Thursday, March 24, 2016

Debate/Suggestion: The Prons, Cons, Pains, And Gains Of JAMB Computer Based Test [CBT] And Pencil And Paper Type [PPT]

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As the House of Representatives moved the motion on the need for the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, to revert to Paper Pencil Test, it is imperative as stakeholders to recapitulate the pains and gains of Computer Based Test, CBT and Paper Pencil Test, PPT. JAMB-CBT-CentreBetween 1978 to 2012, JAMB had conducted yearly, its national examinations on a single Saturday using paper pencil. Thus, for 34 years, the records were there for stakeholders to cross-check the good, the bad and the ugly of JAMB. However, in 2013, the Professor Dibu Ojerinde’s administration introduced the computer based test, explaining that it will correct the deficiency of the paper pencil test. Having experimented the CBT for just four years, the result is also out for all to see. 
Paper Examination:
It would be recall that last Thursday, the House of Representatives urged the Federal Government to direct JAMB to suspend the computer based 2016 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination test. The lawmaker while moving the motion said there is need for JAMB to revert to the paper examination until the board is ready to conduct a hitch-free Computer Based Test (CBT). It was reported that while some candidates were getting conflicting scores in the 2016 JAMB, others were complaining of malfunctioning computers, double-option answers and sudden short down of systems causing absurdities that placed some candidates at a disadvantaged position. 
Curbing Malpractice: 
However, before reverting to the paper pencil test, some stakeholders who are calling for patience with the Board, urged Nigerians to consider the advantages and disadvantages PPT and CBT. In his reactions, Mr. Abayomi Moody, a retired teacher who once taught at Federal Government College, Lagos said, he has experienced both PPT and CBT, as a teacher and as a parent. “When I took my son to write JAMB at Tolu Complex in Ajegunle, about 5 years ago, it was Herculean. We were there before seven but the exams did not commence till about 10. “While I waited for my son to finish I saw young men outside sending answers as text messages to students inside. I didn’t understand what was going on at first, till some of the students finished, came out and were complaining to the men that the answers were not correct or not for their type. It shocked me.’’ He continued: “Now I have brought my twins for CBT and I am most impressed that nothing of that nature is taking place. The students are on their own in there, left to rely on their abilities. ‘’With this CBT, students will sit up and study hard knowing that there would be no short cut to success.’’ On his part, Dr. Shina Akintolure, an education consultant, and lecturer at the Department of Science and Technology Education, Lagos State University said: “Before now, the pen and paper was super,but in the last 10 to 12 years, the rate of examination malpractice in Nigeria has been on the increase, as such it is the main reason why JAMB introduced CBT.’’ He, however, noted that the awareness campaign of CBT is not enough because students have not been well trained. ”If JAMB can go back to the drawing board and get it right, I believe CBT will delve in the right direction,” he added. Meanwhile, a specialist in Higher Education, Science, Computer and Environmental Education, Professor Peter Okebukola in his submission said that the inertia to change is part of life, adding that over time, human systems adjust to change as the forces of homeostasis kick in. According to him, the CBT of UTME is a classic example of this inertia, noting that in the he last two weeks, public comments have underlined the merits and demerits of the innovation which the Ojerinde-led JAMB recently introduced. He, however, argued that Professor Dibu Ojerinde and his staff should be commended for the far-sighted innovation. 
Far-Sighted Innovation:
The former NUC Scribe said: “The demerits of a full-scale CBT have been loudly canvassed to include weak technological infrastructure to support CBT on a large scale in Nigeria at this time, and the low level of ICT literacy of potential UTME candidates. 
Irregular Power Supply: 
Irregular power supply is another important element in the arsenal of people shooting down the idea of a full-blast CBT. Coincidentally, the worsening state of power supply met with the lament of President Buhari during the just-concluded retreat of the National Economic Council.” According to him, in spite of these handicaps, Nigerians need to be far-sighted in our approach and pitch our position on a number of emerging scenarios. “We are training undergraduates for an ICT-dominated 21st century, hence they should encourage all those who wish to take advantage of university education in Nigeria to be prepared for such a world through improving their computer-literacy skills before they obtain the form for the UTME. “The second scenario is that the Nigerian university system has capacity for only about a third of eligible candidates. It has more than enough to absorb hence it makes intuitive sense to select only the very best with ability to take the selection examination via the platform of a computer being a selection criterion. “The third scenario is that not less than half of those who claim they cannot use the computer during the CBT, use devices such as smart phones and are fluent in the use of these devices which require just a little tweaking to upgrade their computer skills. They complain when they score abysmally in the UTME and find a scapegoat to blame- Ojerinde’s CBT. “I queue up stoutly behind those who want the CBT to stay. There are two key advantages of not going back on the CBT mode of conducting UTME. 
First, it will catalyse the attainment of a higher degree of computer literacy by potential undergraduates of Nigerian universities. “Secondly, it will reduce to the barest minimum, cases of examination malpractice in the conduct of the UTME. “With all the glitches which popped up during the conduct of the 2016 UTME, my recommendation is for JAMB to regard the deadline of 2016 for stopping the paper-and-pencil mode of UTME as the “yellow card” and set 2018 for the “red card” when there will not be any form of paper-and-pencil testing. “The two-year grace period will allow JAMB to dot its “I”s and cross its “t”s. It will allow JAMB to do an accurate census of centres that can conduct near hitch-free CBT and clean up all the bugs (errors) in the software for the CBT delivery system.”

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