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UNILAG’s post-UTME crisis

UNILAG’s post-UTME crisis
February 21
13:29 2021

BY JEROME-MARIO UTOMI

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Similar to every new invention which comes with opportunities and challenges, when candidates preparing for the University of Lagos post-UTME got the news about the university’s management decision to allow candidates write the test from any location of their choice, it elicited two sets of reactions.

For a better understanding of the piece, UTME stands for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), a computer-based standardised examination for prospective undergraduates in Nigeria, designed to assess the problem-solving, critical thinking knowledge of each student.

For some, joy flashed on their faces. They and their parents were particularly happy because such a development will assist in saving both time and resources for the student that resides outside Lagos state. Chiefly, It will save parents from inherent discomforts and risks associated with travelling on Nigerian roads which includes but not limited to; road mishaps, armed robbery attacks and kidnapping.

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To the rest, the development was viewed with skepticism and fears. The crux of their fears is that the well-thought-out programme and intention will be destroyed by what they called ‘the Nigerian factor’. These worries were given a boost and further fed by arguments which bothered on lackadaisical and nonchalant attitude to work by an average Nigerian civil servant-and inability of regulators to go extra miles to ensure that the given assignments are perfectly executed.

But, looking at the gamut of complaints within few days into the exercise, of how unreliable, inefficient/effective the Unilag online portal has become as it randomly shut out students without prompting or recourse to stipulated time, coupled with highhandedness, lackadaisical and nonchalant attitude of the staff, and other instincts coming from the candidates, the fears raised earlier by some can no longer be described as unfounded but a word made flesh and now dwells among us.

For those that hitherto praised the initiative, such eulogy has like light faded, and jeer has since overtaken the cheers while hatred for the initiative, and fears about what becomes the admission fate of their children looms.

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They have come to the conclusion that as an unchained and uncontrolled torrent of water submerges whole countrysides and devastates crops, even so, has the UNILAG online post-UTME serves but to destroy student’s ambition, serve them with bleak admission opportunity and cause dropping spirits among parents. As a matter of fact, each passing day at the university brings more evidence that the school is facing serious administrative emergencies-that demand immediate actions.

Out of many, this piece will accommodate ‘testimonies’ from three affected candidates to assist the university management look inward, reflect critically on their own role, and identify the ways they often advertently or inadvertently contribute to the problems and then change how they act by addressing the present debacle.

Going by their accounts, at about 11am on Tuesday, February 15, one of the candidates, a male, (name withheld) arrived at a business centre located somewhere around the Ketu part of Lagos. He got connected via the system to the Unilag portal as a signal was established. After the preliminary protocols, the system electronically generated the first subject. And he gladly and promptly attempted questions one and two. As he was expecting the number three question, what he got to his greatest surprise was a message from the portal signaling that he exited the examination page/sheet.

The experience of the second candidate was not quite different from the first. Everything started very fine but at about the seventh minute into the journey, the portal for inexplicable reasons got him disconnected.

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But if these accounts are considered a challenge, the experience of the third candidate is a crisis.

First, he successfully logged into the school portal and just immediately, he got a message ordering him to remove his earpiece which he promptly complied with. And in a matter of seconds, another instruction popped at the portal directing him to remove his face cap. As he raised his right hand to comply with this second directive, the next message that followed, to his greatest dismay, was that he had exited the examination portal. These are verifiable facts.

These discomforting accounts, aside from being a reality Nigeria and Nigerian must worry about, will necessitate the posers as to; how many of the youths in Nigeria would be affected? Who will stop Unilag from this disappointing arrangement? And who will be the judge? Or must we allow this injustice like good and evil to go on together allowing our nation to reap whatever fruit that comes in the nearest future?
Certainly, it is our collective responsibility to ensure that our schools work and our children properly educated at the right time. But in this particular case, if the University of Lagos management and other concerned arms of government fail to do the needful, it will again dispatch another sign of a nation unmindful of the fact that our children enjoy the right to education as recognised by a number of international conventions, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which recognises a compulsory primary education for all, an obligation to develop secondary education accessible to all, as well as the progressive introduction of free higher education/obligation to develop equitable access to higher education.

We must not also fail to remember that very recently, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in line with its mandate to promote and protect human rights has established the right to education as a thematic area of focus to drive its vision of having all children enrolled in school as well as to ensure that the culture of human rights is promoted and maintained in schools.

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Certainly, this piece holds the opinion that they (candidates) reserve the right to hold the nation and leaders alike accountable if they (government) fail to provide this traditional but universal responsibility to the citizenry which the instrumentality of participatory democracy and the election of leaders confer on them particularly now that their future/ civilisation is hanging in the balance as a result of such failures.

Another urgent reason why the school authority and of course the federal ministry of education must reassess this process and address the present injustice are the threat that keeping brilliant children on the waiting list for university admission for too long could pose to the nation. As idleness could make them take to the street. As we know, the streets are known for breeding all sorts of criminals and other social misfits who constitute the real threat such as armed robbers, thugs, drug abusers, drunkards, prostitutes and all other social ills that give a bad name to the society.

Ideally, this is not the best time to glut over the cost implication of organising fresh examination for these candidates as no amount of investment in the education sector will be considered too much. We also need to face the fact that the traditional progressive solution to societal problems is to redouble emphasis on education. This fact has made education an extremely valuable strategy for solving many of society’s ills. In an age where information has more economic value than ever before, it is obvious that education should have a higher national priority.

As Nigerians and the watching world await Unilag’s decision, If we do nothing about this, it simply means our youths/nation by extension are faced with a bleak future. But then, one point to remember is that bringing a radical improvement or achieving sustainable development in a way that both protects the rights and opportunities of coming generations is overwhelmingly urgent, These teaming students are knowledge-hungry. What they innocently ask for is another opportunity for examination delivered in an environment that works.

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Utomi is the programme coordinator (media and policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA). He can be reached via [email protected]/08032725374.

9 Comments

  1. Tolu
    Tolu February 22, 08:10

    Good morning….
    I’m also a prospective candidate of UNILAG who got disconnected from the exam at an impromptu notice……
    I was wondering whether I did something wrong but this article proves that the problem came from the University’s server..
    I’ve written several emails to the school but to no avail I have gotten no reply

    Reply to this comment
  2. Emi
    Emi February 22, 09:06

    Are you encouraging exam malpractice Mr, please I wrote the exam, and before the exam all rules and regulations where given. Please don’t accuse the school ( unilag), those who experienced such things failed to obey the rules set by the school.

    Reply to this comment
    • Anate
      Anate February 22, 15:27

      My son also got disconnected and this was not even his fault at all. A command box popped up as he was able to start, he tried to click on cancel to no avail and he was immediately logged out of the site. Pls how does this mean he did not obey the [email protected] Emi.truely some candidates were lucky to successfully complete their test but that doesn’t imply that those who were not able to write theirs did something wrong.

      Reply to this comment
    • Oluku Thaddeus
      Oluku Thaddeus February 22, 18:32

      Good evening… I’m still one of the aspirants that wrote the exam, the listed problems here are not only the difficultes we experience while writing the exam, me particularly I’m to login by 9:30am, with welly equipped with all the necessary rules to obey, unfortunately i couldn’t login, i then ran to the nearest CBT center with the pressure involved, fortunately with few time I’m now able to login, trying to attempt the fifth question ❓ i was automatically loged out, trying to login again i couldn’t, I’m deeply scared after that , i can confidently say if i should be given the chance to write the exam on comfortable environment on like jamb, i can vividly say I’m sure of being admitted this year.

      Reply to this comment
    • Mama Tee
      Mama Tee February 22, 20:06

      My daughter wrote the exam and had no issue because she obeyed all the rules and regulations. Kindly use your platform to educate student on reading and understanding every instructions given before writing any exam. Thank you

      Reply to this comment
  3. Wizzy
    Wizzy February 22, 22:29

    Perhaps the author wasn’t privy to the rules and regulations prescribed in this article shared by the school.
    https://unilag.edu.ng/?p=7927

    While we strive to hold organisations accountable, we must not be quick to point accusing fingers.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Temi
    Temi February 23, 11:41

    While I sympathise with the Students who were unable to finish or were logged out, there were set rules for Students to follow. I, as a parent, was reading the rules as if I was the one to write the exam. One of the rules stated you should not put on fez cap,why would you disobey? Some students actually encountered network issues which could have been avoided if Unilag had done this exam in batches and in the school environment. I pray they attend to applicants who had genuine issues of been logged out indiscriminately as it would be very sad if a student who scored over 300 in Jamb could not get admission due to their system of organizing the Post UTME this year.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Esther
    Esther February 23, 23:39

    i was doing the exam when the server stopped working for 10 minutes, only for the server to start working remaining few minutes left

    Reply to this comment

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