Monday Column by Emmanuel Yawe
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Professor Shamsudeen Amali is an academic and administrator of international repute. Trained at Nigeria’s Premier University in Ibadan and in the United States, he has been a Vice Chancellor of two Nigerian Universities – the University of Ilorin and the Nasarawa State University.
Before climbing to these Olympian academic heights, he served for four years from 1978 as a founding Board Member of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB. At the Stakeholders meeting of JAMB held at the National Judicial Institute Abuja on January 9th this year, the accomplished scholar could not hold back his emotions.
“Forty years ago I was appointed to serve on the first Board of JAMB. The late Michael S. Angulu was the first Registrar and we struggled hard as pioneers to lay the foundation on which our successors have built.”
He revealed that the task before them was not easy because right from the start, JAMB had many enemies who wanted to pull it down. Often he threatened to resign from the Board because of the work load and the antics of JAMBS opponents but he was urged to stay on by Michael Angulu.
“Today I am happy to say that JAMB is building the Nation. The work of JAMB is very important because without JAMB we shall be ruled by motor park touts and political party thugs”, Professor Amali told the meeting.
He said the decision by the current management of JAMB to convoke a stakeholders meeting was yet another bold step to build on the foundation that had been laid by the efforts of its pioneers. Defined by its founder, Professor Is-haq Olanrenwaju Oloyede as “a most potent strategic platform to share and validate the Board’s vision, solicit and obtain feedbacks and input”, the Stakeholders Meeting and other forms of engagement are held periodically to exchange information and create awareness; they have thus become ingrained in all facets of the Board’s activities as it strives to achieve its mandate.
This novel experiment of democratizing the policy formulation and operations of JAMB he further said is paying great dividends. The achievements of the Board in the 2017 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) according to him would have been less spectacular without the benefits of involving stakeholders of JAMB.
The 2017 UTME, he said was significant in many respects for it recorded the highest number of candidates, even with the registration period being essentially for one month; An optional Mock Examination was conducted for the candidates for the first time; Introduction of 8-Key Keyboard to minimize the challenge of use of Mouse for candidates during the Examination; Expanded and active involvement of stakeholders throughout the Exercise; domestication and better control of Examination Infras.
He promised that JAMB was even better equipped with new innovations to carry out a better exercise this year. The 2018 UTME Delivery Software, he said, employs biometric authentication of the Technical Officers to receive examination on the delivery server and activate it for the candidates. And the examination cannot be activated ahead of the scheduled time.
The Board has also prohibited additional materials during the 2018 UTME in the examination hall. These include wrist watches, biros, calculator, pencils except the common HB pencil, and any other device that can store data, transmit or receive signal no matter the form. These prohibitions are not only applicable to the candidates but to all examination officials.
Other measures specify that scanned pictures of candidates are no longer accepted for registration, except live capture at the accredited CBT Centers as part of the Registration Procedure. Furthermore, candidates’ pictures will be embossed on all candidates’ documents generated by JAMB henceforth.
In preparation for the 2018 exercise, the Board convened a Strategic Retreat on identifying the various technology devices used for examination practices and the measures to proactively address them towards the end of last year. The participants were experts from within and outside the country with some members of the Board’s top Management.
The objectives were to build a repository and archives of technology devices and methods in use for examination practices to serve as reference and build awareness, identify and profile all possible threats of technology supported examination malpractices, develop effective counter measures to detect, deter and prevent use of these technology devices and methods for cheating in the Board’s
examinations, and continuously update information about the technology devices and methods and make them available to relevant officials and stakeholders to equip them with the knowledge and skills to protect the credibility of the board’s examinations. It was the Retreat that re-affirmed the prohibition of the additional items mentioned earlier for this year’s UMTE.
The Stakeholders who met on the 9th January 10, 2018 are drawn from the academia, all former Registrars of JAMB, human rights activists, Labour organizations, media, administrators etc. They are split into groups with roles and responsibilities:
Chief External Examiners (CEE) provide overall leadership to all Examination personnel in the
State; Appoint Three (3) Proctors per CBT Centre in the State and ensure a hitch-free conduct of the Examination;
High-Powered Opinion Leaders monitor the Monitors and spot-check on CBT Centers;
The General Monitors Visit, Check and monitor all activities in all centers assigned;
Civil Society and Mass Media Provide publicity for the Examination;
NYSC State Directorate and Equal Opportunity Assist with the conduct of Examination for the visually impaired and prison candidates;
Youth of Virtues Monitor discreet officials & NYSC Members Coordinate the Youth towards anti-examination practices;
Peace Monitors monitor the conduct of the Examination from a central location on CCTV and through telephone calls and other communication means take periodic report on the conduct of the Examination from the
Chief External Examiner writes report and sends same to JAMB Headquarters at the end
of the Examination;
Bwari Centre Coordinates all activities of External Monitors and Supervisors in
the Secretariat (Bwari) Centre
The major function of JAMB Stakeholders is thus to act as Advisors to the Board and Ambassadors to disseminate information, create awareness and buy-in amongst their various constituencies and the general public. Finally, Stakeholders provide feedbacks from the field.
The democratization of JAMB through this process has yielded results – positive results. Not only has JAMB improved on its service delivery, it has enhanced the credibility of all examinations conducted by the body.
Professor Oloyede as Registrar of JAMB has done more for the organization. He has brought credibility to the government that gave him the chance through prudent management of resources. In the words of Adamu Adamu the Minister of Education:
“Since JAMB was established more than 40 years ago, the total amount it has given government was N200 million; but in one year, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede has remitted N5 billion to government. The new JAMB registrar has been correcting many anomalies in the board. Within a year, he has been able to stop all the untold things that were happening there.”
There cannot be a more positive endorsement of the efforts by Prof Oloyede than this.