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JAMB vs Cyber Café Operators: Cyber Café owners drags JAMB to the National Assembly over registration restriction

The Association of Educational Services and Cyber Café
Operators (AESCCO) has written to the Senate in protest of the recent
restriction of applicants’ registration for the Unified Tertiary
Matriculation Examination (UTME) by the Joint Admissions and
Matriculation Board (JAMB) to only Computer Based Test (CBT) centres
approved by the board.

In a letter addressed to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on
Ethics, Code of Conduct and Public Petitions, AESCCO described the
policy, announced by JAMB on its website, as constituting discrimination
against cyber cafés run by small and medium scale owners in favour of
JAMB-accredited CBT centres owned by big-time businessmen.  Dated 6
March and signed Mr. Femi Aborisade, lawyer to AESCCO, the letter stated
that though the association agrees with the policy’s underlying
principle of establishing standards for UTME venues, it disagrees with
JAMB ‘s desire to commodify the process by handing a huge advantage to
wealthy owners of JAMB-accredited CBT centres. The association said its
disagreement with the new policy stems from its exclusionary nature.

“UTME applicants should be allowed to register for the examination
from their individual computer units and/or those owned by their parents
and guardians rather than be compelled to patronize CBT centres. Where
some individual applicants do not have their own computer units, such
applicants should be allowed to exercise the freedom to patronize either
a CBT centre or the cyber cafés,” said AESCCO.

The group explained that this will ensure that everybody involved in
the process, regardless of economic status, is treated equally.

While conceding that small scale cyber café owners may be involved in
examination-related fraud, AESCCO argued that owners of big CBT centres
are not exactly free of such dubious tendencies.

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“In other words, the tendency to compromise systems exists in all
areas of businesses, regardless of scale and status of their
proprietors. The challenge for JAMB is to establish strong control and
security safeguards to monitor, identify and punish all fraudulent acts,
wherever established, whether by a CBT centre or a cyber café,” it
contended.

AESCCO further argued that aside from being discriminatory, the
exclusion of cyber cafés, which were initially accredited by JAMB in
preference to CBT centres, is unconstitutional.

AESCCO  observed that if the new policy excluding its members from
the registration process is implemented, it will lead to chaos in the
system. According to the association, the jump in the number of UTME
applicants to over one million (as at 2015, according to JAMB figures)
will place an enormous strain on the CBT centres except the cyber cafés
are there to take away some of the pressure. It wondered why JAMB is
seeking to be different from other local and international institutions,
which conduct registration online .

“If institutions of learning can conduct online registration for
admission by applicants anywhere in the world, without limiting
applicants to CBT centres, what is the peculiar difficulty of JAMB? If
WAEC and NECO can successfully conduct registration for their
examinations online without experiencing duplication and/or swapping of
applicants’ data, why should the approach of JAMB be different,” asked
AESCCO.

The body said if the new JAMB policy is not rescinded, it will worsen
unemployment in the country and increase crime rate, as the children of
cyber café operators will drop out of school because their parents
would have been forced out business.

Citing an international court ruling, the African Charter on Human
People’s Rights as well as constitutional provisions, AESCCO said the
right to life entails the right to livelihood. The group cited Section
16 (1c) of the 1999 Constitution, which states: “The state shall within
the context of the ideals and objectives for which provisions are made
in this Constitution that the economic system is not operated in such a
manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of
production and exchange in the hands of a few individuals or of a
group.”

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AESCCO argued that JAMB ‘s decision to lean towards the CBT centres
constitutes an abridgement of its members’ rights as guaranteed by  the
constitution and other conventions on human rights. It called on the
Senate Committee on Ethics, Code of Conduct and Public Petitions to
investigate its members’ concerns. If these are found to be valid,
AESCCO wants the Senate to take measures, including adopting a
resolution to compel JAMB to execute its functions in line with
constitutionally guaranteed rights.

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