The young lad was reacting to an information passed on to him last Wednesday by his science teacher. The latter had said that in the next two years, all examinations conducted by the West African Examinations Council and National Examinations Council would be computer-based.
The expression on Akinyemi’s face betrayed his helplessness. Of course, he had every reason to show this concern, knowing that the school lacked the needed infrastructure for the plan. Except, if miracle happens.
Prior to the latest government directive on the Computer- Based Testing, Akinyemi knew that his school had no electricity, just as it lacked basic laboratory equipment. Indeed, before now, its science-based pupils were struggling to carry out their practical tests in subjects like Biology, Chemistry and Physics, especially as the only functional generator in the school works in fits and starts.
No wonder the plan to start the CBT in 2015 across the country is of major concern to him. Akinyemi is not alone in this dilemma. Many other stakeholders and analysts are worried about how the Federal Government’s proposed policy is going to work, not with the challenge of electricity and other infrastructure deficits in the country.
Although many of them argue that the FG’s move is a worthy one, particularly with the pursuit for new technologies across the globe, they note that the country is not yet ripe for the exercise. According to an educationist, Mr. Olanrewaju Ogunkola, the country has a long way to go in making this move achievable.
Ogunkola, who is the Principal of African Church Model College, Lagos, says, “There are many questions that are begging for answers in the implementation of this policy. How many schools have computers?
“Has computer education in Nigeria been so widespread to the stage that pupils will begin to take their examination on computer? How constant is the electricity, which is a major component to drive the process?
“How prepared are the examination bodies themselves? This does not mean that I do not support the idea. But there are things that must be sorted, so that we can have a seamless process.”
Sharing Ogunkola’s view, the Proprietress, Tofek Schools, Lagos, Mrs. Temitope Odutola, notes that since the country is still grappling with the challenge of having constant power supply, conducting such computer-based testing will require the owners of the schools relying on generators.
According to her, many schools and their pupils still lack basic facilities like furniture, not to talk of having access to computers.
She adds, “I am not against such a novel idea. But having said that, the government must be reminded that there are many issues to be tackled before the introduction of CBT. Some schools do not have furniture and some do not have functional libraries, how much more having computers. These are areas that the government must look into before introducing the CBT.”
However, another educationist, Mr. Kayode Odusola, disagrees with Ogunkola and Odutola, noting that the ICT revolution is already on across the globe. According to him, given the convergence on the usage of hand-held phones and tablets, the CBT will be the icing on the cake.
Odusola, who wants the government to put order into the system, also urges WAEC and NECO to involve all stakeholders as well as carry out enough enlightenment campaigns on the initiative.
He adds, “The days of analogue telephones are gone. All schools must realise that computer literacy is necessary, if only they want to grow. Almost every Nigerian is aware of the computer. The handset held by a market woman has keys, which she punches to make her call.
“The pupils in primary and secondary schools also must have come in contact with the telephones. The computer also has keys. So, what the government needs to do is to ensure order through the regulation.
Again, the introduction of e-examination must be gradual. All the stakeholders must be ready, and they must key into it.”
Odusola has an ally in the Principal of King’s College, Lagos, Mr. Oladele Olapeju. Pupils of the college, he says, are even being prepared to begin to take their internal examination on CBT.
He says, “The country cannot afford to lag behind in the area of ICT. In fact, at King’s College, we are set for computer-based testing; we have just been given sets of computers by a corporate organisation.
“Although electricity may pose a challenge, we must begin to look at other sources of generating power.”
However, reacting to the challenges, the WAEC Public Relations Officer, WAEC, Mr. Ari Yusuf, says owners of the schools will bear cost of facilities to support the process The Council’s part of the bargain, he says, is to prepare the questions, provide supervisors, conduct the examination and collate the results.
He explains, “It is a government’s policy that from 2015, all examination bodies, including WAEC will begin to conduct their exams on computer-based testing. So, the schools must provide their computers and all other things to make the process efficient.
“Anytime they want CBT, WAEC is prepared. It is a huge thing because there are 15,000 secondary schools. In the last May/June WAEC exam, 1.7million candidates sat for it. Moreover, it is not a one off thing that happens in one day like JAMB, it extends into months, because it involves both theory and practical.”
Efforts made to reach the NECO management were abortive and calls made to the telephone numbers on their website did not go through. The council also did not acknowledge the mail sent to it on the issue.
But a senior official in the council, who pleaded anonymity, says the CBT concept, was broached at a meeting sometimes last year. He, nonetheless, adds, “Concrete decisions have yet to be taken on it.”