As the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) presses ahead with the sale of forms for the 2021/2022 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and Direct Entry (DE), anxiety has heightened among parents who are afraid that many intending candidates may be denied the opportunity to write the examination or gain admission into tertiary institutions on account of JAMB’s insistence on NIN as requirement for the UTME/DE registration.
JAMB had, on Thursday, amidst hiccups experienced by candidates, banks, and other partners, postponed the commencement of registration for the 2021 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and Direct Entry (DE).
Reports had it that the postponement was necessitated by the inability of candidates to create their profiles for the exercise that was expected to last from Thursday, April 8, to Saturday, May 15.
JAMB’s Head of Media, Fabian Benjamin, said in a statement on Thursday that “the delay was caused by some unforeseen circumstances occasioned by our determined effort to have a NIN integration”.
Benjamin added: “This challenge is being resolved and once that is done, all processes shall commence.
“Candidates are, therefore, requested to exercise some patience. The process shall be up and running shortly for our advertisement to be rolled out so that candidates can begin the creation of a profile.”
Recall that JAMB had in 2020 suspended the enforcement of NIN as a condition for registration as candidates went through pains to get enlisted.
However, stakeholders have appealed to the board to look beyond integration of NIN and profile creation but consider the use of any registered SIM provided by candidates as the number for all matters relating to registration and admission processing.
Anthony Thomas, a parent, said: “It will be sad if my child is denied the opportunity to write the examination this year because of SIM card and NIN.
“Good, my child has a phone with a registered number in my name. Our children should not be made to go through pains in enrolling to study in a tertiary institution.
“The earlier the NIN integration and other teething challenges are resolved the better for the country and youths.
“JAMB ought to have gotten it right with the deployment of technology and other measures to reduce or eliminate examination malpractice.
“The board has done well, but it should be perfected.”
In his contribution, Sola Oluwadare of Skool Media Nigeria Limited, a firm poised to transform the process of teaching and learning in schools, homes, and communities, commended JAMB for the annual improvement in the deployment of technology for the registration and conduct of the UTME, saying this had prepared the Nigerian child for the inevitable global competitiveness.
He tasked the board to work assiduously with NIMC to make the exercise hassle-free.
He said: “A special window can be opened to warehouse yet to be linked SIMs on the portal to allow candidates to register for the exams after which the window will be used to link the NIN with the SIM.
“This should be worked out by the two bodies followed by public enlightenment nationwide.
“Technology is not a zero-sum process that is devoid of alternative solutions.
“The education of our children is paramount at this time, particularly having experienced a delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic and perennial industrial actions by the university unions.
“As an education infrastructure technology company, Skool Media Nigeria Limited will give its support to JAMB whenever it requires it to put our students on the right path that we will all be proud of.
“At Skool Media, we are committed to plugging the technology/ICT skill gaps in consonance with the emerging digital landscape of the 21st century on educational development.”
Sir Temple Ogueri Onyeukwu, Proprietor, Excellent Foundation College, Lagos, appealed to JAMB to think first before suspending the exercise.
“Suspending registration for UTME and making it compulsory for students to have NIN before they can register for UTME is misplaced.
“In the villages, there are no registration centres for NIN. No adequate arrangements have been made for the registration of students in their schools.
“JAMB is peculiarly Nigerian. Here most children writing the JAMB examination are between the ages of 15 years and 18 years.
“Most of them don’t own android phones. Where their parents can afford one, they are registered in the name of the parents,” he stated.
He said most schools do not permit students to go to school with phones due to distractions during lectures, saying that candidates writing the examination without NIN did not constitute security risk to the nation.
“JAMB, please, do not traumatise our children further. They already have enough from COVID-19 and the disruption in the academic calendar,” he added.
However, Fabian Benjamin, could not be reached to confirm a report credited to the JAMB Registrar, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, on the issue of SIM cards for candidates.
The Registrar, who was reported to have spoken on the sidelines of a meeting with Computer Based Test (CBT) centre owners and other stakeholders recently, in Abuja, allegedly said: “Any telephone number used by applicants to send the NIN automatically becomes the number for all JAMB transactions with the candidate.”
The board had in the latest of its bulletin emphasised the imperative of NIN in the 2021/22 UTME/DE.
According to the board, “It is undeniable that one of the principal reasons for ensuring strict adherence to the directive of the Federal Government on the use of the National Identity Number (NIN) by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and other critical MDAs is to address multiple national challenges bordering on the security of lives and property, among others.
“It would be recalled that the board, having realised earlier on the importance of NIN, had called for its adoption even before the general directive.
“As such, before the 2020 UTME/DE, the board had concluded all arrangements to use the NIN for its UTME/ DE registration exercise, but owing to some minor hitches, it could not proceed with the process but gave the nation sufficient notice that it would be a major part of the 2021/22 exercise.
“For those who know that the board walks its talk, they ensured that their wards were registered for the NIN in preparation for the exercise.”