29 JANUARY 2015
Nigeria: Seeking Lasting Solution to Students' Mass Failure in Examinations
Emma Okonji examines how the signing of a pact between the federal government and two indigenous software companies will help address the increasing rate of mass failure of students in national examinations
Worried about increasing rate of mass failure of students at the yearly JAMB and West African School Certificate (WASC) examinations in the country, the federal government, through the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), is now thinking of using technology-based solution to reverse the disturbing trend.
In this regard, NITDA, last week in Abuja, signed a partnership deal with two indigenous software companies, Cinfores Limited and WaveTek Nigeria Limited, with a view to addressing the increasing rate of mass failure in national examinations in Nigeria through the use of information and communications technology (ICT) tools.
With the agreement, both technology companies will deploy a special version of Nigeria's foremost e-learning and examination preparatory software, called Cinfores BrainFriend. The special version which is customised for the forthcoming 2015 JAMB and the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), is known as JAMB BrainFriend.
Director-General of NITDA, Mr. Peter Jack, who signed the agreement on behalf of the federal government, said government was becoming worried about the poor performance of students and wanted to deploy technology solution that will help address the situation.
According to him, the agency keyed into the initiative as part of its effort to further deepen and encourage local content development in education and other sectors of the economy as mandated by the Act setting up NITDA.
The House of Representatives had in 2013 summoned the Registrar of JAMB, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, over the mass failure of candidates in the 2013 UTME. There were protests from candidates, parents and guardians across the country, over the mass failure, which prompted the invitation of Ojerinde by the House of Reps.
The House explained that the summon became imperative because of the various complaints from the members of the public on the outcome of the examinations. According to them "we heard that JAMB authorities had formally explained some reasons for the mass failure, this is not enough if the content of the complaints of Nigerians is anything to go by."
The House of Reps had alleged that the mass failure might not be unconnected with the introduction of computers for the examinations, bearing in mind that most of the candidates, especially those in government secondary schools were not exposed to computer-based test before the examinations. The new solution is therefore an avenue to teach students how to study and write computer -based test.
The 2014 JAMB results that were released last year, showed that the board invalidated the results of 36,164 candidates, and withheld 2,494 others, with 37,315 absentees, out of 462, 571 candidates that sat for the exam. The Registrar of JAMB, Prof. Ojerinde, who made the disclosure, said 24 of the candidates scored 250 points and above in the examination, and 108,488 candidates scored between 200 to 249 points, while 315,401 candidates scored between 170 to 199 points.
The results also showed 315, 401 candidates, which is about three-quarter of the entire number of candidates that sat for the exam, failed, and this has been a major source of worry for the federal government. Hence, the decision to seek for technology solution that will address the issue.
According to Jack, "There is certain decline in quality of education in our country Nigeria. The mass failure in UTME and other national examinations in recent years, as a case in point, is a mixture of many things including the non-availability of quality local resources to change the tide of mass failure and exam malpractice that has plagued the nation."