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The 2020 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination started nationwide on a poor note on Saturday, particularly in some centres in Lagos and Abuja due to power and network failures, investigations by Sunday PUNCH revealed.
Some candidates in a few Computer-Based Test centres in Lagos State, scheduled for 7am, were seen crying as they could not take the exam until 1pm.
They became more tearful, after they went in and reportedly wrote two or three papers, during which some of the computers went off.
Our correspondent learnt that the Virtual Private Network, which transmits the questions from the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, failed in a handful of those centres, leading to anxiety among candidates and parents.
At the Darman Model College, Satellite Town area of Lagos, candidates said about 31 of them affected by the network failure were asked to write down their names and that the board would get back to them.
The candidates, some having written only two papers, expressed fears that they might suffer for what was not their making.
A candidate, Abdulaziz Shuaibu, said, “I was supposed to write my paper by 7am, but I started after 1pm. And when we started, the system shut down halfway. About 31 of us were affected. Kindly help us to intervene in this matter.”
A parent, Mr Akinboyegbe Marcus, said he left Ikotun area of Lagos as early as 6am but that his son, scheduled to take the exam by 9am, had not taken it as of 2pm when he spoke with our correspondent.
He said, “My son was supposed to sit the exam by 9am, but as I speak with you, he hadn’t started. Those scheduled for 7am had not written. There is anxiety as I speak with you. About 215 of them had not written as of 2pm that I am talking to you.
“Parents are very worried because nobody is talking to us. Some of the candidates cry out of the CBT hall, saying they were not able to take all the papers before the computers went off. Some did two; some three and some took one.
“I don’t know how JAMB approved this centre. Inside the rain, we came here for the exam. It is very bad.”
Another parent, Akinlabi Felix, said, “The UTME is not going on well here. A lot of candidates cured here. They were not able to take the examination. About 20 of them did two papers but the system went off when they wanted to take the third paper.
“Some of them were crying that their career had been destroyed. We want JAMB to intervene in this matter.”
Meanwhile in Abuja, our correspondent, who monitored the examination at the Ade-Ola International School CBT Centre, Kubwa, observed that parents protested at the school gates because of the failure of the VPN.
Candidates scheduled for 7am could not take the examination until after 1pm as parents struggled at the gates to seek explanation from the school authorities.
When our correspondent visited around 12pm, some JAMB officials had arrived and were reportedly working on the systems.
Some of the parents, who arrived at the centre as early as 6am, told our correspondent that the candidates were both famished and exhausted, having sat in the hall for hours without doing anything.
A parent, who identified himself as Mr Okodili, said he arrived at the venue with his son as early as 6.30am but that as of 2pm, nothing had started.
“Parents are protesting and we have called for JAMB officials to come and intervene,” he lamented. A candidate, Blessing Bitrus, said some of the candidates could not exhaust their two hours as they were pressurised to do the exam in a rush.
Meanwhile, protests by parents continued at the gate as of 2pm when our correspondent left as new candidates continued to arrive at the centre.
“We have been kept here for hours. The systems have not been working. We fear for these candidates because some of them are tired, mentally disturbed and famished already. The board should look into the inadequacies,” a parent, Ahmed Alli, said.
At the Global Distance Learning CBT centre, Central Area, and the Maitama Model School centre, which our correspondent also visited, the exam went well and there were no network issues.