29 JANUARY 2015
The use of internet has eased the way people live in Nigeria. Many applications (apps) have been developed in the areas of agriculture and education, health among others, which have helped solving human problems.
President, Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), Bayo Banjo, said access to the internet has become a double-edged sword. To Lagos State Commissioner for Science and Technology Mr. Adebiyi Mabadeje, the hidden dangers unguided access to internet portends to students, moved the state to organise an awareness campaign for primary and secondary schools pupils.
Aside using the internet as a platform to acquire genuine knowledge, it has also become a platform for the perfection of organised examination frauds. Through the internet, innocent people have been swindled of their whole life savings. Several marriages have been consummated and broken on the internet while cyber bullies have forced the young at heart to commit suicide.
The Minister of Communication Technology, Dr (Mrs) Omobola Johnson said the information communication technology industry (ICT) in Nigeria has grown phenomenally over the last one decade. According to her, the industry is now viewed as “a critical sector of the economy, ranked with oil & gas and power,” contributing significantly to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).
“The industry currently contributes 9.58 per cent to GDP (Q3 2014) and is further enabling other sectors of the economy. The total mobile internet subscriptions increased to 73.8 million as at September 2014 from 45 million in 2011 while internet penetration increased to about 52 per cent in September 2014 from about 26.5 per cent in September 2011,” she said.
But determined to ensure that the internet is deployed to knowledge acquisition, two firms, Cinfores Limited and WaveTek Nigeria Limited, have developed e-learning app they argue will address mass failure in the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has partnered with the two software technology companies to address the increasing rate of mass failure in national examinations in the country through the innovative JAMB BrainFriend app.
According to JAMB, in 2011, a total of 1,493,604 candidates wrote the examination out of which 2, 892 candidates scored above 300 marks while 842, 851 candidates below 200 marks. 495,426 candidates scored between 200-249 while 67,732 candidates scored between 250 and 269. The result further showed that 31, 444 candidates scored between 270-299 marks while another 7, 504 candidates had their results withheld because they were under investigation. Another 15,160 about 1.14per cent had their results
cancelled because of examination malpractices while 28,069 candidates had invalid and incomplete results.
In 2012, only three candidates scored 300 and above; 901 scored between 270 and 299; 71,339 scored between 250 and 269; 601,151 scored between 200 and 249; 374, 920 scored between 170 and 199 while 336, 330 scored below 170.
Two years ago, the board withheld 12,110 results for possible disciplinary action. JAMB Registrar, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, said after thorough processing of answer scripts of the candidates who sat for the examination, the board discovered some forms of malpractice perpetuated during the conduct of the examination.
A total of 1,629,102 candidates applied to sit for the Paper Pencil Test (PPT), while 15,008 candidates applied for the Dual Based Test, bringing the number of candidates to 1,644,110.
He said: “The general performance of candidates in this year’s examination shows remarkable improvement compared with last year’s. Ten candidates scored 300 marks and above, while 127,017 candidates scored between 1-159 marks.
“About 40,692 candidates’ results were invalid due to either multiple shading or no shading at all. After processing all the results, the board also discovered that about 47,974 candidates were absent.”
These are certainly disturbing results no doubts. The Director-General of NITDA, Mr. Peter Jack, lamented the steep decline in the quality of education in the country and the need to use ICT to improve the situation. He stressed the need to apply home-grown technology resources to address the twin issues of mass failure and malpractices in examination.
He said: ‘There is certainly a sharp decline in the quality of education in our country. The mass failure in JAMB exams and other national examinations in recent years is a function of many things including the dearth of quality local resources to address the scourge. JAMB BrainFriend software will definitely tackle this.”
Jack said, NITDA, as an IT agency, is committed to transforming every sector of the country. Jack said the agency will leave no stone unturned and partner local and international organisations to develop local solutions that will meet the needs of the sector. He said NITDA will do everything within its power to support the partnership between the two companies. He added that this is why the agency has keyed into the initiative as part of its effort to deepen and encourage local content development in education and other sectors of the economy as mandated by the ACT setting up the agency.
Managing Director Cinfores Limited, Mr. Asawo Ibifuro, said the two software firm decided to introduce the software to arm students with all that is needed for them to do well in their examination.
Asawo, who frowned at the increasing rate of failure of students in JAMB examinations, said the software firm will continue to develop innovative apps that would promote ease in knowledge acquisition. He said: “We are committed to helping the students to pass their various educational examinations. We have assembled over 20,000 questions, answers and explanations that would help them overcome any kind of questions that come their way. This software will also banish any phobia that may arise from the electronic JAMB examination taking off this year.”
The Managing Director of WaveTek Nigeria Limited Mr. Ken Spann, said the two companies realised the dangers of mass failure and its implication for the future of the country. According to him, the 75 per cent
failure rate in the last JAMB examination in the country is unacceptable Spann who worked for 11 years at Microsoft Corporation in the United States (US) and Nigeria respectively promoting Microsoft Education value through Microsoft IT Academies, added that the firm would leverage on its network in the education sector.
He said: “Through our strong network in education, we are collaborating with Cinfores to be its marketing partner and ensure that BrainFriend is used by the over 1.4 million students registered for the exam taking place in March this year.”
Cinfores Limited had in the last 10 years pioneered locally developed e-learning and exam preparatory software also known as Cinfores BrainFriend.
The new version of the software also contains over 20,000 questions, answers and explanation; 19 JAMB subjects/ subject combinations for the major disciplines; prototype/ past JAMB questions; career counseling guide; quick references/ study notes; performance tracking; summary/ questions on the UTME 2015 special literature –The Last Days at Forcados; available on Windows/ Android devices; free online counseling @ www.brainfriendonline.com; approved/ certified by the Federal Ministry of Education, Nigerian Educational Research Development Council (NERDC) and NITDA and affordable.
Sector analysts say access to both PC and devices remain major challenges. For one, the software could only run on Android/Windows devices that are relatively expensive. The software cannot run on features phones that are affordable.
But Mr. Jack has promised to make the software available to all the NITDA digital centres across the country to enable examination candidate access it. He also promised to reach out to the NCC and the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) to make available the software to all its Community Communication Centres in order to extend the reach of the software to all, especially the candidates who cannot afford either a personal computer (PC) or a mobile device to activate the software for personal use.
The two organisations are however optimistic that with the new wave of public and private sector deployment of locally adapted ICTs for the education sector, most of the challenges faced in the sector will be history. The CEOs urged all well-meaning Nigerians, organisations and institutions operating in the country to support the efforts by acquiring the licenses of the software and make it available to pupils and students across the country.
Parents and teachers were also urged to download its mobile version on their Android or Windows devices to enable their wards that may not have devices to access the software pending when they could get devices for them. This is to ensure that at least 60 per cent of the candidates preparing for the examination have access to the software to use it to prepare adequately for the forth-coming examination.
“We are sure this will be the game changer and we will begin to have more successful candidates in our national exams as we fully embrace this solution for forth coming JAMB UTME and related solutions for similar exams,” they said.