introduce e-learning techniques. He was stoutly opposed.
But I know him as a man who is never afraid of trial and he ventured into it and came out successful, like the JAMB case has demonstrated. Today, Unilorin sits on the pioneering seat of universities in Nigeria to adopt e-learning and has continued to attract unprecedented public patronage. Those in doubt, should spare a day and take a trip to Unilorin where Oloyede also introduced the CBT exams and it’s working perfectly. Once again, thumps up for Professor Oloyede. He is my perfect role model.
Kolawole PhD writes from the Institute for International Strategic Studies, Abuja.