How To Make Millions Of Naira Setting Up A CBT Center In Nigeria

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Innovation in technology is sweeping through everything and the education sector is not an exception.

This year, for example, 75 percent of the candidates that would sit for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination {UTME} would be registered on a computer based platform.

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board {JAMB} which conducts the UTME stated last January that this year would be the last time candidates would be given the Paper and Pencil Test (PPT) and the Dual-Based Test (DBT) as other options in the UTME.“The CBT which we introduced in 2013 is the future and so candidates must try and apply themselves to the use of Information and Communications Technology”, a JAMB official says.

The West African Examinations Council {WAEC} as well as private organizations which conduct job tests for applicants is also thinking in the same direction with JAMB. Our story in SuccessDigest this week focuses on how a wise entrepreneur can set up a CBT centre and begin to earn steady income.

CBT Versus P/PBT – Merits And Demerits
Mr. Olabode Idowu, Chief Operations Officer, Electronic Test Centre (ETC), JKK Ltd, Ilupeju, Lagos, says, “To start with, P/PBT is known as Pencil/Paper Based Test, while CBT is known as Computer Based Test. One of the advantages CBT has over PPBT is that it reduces the cost of conducting the exams because you don’t need to print and distribute question papers all around.

JAMB, for example, distributes question papers and answer sheets a day to the exam, to various centres across the country, but when the centres are available like ours; where you have the computers, personnel and other infrastructures on ground, what JAMB does is to install its VSAT and download questions on the day of exam.

The other advantage of CBT over PPBT is that it eliminates malpractices and leakages of question papers, in the sense that it is only those in charge of setting the exam who have the knowledge of the questions – other people won’t have access to the questions until the day of the exam.

Yet another advantage of CBT is that the result can be gotten instantly – I mean a few hours after the exam. With PPBT you would have to collate all the answer sheets to the markers before the release of the results”.

Benefits itemized.
Idowu says, “CBT is becoming widely used. It has many advantages over traditional (paper-based) assessment. The advantages include the following:

  1. Lower long-term costs.

  2. Instant feedback to students.

  3. Greater flexibility with respect to location and timing.

  4. Improved reliability (machine marking is much more reliable than human marking).

  5. Improved impartiality (machine marking does not know the students, so does not favor nor make allowances for minor errors).

  6. Greater storage efficiency – tens of thousands of answer scripts can be stored on a server compared to the physical space required for paper scripts.

  7. Enhanced question styles which incorporate interactivity and multimedia”.

Alhaji Kamaldeen Oladeji, the Coordinator, JAMB National Headquarters Annex, Lagos, says the gadgets used for the CBT examination would boost teaching and learning thereafter. He said that the CBT mode of the examination had ensured prompt delivery of scores, elimination of results blackout and reduction of examination malpractice to the barest minimum. According to him, it has also helped in reducing cases of impersonation.

A source who craved anonymity told our correspondent that CBT was proposed so that all forms of examination malpractices, impersonation, and cheating will be an issue of the past. “There won’t also be an issue of missing script. Also, the cost of CBT exam is cheaper than the PPT as it does not involve printing of questions and answer sheets and paying banks for the custody of the materials.

It also reduces manpower for supervision making JAMB have lesser people to pay for invigilation. CBT also eliminates transporting of material because the questions are already uploaded in the system and come up immediately the candidate logs in”, the source says.

Places CBT Centres Can Be Established
Oladeji says, “Currently we are planning to use institutions like the Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, the Lagos State Polytechnic and the Lagos State University. They are in addition to the institutions already being used such as the University of Lagos and the Yaba College of Technology. Again, we are also considering some ICT-based corporate organizations such as Prime Innovation Institute of Technology on Lekki-Epe Expressway and Audax Solution, for the CBT examination”.

He adds that some private schools in Lagos State have also indicated interest in hosting the examination stressing that schools which meet the requirements for the conduct of the CBT would have a lot to benefit from the arrangement”.

Requirements Of An Exam Body – JAMB As Case Study
Oladeji says, “However, the proposed centres, especially the tertiary institutions, must have functional desktops, Computer System Cable and Local Area Network, with a minimum of 150 Systems and a minimum of five technical personnel at the centres”.

He adds that the centres are also required to have, among other things, electricity backup such as generators and inverters”.

Idowu says, “Anybody can be involved once you can provide the infrastructure; all you need do is to meet such exam body, like JAMB and JAMB will come to your centre with a view to taking a look at what you have in place and once you are able to meet the standard, you are good to go – once you can provide power, systems, personnel to assist on the day of exam, among others, you are good to go.

“Though, it depends on your capacity, but it seems JAMB requires a minimum of hundred and fifty (150) computers system per CBT Centre – functional desktop computers, among other aforementioned requirements like: Computer System Cable and Local Area Network, with the minimum numbers of Systems and a minimum of five technical personnel at the centres”.

The anonymous source says, “For someone who wants to partner with JAMB to conduct Computer Based Test (CBT exams), such a person must have a large space. Initially the minimum amount of computers needed for a centre to conduct CBT was 50 but now, you must have 150 computer systems (usually desktop computers), internet facility and standby power generating set, as well as have good security measures in place, amongst other things.

One must also have about five technical personnel in place in case of any technical fault that may arise during exams.

“When all these things are put in place, one can inform them at the JAMB office in your state of location and JAMB would send their officials to come inspect your facility to make sure all their requirements have been met. JAMB would then install their software on the computers if all their requirements have been met. The day preceding each JAMB exam, JAMB officials will go to all their centres to install their questions on the systems.

There has to be a separate system different from the ones the students would be using for exams. This system serves as the main system and must be networked to all the 150 or more computers. So, one of the technical personnel would be in charge of distributing the questions to each system”.

Steps To Setting Up A CBT Centre
Idowu says, “You might not really need to go to JAMB before starting, but even if you will, you must have your centre on ground already. Once, you have your centre, I also believe that JAMB itself would have sent spies out to seek and source for centres.

You can as well take a step, if you know someone who knows someone in JAMB and the likes, while you can decide to apply to be a centre for JAMB exam online via JAMB website like some do, after which they will come and verify the infrastructures on ground at your centre. Concerning fee to pay, I don’t think there is any fee attached to this registration.

For us – we didn’t register or go through the process of registration with JAMB when we started because; JAMB had already known us through our track records, as I have earlier said. But for new entrants, there is need for you to register with JAMB, so that they can monitor their centres”.

Cost Of Setting Up A CBT Centre
Idowu says, “I cannot specifically tell you the exact amount it will cost, but it depends on the capacity and features you are aiming to provide – as in some centres, you have 500 complete computer systems, cubicles, chairs, power, water, server, network service, air conditioning system, among others. So, it is not easy to give an accurate estimation”.

How You Get Your Returns
Idowu says, “Yes, we didn’t go through any registration payment, as earlier said and new entrants’ registration might not really be monetarily based. So, JAMB is obligated to pay us per candidate. For instance, we have a 600 seat facility here, if we now have 1200 or 1800 candidates, it means we will have two or three sessions or batches respectively. So, it depends on the number of candidates you can contain, which JAMB will pay per head”.

Monetizing A Centre When Exams Are Not Being Conducted
Idowu says, “We also conduct other exams like recruitment exams, Post UTME for schools, promotion exams for companies and we are also into training of company staff. Like this place, we are currently using it on weekly basis for people who are into TOEFL exam (an international exam body) in Nigeria.

So, our centres are not by any means idle at all, as you can make money even if JAMB is not conducting exams”.

Preparation Against Power Surge Or Failure During Exams
Idowu says, “It is very simple: whenever we are having exams, we run on generator – as we need not to gamble at all.

You know if we do play with this aspect, it might cause lots of havok for candidates, CBT Centre operators and JAMB. For instance, we have like three heavy-duty power generating sets here and at all our other centres across the nation”.

Is It A Lucrative Business?
Idowu says, “Yes, for us, it has been lucrative, in the sense that when we started, we were the only ones in the business – you didn’t have any other choice than to come to us as the only CBT Centre then, but now, we have a lot of competitors”.

How Long Before One Breaks Even
Idowu says, “Well, this is somehow complicated and breaking even is based on various factors, but I will like to say you shouldn’t expect to make your returns in just two years – it is a long-term investment.

You should just continue in doing it and doing it right. Now that JAMB is going fully into CBT and WAEC is also planning to run their exams via CBT Centres, you don’t need to rely on only one exam like JAMB, but you should as well go for other professional exams, trainings, among others – JAMB comes just once in a year”.

Computer Specifications Required
Idowu says, “The computers we use now can meet any required specification because we have different types of computers, even laptops – mainly because of mobility – as we might want to go and set up an exam in a location where you don’t have a centre, so you will to take laptops there”.

Any Special Software To Use?
Idowu says, “We have our own specific software that we use and at times, the clients will bring their own software and server – this works with its own software installed already. But if the client does not have, we have our own proprietary software that we use. For instance, in the case of JAMB exam, JAMB provides its own software”.

The anonymous source says, “A CBT must be transmitted to the examinee’s computer at a specific location, and then displayed through a specific software application. The physical location of the computer on which an examinee will take the exam, in most cases, will be a CBT center or site.

Other physical locations for CBT administration are possible, including unsecured locations such as an examinee’s home. The software application that is used to transmit the electronic test data to the examinee’s computer may also be used to display the test items on the screen.

Alternatively, a browser application may be used for displaying the test items. Both the physical location of the CBT administration and the software used to display the items possess considerable implications for important test administration issues of standardization and security”.

CBT For The Physically Challenged
Idowu says, “We have them and there are facilities in place for them coupled with assistance from personnel who are trained providing service for examinees with physical challenges. So, there shouldn’t be any cause for alarm”.

Idowu says, “The major challenge here is power in this part of the world. You are going to run an exam for two or three weeks and it must be run on diesel or petrol.

“Another challenge, especially when you want to start, is getting a place big enough to accommodate whatever you want to do. You need a big place with ample space for parking lot and a holding area because of large crowd where the next batch of candidates can stay before their turn.

“Yet another challenge is the integrity of the personnel, which you must ascertain. Your staff must not compromise. The person in charge of testing the server must be someone of impeccable integrity.

If the software is porous or he’s someone who can hack into your database, or who might want to check the results and to change some; there will be problem which will dent the image of the centre.

Even if the software person doesn’t compromise, another member of staff might do and promise the candidated that they will manipulate for them, which they won’t be able to do, but they would have tainted your name. So, you have to be sure of the people you are employing.

“In CBT, the chances of exam malpractice are minimal and can be traced unlike in P/PBT. Also, if there is leakage of the exam, the paper can be cancelled immediately and you have another one written. So, if you assign someone trustworthy in place, you won’t have anything to worry about”.

What Prompts People Into Setting Up CBT Centres?
Idowu says, “Well, we have probably envisioned a situation whereby people will be able to have exams in a conducive environment like this, instead of all these dilapidated classrooms you find around.

We have light, air conditioning, CCTV and a neater environment. We also thought of it: that a lot of companies recruit, want to safeguard their questions, their integrity and want instant results”.

Advice For New Entrants
Idowu says, “It is not something you start and begin to reap the dividend of the investment immediately; but a long term investment. You just have to be patient, employ the right people who will drive the business.

It is not something that anybody can jump into; you must be focused, you must have passion for the business because it involves a lot of marketing, among other things.

Let’s say JAMB will come to you, but there are some companies that do recruitment exercises and some schools that do Post UTME, which you need to meet – you know you have competitors around. So, you just have to go the extra mile, so as to stand out”.

Source: Success Digest Newspaper

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