How JAMB, candidates prepare for 2017 UTME

One of the centres used for the UTME exams

After several months of preparation, the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, will commence the 2017 Unified Tertiary Matriculations Examination, UTME, on Saturday.

Many applicants said this year’s registration was one of the most hectic they experienced. Across the country, candidates laboured for hours and days to register.

The process begins with purchase of electronically-generated personal identification number (PIN), and ends with obtaining a print-out after registering personal details.

Following complaints, JAMB extended the closing date for registration to May 5, and by midnight that day, 1.7 million candidates had been registered – more than 1.2 million registered in 2016, JAMB said.

The exams will take place at 633 centres, but there are concerns about how prepared JAMB is, and whether the board has developed sufficient information technology capacity to make computer-based test mandatory for all candidates.

JAMB’s registrar, Ishaq Oloyede, said each test centre will have a supervisor, a technical officer, a verification officer, three proctors as well as security agents.

Each state will be supervised by a head of a tertiary institution (Vice-Chancellor, Rector or Provost).

PREMIUM TIMES visited some accredited CBT centres in Abuja and Lagos to assess their level of preparedness for the examinations starting Saturday.

At Digital Bridge Institute in Utako, Abuja, candidates were busy trying to resolve some last-minute hitches.

A candidate, Chioma Anyanwu, told this paper that she could not print her exam slip and date of birth was incorrect.

The centre’s JAMB administrator, Enobong Bassey, told PREMIUM TIMES that the centre would take 750 candidates per day for the duration of the exam.

“JAMB has been conducting their CBT exams at this center since 2013 when the use of CBT for UTME started,” he said. “This year’s exams is divided into three sessions per day, morning afternoon and evening session. Two hundred and fifty candidates will be sitting at each of the sessions making it a total of 750 candidates sitting for the exams per day.”

He said the centre would not deploy Eight Keys, a device used as an alternative by candidates who are not familiar with computer mouse.

“The eight keys are for the rural areas and even when the candidates experience hitches, we have standby support unit to attend to them,” he said.

Chamcity Institute, located at Maitama, will cater for 1,500 candidates each day. The institute, located within Sascon International School, has two centres.

Agbalede Adesua, the centre administrator, told PREMIUM TIMES that candidates who were experiencing challenges were the ones who did not provide correct registration information.

“During the registration, there are no issues before now except in cases where candidates were not properly registered. Example, if their emails are not well spelt, it will affect them,” she said. “We usually advise them to go back and correct their profile.”

Ms. Adesua said the centre would run on power generator, not public electricity, to avoid disruption. Security will be provided by the civil defense, mobile police and the army.

There were no students at the two centres at the time of the visit. But the computer room was well organised.

Lagos centres

At the WAEC office centre at Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos, students were on ground to confirm their centres. Students were also busy printing their exam slips. One student, Abayomi Alade, said they were being charged N200 for each, against JAMB’s directive that candidates should not be charged above N100.

At Yaba College of Technology centres I and II, the facilities were in good condition. The centres were well air-conditioned.

Olayinka Ojo, the manager of the networking section at the college, explained that the college made provisions for alternative power supply.

She said the computers were reliable, and they were using intranet, not internet.

“For this JAMB exam, the board has their own internet, they have done it in such a way that they don’t rely on the internet of their centres, the students wrote the mock exam, they had it smooth,” she said.

At Career Builders Academy at Agbara-Badagry expressway, the centre coordinator, Raki Rotimi, said while they were required by JAMB to provide 250 computers, they had 30 backups too.

Students react

Not all complaints could be resolved before the exams.

Idris Abah, a candidate in Abuja, told PREMIUM TIMES that the registration took a toll on him, leaving him with little time to prepare for his papers.

Another candidate, Chioma Edeh, said she could not correct a mistake in the subjects she selected for the exams before the expiration of the process. She said she was ready nonetheless.

It was not all bad news. At Ikeja centre, a candidate, Felicia James, said she had prepared well for the exam, and was anxious to be tested.

“This is my first attempt and I am excited. I have prepared well and I think I will do well,” she said.

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