* 25 candidates affected in Abuja cry profusely
*Parents blame board, say it confused candidates with multiple addresses
*We’re not at fault over dev’t, says JAMB
By Joseph Erunke
SOME candidates who registered to write the 2020 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME, failed in their bid to participate in the exercise because they arrived after their scheduled time had already begun.
The candidates who were scheduled to write the examination at the Global Distance Learning Programme Institute, opposite the Ministry of Finance, Central Business District, Abuja, were barred from entering the examination hall for arriving some minutes late.
The development caused tension as both parents and the affected candidates engaged security deplored at the centre for taking the action stopping them from participating in the exercise.
The tension was doused when the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, accompanied by JAMB’s registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede and some officials of board arrived to monitor the exercise beginning from the centre.
The aggrieved parents and candidates who had waited while protesting their non-inclusion in the exercise were asked to wait aside for the government’s officials to carry out their assignment.
But they could no longer hold their patience when Echono and his team left without addressing their problems as they burst into tears and wept inconsolably.
The affected candidates told Vanguard that they arrived late because JAMB provided multiple addresses in the printed slips.
Speaking, they said the multiplicity of examination towns provided by JAMB caused them to find their examination centre difficult to locate.
The students said they had gone to Suleja and Mandala, all in Niger State as early as 4 am not only to locate the Global Distance Learning Institute which was indicated in their printed slips as their examination centre to write their examination billed to commenced by 7 o’clock in the morning only to be redirected to a centre in Abuja municipal area.
“It is the fault of JAMB and not candidates. JAMB provided multiple examination towns. This action confused these candidates because there was no clear- cut examination centre, a parent of one of the candidates said as her daughter wept inconsolably.
Most of the candidates who were still expecting that the board would later consider them for another session, were mindful of their identities as they spoke in fear that their names could be taken for punishment by the board if eventually allowed.
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Speaking on the issue, JAMB’s Head of Media, Dr Fabian Benjamin, denied that the organisation committed any wrong.
Fabian, who said JAMB doesn’t condone lateness, added that the candidates who missed their scheduled examination cannot be rescheduled as according to him, their questions which were individually programmed had returned to the source.
According to him, the affected candidates mistook examination centres for examination towns.
He explained that instead of going to their examination centres, the candidates went to examination town chosen by the board to guide them on the limitation of the area their examination centres were restricted to.
Even as he said the exercise had been hitch-free, he admitted that there were challenges in some areas.
“There are no centres where you won’t have any challenges at all,” he said, explaining that, “In one of the centres, they had challenges and couldn’t write exams and we rescheduled them to take their examinations today.”
“We have set machineries in motion to address such challenges when they occur. The important thing is there are processes to address those challenges when they arrive, we have been addressing them.
“For every candidate who registered for this examination, we are sure except if that candidate decided not to come,” he said.
Fabian added that there were issues of biometrics and local area network issues because according to him,” some cables were not trunked properly.”
“When candidates step on it,they could be fractured and we are addressing them,” he further said.
Meanwhile, the federal government said it was satisfied with the general conduct of the examination.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Sony Echono said the smooth conduct of the exercise showed that efficiency had been established.
“We have gotten a good hand on it, efficiency has been established and we are improving on it each time.”
According to him, “This year, we had some innovations; even at the point to take your exams, we take your biometrics and it is the only basis with which even your questions can be activated on our computer.”
“Everything is moving smoothly, candidates are also adjusting to the CBT system, we are proud to have professor Oloyede who with his integrity and commitment has given this to us,” he said.
Echono spoke further: “The added advantage of this is that we are transforming our education sector, digitizing our educational curriculum and that is what we want to show Nigerians.
“We had minimal hitches nationwide and we programmed it in such a manner that the students are able to access this examination.
“This is an effective mode and our universities are beginning to participate in the process because we all are seeing what is done and gradually we will do away with some of the other supplementary procedures that they do.”