Unlike the experiences of many candidates during the mock examination in March, there were fewer technical glitches and slight delays at various computer-based test centres visited by PREMIUM TIMES reporters on Tuesday as the 2023 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) kicked off nationwide.
UTME, which is conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), is the entrance examination for admission seekers into tertiary institutions in Nigeria including universities, polytechnics, monotechnics and colleges of education.
This year, JAMB said about 1.6 million candidates registered to take part in the examination which has been scheduled to hold between 25 April and 2 May.
Following glitches recorded across many centres during the mock examination, JAMB rescheduled the test for affected candidates, which was held on 18 April. But the examination body said the mock examination was simply to confirm the readiness of the centres and that the hitches experienced were part of the learning process.
But on Tuesday, across many centres visited in both Lagos and Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT), there was relative peace and calm atmosphere as candidates applauded the process.
There were, however, some candidates who arrived late to the centres and were barred from taking part in the examination “based on the rules governing the conduct of the test.”
In Abuja, parents and candidates who spoke to our reporters said there was no delay in accrediting the candidates, except that candidates spent more time waiting to start in the halls.
At the Global Distance Learning Institute, adjacent to the Ministry of Finance in Abuja, parents were seen waiting for their wards who were either in the hall taking the tests or waiting for their turn to take the tests.
A parent seen waiting for her son, Fatima Lawal, said she brought the son to the centre almost an hour before 9 a.m. when he was scheduled to take the test.
At around 9 a.m., she said her son and others were accredited and allowed into the hall.
“We were here around a few minutes after 8 a.m. The time was 9 a.m. The crowd wasn’t as much as this, but they started taking them in when the ones inside started coming out,” she said.
By 11:45 a.m. when our reporter spoke to Mrs Lawal, her son and other candidates sitting for the 9 a.m. tests were still in the hall.
The JAMB administrator at the centre, identified simply as Mr Simon, refused to speak to journalists, saying he has no permission to speak.
However, another parent, Hemen Desmond, claimed the candidates who were to take the test by 9 a.m. did not start early.
“Around 11 a.m., I asked the security man and he told me that they (candidates) are about to start. What I know is that they did accreditation around 9 a.m. but around 11 a.m., they told us that they were about to start, which means that they did not start on time.”
However, at exactly 12:00 p.m., the students were asked to line up for accreditation.
Technical hitches at GSS Zone
Meanwhile, at the Dantata Universal Services, Government Secondary School, GSS, Zone 3, candidates scheduled to start by noon were accredited at around 12:57 p.m.
One of the candidates identified simply as Esther said the candidates scheduled for 9 a.m. went into the hall at around 10:26 a.m.
One of the supervisors at the centre, Victoria Ebute, confirmed to our reporter that the slight delay was a result of a technical hitch. She, however, said the hitch was not from the centre but from JAMB.
“We had three sessions, the first one was for eight. The one that was supposed to start by 11 a.m we had a little challenge so it started by 12 p.m,” she said.
At the Lagooz Schools, Orile Agege and Perfect Angels CBK Centre, Oko Oba, Abule Egba, in Lagos there were candidates who didn’t show up for the exams while some missed it because they arrived at the centres late.
A JAMB official, Amina Egberoungbe, who was on hand at Lagooz School, told PREMIUM TIMES that “15 candidates did not sit for the first batch of the examination while other candidates arrived late.”
She reiterated that latecomers are automatically marked as being absent from the examination.
She said apart from Sunday, the school accommodates 250 candidates per batch for the examination which has been scheduled to hold in three batches per day until next week Monday.
Mrs Egberoungbe, however, commended the centre for recording no technical hitch and for what she described as a coordinated process.
PREMIUM TIMES observed that the process was more organised at the centre with a clean environment, while many canopies and chairs were provided for parents who accompanied their children and wards to the centre.
Meanwhile, one of the candidates who arrived at the centre late, Misturah Qosim, said she resided in the Ipaja area of the city and pleaded with the examination body for reconsideration of her matter.
The candidate said: “We left Ipaja as early as 5a.m and when the bus developed a fault, we opted for another one only for us to be delayed further by the traffic.
“When we arrived at 7:30 am, I tried to explain to them and pleaded for reconsideration but I was told to go home”.
Also, an official at Perfect Angel CBT Centre, who craved anonymity, said about six candidates arrived at the centre late.
Some candidates who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES said the examination process was seamless, while a candidate, who identified herself simply as Blessing, said her computer had a slight issue but was immediately fixed.
Meanwhile, a student identified as Samuel Bamiduro who was scheduled for the 9 a.m. batch at Lagooz schools developed a health challenge shortly before the examination.
He was unconscious for more than 15 minutes before two other male candidates assisted him to the accreditation hall around 9:05 a.m.
At WAEC Testing and Training Centre 1 and 2, in Ogba, parents and candidates were made to wait outside the premises despite its proximity to the main road.
A WAEC official prevented our reporter from speaking to the candidates or accessing the premises.