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Oyo to punish teachers over illegal fees collection

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Oyo to punish teachers over illegal fees collection

The Chairman of the Oyo State Universal Basic Education Board, Nureni Adeniran, on Thursday, warned teachers in the state against the collection of illegal levies in public schools, saying any errant staff caught would be punished.

This is coming on the heels of reports that some errant teachers compelled pupils to pay for the ongoing second term unified promotion examination for public primary schools.

Adeniran, who gave this warning while monitoring the examination exercise in Ibadan, the state capital, said the present administration has been responsible for the printing of question-and-answer sheets for its unified examination exercise since inception of the current government.

He explained that the government had ensured the examination timetable was adhered to by all schools in the state.

The chairman said, “The government cancelled the payment of fees by pupils and students in public, because it discovered that some errant staff imposed illegal fees in some areas. I, therefore, want to advice parents and guardians to report any case of collection of illegal fees to the board.

“Let me begin by apologising to parents and guardians whose pupils were forced to bring money for examinations. This is not from the board, and I will appeal to such parents to report the teachers to the board. The government has ensured that all necessary arrangements are put in place for a hitch free examination exercise. We paid for the printing and delivery of question and answer sheets.

“We are committed to the free and compulsory universal basic education, hence, no school or head teacher found imposing or collecting any levy not approved by government, will go unpunished.”

Adeniran said Governor Seyi Makinde had been regular in the payment of the state counterpart fund with the Universal Basic Education Commission, adding that the board access its funds and use them to develop infrastructure and capacity of personnel.

He also commended the smooth conduct of examination in the centres visited.

The Schools visited on Tuesday were, Community Basic School 1&2, Olorunsogo; Community Primary School, Olosunde; Atolu Model School 1-4, Oremeji; among others, while the schools visited today (Thursday) include, UAMC School, Eleja, Odo-Ona; AUD Primary School; UMC Basic School, Oke-Ado; Abiola Jacobs Schools 1,2,3; and Army Children School, Iwo-road.

 

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Education

2024 UTME: Father apprehended for writing exam for son

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The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board has revealed that two suspects, a father and his son, were arrested for their alleged involv

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board has revealed that two suspects, a father and his son, were arrested for their alleged involvement in impersonation during the 2024 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination.

This was just as the Board added that no fewer than 1.94 million candidates sat for the 2024 examinations across the country.

The JAMB Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, made this known to newsmen shortly after monitoring the exam at the Kaduna State University CBT Centre, Kaduna, on Wednesday.

The JAMB boss refrained from disclosing the identities of the parent and their child, as well as the location of the reported malpractice.

He said, “For those who engage in cheating, they should know that it does not pay.

“The technology is helping us to check that.

“Across the country, most of the problem we have is impersonation. For instance, now, we say we have NIN, we now have cases of people with two NINs and therefore that has defeated the purpose of identity verification.

“We are going to take that up with NIMC that there are people who have two NINs.

“We have a case of a father impersonating his son, writing an examination for the son and I wonder, are you not destroying your son’s future?

“Of course, two of them are now in custody. I can’t understand what the father will now tell his son when they are both locked up in the same cell.

“This happened definitely not in Kaduna, but I don’t want to disclose the state.

“So, it is largely cases of impersonation, but we are ahead of them; we are just picking them up like chicken now because the facilities are there for us to see what they are doing and to pick them up.”

He noted that at the end of the examination today, there would be less than 100,000 candidates remaining in Lagos, Benue and other states in the country.

He added that JAMB’s improved technology made the exercise smoother and faster.

“Today, I have seen something which we need to improve on, but most importantly, we have done so many things in the background to make the exercise faster, more efficient and better. We have increased the level of automation.

“This year, 1.94 million candidates are writing UTME. By the end of today, we would have less than 100,000 remaining.

“By the end of today, what will be remaining will be Lagos, Makurdi and other few places in the country,” he added.

Meanwhile, the JAMB Registrar also commended parents for their behaviour during the conduct of the 2024 UTME exercise, noting that there was no parent intrusion, unlike the previous year when some parents flocked to the various computer-based centres during the exams.

“There is no report this year of parents intruding, except in one state. In that state, they felt that since the first session failed, their children should not continue with the second or other sessions,” he added.

Oloyede also used the opportunity to inform those who have missed the exam, for reasons not caused by the examination body, to forget about it, saying that JAMB cannot spend tens of millions of the nation’s resources to reorganise a session for a few candidates who missed the exams due to their personal recklessness.

“Most of those candidates who missed the UTME are students from hostels who were made to register through schools because of the money the schools want to collect from the parents in the name of JAMB.

“They would now put 30 students in one bus. They will now be dropping them off in different locations. By the time they get to the last student’s centre, he is already late for the exam.

“You will now see the principal writing to me. What business do I have with a school?”, he asked.

 

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LAUTECH introduces six new degree programmes

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The acting Vice Chancellor of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, Prof Razaq Kalilu, has announced the

The acting Vice Chancellor of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, Prof Razaq Kalilu, has announced the introduction of an additional six new degree programmes for the institution.

Kalilu made this known while addressing the congregation at the grand finale of the 16th convocation ceremony of the university, held inside the Great Hall of the institution in Ogbomoso on Tuesday.

He stressed that the academic outlook of the institution was rapidly changing in its bid to fulfil the mandate of the university and the vision of its Visitor, Governor Seyi Makinde.

The VC said, “A year ago, the university established the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences with four academic programmes. This year, we have introduced six additional new degree programmes into that Faculty namely Psychology, Mass Communication, Linguistics, Yoruba, Theatre Arts, and Political Science. A Faculty of Law has also been established to run a degree programme in law.

“All the seven newly introduced programmes have recently gone through Resource Verification, in March this year towards the National Universities Commission’s approval. We hope to admit students for these programmes in this current academic session as soon as we receive the clearance from the NUC.” He stated.

In his address, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council of the institution, Prof Ayodeji Omole charged the graduands to be good ambassadors for the university.

“As you receive your degrees, remember that you are not just graduates of LAUTECH, but ambassadors of knowledge, integrity, excellence, service and progress, all that your university stands for. Carry the torch of learning with pride and let your actions speak volumes about the calibre of education you have received.” Omole advised.

 

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JAMB to refund registration fees paid by candidates

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The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has announced that it will reimburse the fees paid for forms by visually-impaired

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has announced that it will reimburse the fees paid for forms by visually-impaired candidates of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) provided they meet certain criteria, according to a recent announcement made by the Board’s leadership.

This was announced by Prof. Olarenwaju Fagbohun, Lagos Coordinator for JAMB Equal Opportunity Group.

Olarenwaju, who previously served as the Vice-Chancellor of Lagos State University (LASU), made this statement on Monday at the Distance Learning Institute (DLI) of the University of Lagos, which is the 2024 UTME centre for visually-impaired candidates from Lagos and Ogun states.

He noted that out of the 88 registered candidates for the 2024 UTME at this center, 82 attended. He clarified that the refund will only apply to those visually-impaired candidates who achieved five ‘O’ Level credits in one sitting.

What he said
The coordinator said that the gesture is to encourage physically-challenge candidates.

According to him,

“I will like to give kudos to the Registrar of JAMB, Prof Is’haq Oloyede. .This year, he went a step further to return money paid by visually-challenged candidates for the purchase of their registration documents- those who scored five credits at one sitting.

“They were not supposed to have paid for the forms, but in a situation whereby they have already done that, their money will be returned to them here, today.

“The process is that the board, from the results uploaded by these candidates during registration for the examination, had already disaggregated all these and sent to all the centre coordinators nationwide.

“We have the list and the money already made available by the board, and the directive is that we must ensure that the concerned candidates get back their money immediately.

“We want them to know that they are Nigerians and that Nigeria recognises their roles and will want to harness their potential,” he said.

He said that the board is committed to finding ways to ensure that no Nigerian child is excluded from empowerment opportunities. He also noted that special examination is being held in 12 centers across the nation.

Previously, candidates were only allowed to listen as proctors read the questions aloud to them. However, this year, it was recognized that some candidates also wished to use braille to independently read and respond to questions.

Consequently, in addition to the ‘read aloud’ option, a ‘fully braille’ option has been introduced.

This new option involves printing the questions in braille so that candidates can use braille answer sheets to respond.

In preparation for this year’s exams, the organizers began contacting candidates assigned to the Lagos center at the Distance Learning Institute (DLI) of UNILAG one to two months in advance. Candidates were informed about their examination venue and advised to arrive at the center a day early with their guides to avoid any last-minute pressure.

“Before now, we allowed the candidates to just listen. The proctors will read aloud to them, but this year, we realised that some of them also want to use the braille and read on their own and then answer the questions.

“So, we, in addition to the option of ‘read aloud’ have also decided to introduce the option of ‘fully braille’.

“This means we will print questions on braille for the candidates and they will now use the braille answer sheets to answer the questions”.

He also said that the candidates were checked into hotels alongside their guides.

“They are being well taken care of, and whenever they will be returning to their respective destinations, they will be given transportation allowance,” he said.

Prof. Fagbohun, a specialist on Environmental Law, said that the candidates would be examined on various subjects, including Government, Arabic, Use of English, Mathematics, and Biology, among others.

 

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Education

National fraud: How TETFund pays N2.9 billion to contractor for unexecuted job – Report

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Five days before the end of the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) –

Five days before the end of the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) – a tertiary institutions funding agency under the Federal Ministry of Education (FME) – surreptitiously awarded a contract worth over N3.8 billion (N3,812,500,000) in disregard for the law.

Without any evidence of execution of the contract, investigations by PREMIUM TIMES revealed, the agency paid the contractor a total sum of N2.9 billion (N2,932,032,516.28) in four installments between 30 June and 17 November 2023.

In violation of the law establishing it, TETFund sourced the funding for the project from the 2023 annual direct disbursement budget domiciled in the agency for the use of about 251 beneficiary institutions, that is, public universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education across Nigeria.

The 2023 direct disbursement budget for these institutions which amounted to N15.2 billion was for Information Communication and Technology Intervention Projects. But instead of releasing the funds to the institutions as mandated by law, TETFund illegally deducted upfront 50 per cent of the funds from each of the institutions, amounting to a total of N7.6 billion.

PREMIUM TIMES found no evidence of bidding for the contract as demanded by Nigeria’s procurement law. There was also no approval from the Federal Executive Council (FEC) or even by the President. TETFund bypassed these mandatory requirements to award the contract tagged: ‘Capacity Building Certificate Course (Communication, Entrepreneurship, and Productive Skill Development) inclusive of the Train-the-Trainer programme for 502 (five hundred and two) participants’.

The contract was awarded to a company – Fides Et Ratio Academy.

The company, which has no functional website, is described by TETFund as “an IP Licensee for Prof. Klaus Stierstorfer, a copyright owner and intellectual property right holder in all range of communication skills development courses marketed globally under Edunet Solutions.”

The letter of contract award dated 24 May 2023 was signed by the Director of Human Resources and General Administration, Kolapo Okunlola.

But in its response to PREMIUM TIMES inquiry on the subject, the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), the body statutorily empowered to regulate contract awards for ministries, departments, and agencies of the government, said “the contract is not found in its database.”

The contract award is therefore a violation of the Public Procurement Act 2007, which by virtue of its section 15(a), is applicable to “all procurement of goods, works and services carried out by: the Federal Government of Nigeria and all procurement entities”. The law under section 15(c) only exempts the procurement of special goods, works and services involving national defence or national security.

But on 30 June 2023, the company’s account with Fidelity Bank Plc was credited with over N550 million (N550,380,780.23) by the Central Bank of Nigeria on behalf of TETFund. The transfer is with mandate number CBN/PROJ/224/JUN2023. Over N820 million (N820,223,850) was additionally paid into the account on 12 July 2023.

On 26 July 2023 and 17 November 2023, the sums of N1.5 billion (N1,503,743,850) and N62.68 million (N62,684,036.05) were credited into the account by the CBN on behalf of TETFund, respectively.

About contract
In its efforts to justify the contract, TETFund said it found out that the greatest challenges working against universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education’s quest to address the declining rate in employment and productivity of the Nigerian graduates “is their inability to engage in increasing capacity building and training for their students.”

This, it said, is due to “the decreasing internal and external budgetary support as a result of the global economic recession and the rising cost of face to face training needed to satisfy the commercial, industrial and technological needs of the country.”

The agency also said it identified skills gap in academics “as a major impediment in grooming their students in communication, entrepreneurship, and productive skill development.”

Therefore, TETFund said the capacity-building courses would help students gain skills in interpersonal communication, public speaking, conflict resolution, and team building.

“In addition to this, the capacity building programme is aimed at deepening the ICT staff, other officials, and students’ capacity in communication, entrepreneurship, and productive skill development,” the agency said.

Remarkably, TETFund’s reply to PREMIUM TIMES’ inquiry was a verbatim regurgitation of the grounds contained in the proposal submitted to the agency by the contractor.

“In view of the foregoing, beneficiary institutions nominated two (2) ICT staff to be trained under the Train-The-Trainer capacity building programme and a minimum number of Two million students from all the Beneficiary Institutions for three (3) online certification courses that will qualify an individual for the International Certificate of General Communication Skills and the International Certificate of Advanced Communication Skills. The student online courses and Train-The-Trainer programme will thereby expose a larger number of participants in the public tertiary institutions to in-depth communication, entrepreneurship, and productive skill development to attract the following benefits…,” TETFund wrote in its letter to PREMIUM TIMES dated 25 March.

The letter, referenced: TETF/LBS/EC/12/Vol. V, was signed on behalf of the Executive Secretary, Sonny Echnonu, by the Head of Legal Unit, Khalil Abdul.

When asked about its legitimacy to train students of the institutions directly, TETFund told PREMIUM TIMES that it is empowered to “carry out capacity building programmes for our beneficiary institutions.”

No contract executed
We asked TETFund to provide evidence for the execution of the contract, including the list of participants, links to the online portal for the training, and pictures or video clips of training sessions.

In its response to this question, the agency simply said “the programmes are still ongoing.”

The agency in its letter also said it received presidential approval for the contract, but also failed to provide this in its communication to the newspaper.

However, findings from the various institutions also indicated that no participant has been drawn among the students while ICT directors said they kicked against the idea when it was mooted.

Investigations by PREMIUM TIMES further revealed that in 2023, across the six geopolitical zones, TETFund officials, accompanied by the promoter of the company awarded the contract, Paul Chukwuma, met with ICT directors of the beneficiary institutions.

“Yes, we had a meeting based on geo-political zones but that could not be said to be any training for us. It was a dialogue on improving the ICT infrastructure on our campuses and improving our staff skills. Nothing more transpired,” one of the ICT directors in one of the institutions, who does not want to be named to avert retribution for speaking to the media on a sensitive issue without permission, told this newspaper.

Funding sourced illegally
In a memo addressed to all vice-chancellors, rectors and provosts, dated 16 June 2023 and signed by the Director of ICT, Joseph Odo, TETFund said all beneficiary institutions of ICT support intervention allocations should make a “written commitment to participate in the Training-The-Trainer (TTT) prgramme using 50 per cent of the ICT Support Intervention Fund (N50 million for universities, N25 million for polytechnics and colleges of education) set aside for ICT converged services.”

TETFund also directed the institutions to nominate 12 participants to be trained on the capacity development and technology support programme, and should “commit to pay the 12 participants cost of travel, DTA for five days and other costs to be paid by TETFund using the 50 per cent ICT Support Intervention Allocation domiciled in the Fund.”

The letter added: “Note that the Fund will calculate the course fees based on the distribution of participants per geographical zone and deduct the same from your institution’s allocation for the converged services using the 50 per cent of the 2023 ICT support Intervention set aside.”

PREMIUM TIMES, however, learnt that most of the tertiary institutions concerned ignored TETFund, insisting that the agency does not have the power to engage a private organisation or school to train either their staff or students on any subject. But TETFund went ahead to deduct the fund and paid the contractor, using the fund without the approval of either the tertiary institutions or the Presidency.

Contract not in our database – BPP
In its letter dated 2 April, addressed to PREMIUM TIMES, and signed by the Director of Compliance, Certification and Monitoring, Isaiah Yesufu, the Bureau of Public Procurement, denied any knowledge of the contract award.

The letter, referenced BPP/S.1/CCM/24/Vol.1/069, said: “The Bureau wishes to state that there is no information in its database pertaining to the projects you referenced in your letter which according to you were approved/awarded by TETFund in May, 2023…”

The agency commended the newspaper for contacting it, and pledged its support in its commitment to ensuring probity and accountability.

Companies keep mum
Both Fides Et Ratio Academy and Edunet Solutions have refused to respond to inquiries by PREMIUM TIMES on the matter.

A personal website of 46-year-old Paul Chukwuma, who described himself as an entrepreneur, lists Fides Et Ratio Academy as one of the eight institutions or companies reportedly owned by him.

Other institutions said to be owned by Mr Chukwuma are Fides et Ratio Limited, Fibelle and Mibelle Limited, Humble Rock Limited, Humble Rock Iron and Steel Limited, Paclean Energy Resources Limited, Olivia Hotels, and Olivia University.

But efforts to get Mr Chukwuma’s response to this newspaper’s inquiries were unsuccessful as he neither picked calls to his known mobile telephone number nor replied to messages delivered to his line as SMS and via his WhatsApp number.

PREMIUM TIMES made futile efforts to locate the office of the contractor, Fides Et Ratio Academy, at their stated address, Plot 493, Abogo Largema Street, CBD, Abuja, on Monday. Within the vicinity are the World Trade Centre, Church Gate Building and the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution which occupies Plot 496 on the street but the company could not be located there.

Credit: PREMIUM TIMES

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Obasanjo tells Tinubu: Include private universities into student loan scheme

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo did not mince his words during the inauguration of the Asiwaju Onafowokan, Coleman Wires and Cables

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo did not mince his words during the inauguration of the Asiwaju Onafowokan, Coleman Wires and Cables building at Bells University’s College of Postgraduate Studies in Ota, Ogun State, as unequivocally called upon the federal government to include students in private universities as beneficiaries in the Student Loan Scheme.

In his opinion, this measure would ensure that students in private universities are not disadvantaged and can access the same opportunities as their counterparts in public universities.

“The Vice Chancellor has spoken about the need to include students in private universities as beneficiaries of the Student Loan Scheme. I urge the government to listen to that and take heed to include them too. I doubt if the scheme will be run without corruption, that is another matter entirely, ” he said.

Obasanjo, the proprietor of Bell University of Technology, opined that the loan scheme was crucial to the development of the society and the welfare of the citizens and that excluding a group of people would be counter-productive.

Earlier, the Vice Chancellor of Bell University of Technology, Prof. Jeremiah Ojediran, had pleaded for the inclusion of private universities’ students in the scheme.

“That is how they excluded students in private universities from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and the recent decision to exclude them from the student’s loan scheme is unfair. These decisions were out of touch with the current realities of the society and the expectations of the people.

“Many parents struggle to keep their children enrolled in schools, whether public or private, due to the economic downturn in the country,” he said.

Recall that the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Education Loan Fund, NELFUND, Mr Akintunde Sawyerr, had last week told media men that students in private institutions would not benefit from the loan scheme, at least for now.

His argument was that it was a programme for social re-engineering and redistribution of wealth meant to assist the poor in the society.

According to Sawyerr, though parents of students in private institutions are also tax payers from which fund for the scheme is sourced, they should not be seen as being in the same financial conditions as many parents of students in public schools.

Also, fees paid in private schools are quite higher than what obtains in public ones, he said.

 

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Underage students causing problems in varsities, says minister

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The Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, announced that the Federal Government is currently considering setting 18 years as the minimum

The Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, announced that the Federal Government is currently considering setting 18 years as the minimum age for admission into universities and other tertiary institutions of learning.

During his visit to monitor the ongoing Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination in Abuja, Mamman noted that some of the problems encountered in higher institutions are caused by underage students.

While urging parents not to push their children too hard, the minister emphasized the importance of allowing students to attain some level of maturity before managing their affairs.

“The other thing which we notice is the age of those who have applied to go to the university. Some of them are too young. We are going to look at it because they are too young to understand what a university education is all about,” said the minister.

“That’s the stage when students migrate from a controlled environment where they are in charge of their affairs. So if they are too young, they won’t be able to manage properly. That accounts for some of the problems we are seeing in the universities.

“We are going to look at that. 18 is the entry age for university but you will see students, 15, and 16, going to the examination. It is not good for us. Parents should be encouraged not to push their wards, or children too much.”

The minister who applauded the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board for a seamless examination process, noted that the adoption of technology had helped in reducing the cases of examination practices.

“Right from screening to those who are here…the examination process is seamless. The environment is comfortable for students. That’s how it should be, especially the use of technology in our affairs and the educational system. It makes life easy for everybody and seamless.

“As we know this examination is going on throughout the country. It is being monitored everywhere seamlessly and from the report I have heard, the malpractice level is very low. Just a 100 out of the 1.2m. It has gone down drastically and believe that it is the use of technology that has made that happen so this is very good.”

Commenting on the high number of candidates seeking admission into the limited slots available in tertiary institutions, Mamman maintained that skills acquisition remains a critical component in preparing the youths for a brighter future.

“It is not a question of being employed but how many will be admitted from this set. I think the figure overall on average is about 20 per cent; universities, polytechnics and colleges of education.

“The question you ask is where are the 80 percent? They are our children, our wards living with us. This is why the issue of skills acquisition is important because any student who is not able to proceed to tertiary education should be able to have a meaningful life even after secondary school, even primary education.

“The only solution to that is skills; by taking skills right from the time they entered school, for the primary right through the educational trajectory. Somebody should finish with one skill or another. That is part of the assumption of the 6-3-3-4.

“It is assumed that by the time a student finishes up to the JSS level, he will have acquired some skills. If he does not proceed to the senior secondary level, he will have acquired some skills that will help him navigate life and cease to be a burden on his parents and society.

“That’s why this skill is just the most important skill for us now that we are going to drive through the education sector for both public and private sector to empower the young ones.”

The Minister of State for Education, Dr Tanko Sununu who was excited the UTME was also ongoing in Saudi Arabia as a result of the standards set by JAMB’s management, noted that the examination has transcended to a very high level of objectivity and reliability of results.

“Right from when the candidates arrive, they would be seated comfortably in the waiting room, screening and other necessary instructions will be given and they will proceed to do biometrics.

“There are some instructions that will be pushed that even if you are just coming into contact with a computer for the first time, provided you have been using the handset or smartphone, that will properly guide you to have access.

“One of the major things I see here, which is a major characteristic of online exams, is the speed. The speed in the centre is excellent; pages are turned when candidates need them without any delay in booting.

“Also in the exam, there are lots of steps to prevent examination malpractice, adjacent candidates will be taking different subjects and even when you are answering the same questions, question number one will be different from question number two from the next person.

The standard of the exam is commendable. I am not surprised that JAMB has to go outside Nigeria to go to other countries to conduct exams, they were in Saudi Arabia and right now the exam is also going (on) in Saudi Arabia.

“I have not heard people complaining of answers leaked, it shows that with online exams we can do a lot.”

The standard admission age currently set by most tertiary institutions in the country is 16 years a candidate is certified as gifted.

In 2021, the Senate announced plans to amend the law establishing the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, to limit the age of a candidate sitting the UTME to 16 years and above.

The then Vice-Chairman of, the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Senator Akon Eyakenyi, indicated during the committee’s oversight visit to JAMB, said this would prevent under-aged candidates from participating in the examination to gain admission into universities in Nigeria.

 

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