Some called it the worst website they have ever visited or used, others a frustration while others a dilemma. Such are the description given to JAMB official website for online registration www.JAMB.org.ng prior to 2010. So when JAMB introduce JAMB UTME in 2010, stakeholders breath a sigh of relief thinking the new UTME will sanitize the online registration process.
This is more so when JAMB introduced a new website www.JAMButme.com. However, a careful analysis shows that the problem peculiar with the previous website also prevail on this new one. So, there was an expectation that JAMB will improve on the new site for JAMB UTME 2011.
Our expectation though was short-live has JAMB roll back to the old website for online registration. Not only do JAMB change back to www.JAMB.org.ng, they also change the interface. In the old interface, there are about five stages before registration is completed. This means these stages can be saved in case of network or server problem. That can save one the stress of starting all over. But the new interface is worse. The whole registration stages are on a page. That means after filling and previewing, if there is network problem, you have to start all over. That can be very frustrating.
Another problem applicant need to battle with is the introduction of biometric registration. JAMB is yet to tell us why they are collecting the thumb printing of candidates. At least this can not be to curb examination malpractices as in most cases it is classroom problem not registration problem. Unless JAMB comes out to tell us why they introduce the biometric registration, we see it as an opportunity to extort Nigerians of their hard earn money. There are many reasons to conclude this way. First, GSM networks are already taking biometric registration of users, and about 6billion naira has been approved for this in the NCC budget.
The biometric registration is one of the new service provided by Sidmach. Sidmach is the official company in charge of JAMB website development. Because of this monopoly, the company must have entered into an agreement with JAMB to use their platform to provide this service.
The introduction of biometric registration has also brought about additional challenges for applicants which include:
1) Fewer ISP Access: Before, one can process application on JAMB site using dial-up connection and other CDMA internet service providers in any part of the country. But with the new interface and introduction of biometric registration, the company said only broadband connection and other major internet providers i.e. MTN, GLO, ARTEL can access the website.
But, so far, these networks have also fail if one is using dial-up. Only few Nigeria cities are 3G enables. This means majority of cities, towns and villages will not be able to access and process JAMB. In many towns there are no cybercafe and if at all they may not be fast enough to access JAMB website.
2) Difficulties for those in Major Towns and Rural Areas: This development will translate into hardship for Nigerians. This means those in rural areas will have to travel to major cities to register. Because many of the applicants are teenagers, they will have to travel with their parents or elder ones. This involve risking of one’s life, additional cost of travelling and accommodation since it is difficult to complete the registration in a day.
3) High Cost of Registration: Before now, JAMB registration in usually N500 or less in many places. But now, the least one can get is N1000. In fact it is reported that in some centers they charge as much as N3000 to register for JAMB online. Many of these centers attributed this to the cost of getting the device fixed and the stress associated with filling the form. This means in the long run, the applicants and their parents/sponsors are at the receiving end.
So far, there are anxieties and frustration on the face of students who are trying to register for JAMB. This alone has had psychological effect on the students as they are already frustration before the exam.