Professor Is-haq Olanrewaju Oloyede is the Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB). In this interview with journalists, he speaks on the Board’s readiness to use its new software to conduct seamless examination for other organisations. FELIX KHANOBA was there.
The Board just conducted a promotion exam for its staff members, what is your take on the exercise?
The significance of the examination is not only that we are conducting our promotion exam using our own system but the most significant aspect of it is that we do third party exam. one of the last ones we did was that of the Police Service Commission (PSC), and we saw that because we are trying to save money some mischievous people wanted to embarrass us with it, because the software we were using has inbuilt mechanism that it must carry 180 questions that if they are not complete it will not move.
With it you can tell people write exam from 1 to 120 but don’t do anything about 140 and below, it was in such instance that some mischievous people decided to see what was below and started saying ‘they are setting Arabic questions and so on’. We saw that was capable of generating unnecessary ill-feelings, so we now felt that we must go and spend money and create a new vehicle that is flexible for third party exam, so that if the exam is to be 120 questions, we give them 120, if it is 180, you give them 180 and it will move through our system.
What we have been doing before was if you want 50 exams (questions) we give you but we will load 180 and tell you to do 1 to 50, but now we have created a purposeful vehicle that if you want 10 questions they will be there, same with if you want 20 and it will move through our system and it has all the inbuilt mechanisms for protection. The value of it is that our third party clients should be more comfortable with us that we have taken them into consideration and created a vehicle that just tell want you want and it will move.
We have restricted our own rigid vehicle to our examination but all the protections are still in this one; you cannot hack into it, you cannot do anything evil with it but is not as rigid as our own in terms of number of questions, but it is efficient as JAMB has ever been and we can assure our third party clients that JAMB is now (fully) ready for them. It cost us N6 million to put this software on ground, this was what we were running away because we thought it was unnecessary but having seen what mischief could cause we believe we should have a purposefully built vehicle for our third party clients.
Does that mean all the questions will now come out in alphabetical order if a candidates (for third party exam) log into the system?
You see in the past, we were the ones using microphone to tell them do question 1 to …, but now all the things are there now. Anything our third party want will be on the screen, you don’t need to be telling people because there could be deaf people among them, now everything is written and anybody that give us exam to conduct, they know the rules and that we will not bend the rules, ones you have chosen to use JAMB we are telling you we are ever ready and more ready than ever now because we have created a brand new vehicle for our third party clients.
What is your reaction to the calls in some quarters that Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) fee should be reduced?
Why are they not asking WAEC, why are they not asking NECO, why are they not asking NABTEB to reduce their fee? Why JAMB? We charge the least and you are saying reduce, you must ask those people why they are asking that question. They are asking that question simply because we have been transparent with them to say yes the money we are collecting we have this balance. They must be forthright enough to say the basis for the call.
If you want to say reduce, you must be either say because you are charging the highest or because you have increased, but you can’t say any of those things. If we want to reduce, we will reduce on our own terms because we are not under any pressure to reduce. Tell me any country in the world that is charging as low as we charge for admission, anywhere in the world. Tell me is it Ghana or Georgia? Anywhere or any university that is charging less. We are charging the least which means the issue is not about want we charge but because we have a means of managing the resources properly and we now have what you can call excesses or surplus, and because we are open enough to return the surplus to government you now say we should crash the cost, what should be the basis of crashing the cost assuming the method we are using now is no longer available and we have to use the old method, what will happen? We increase again? If the government feels we should adjust it government will tell us and we will adjust and not as a result of baseless request.