By Emmanuel Edukugho
About two hundred and thirty six candidates from sixty secondary schools in Ilorin took the Cowbell Milk sponsored National Secondary Schools Mathematics Competition, (NASSMAC) examination held at Queen Elizabeth School last Saturday in the first stage of the exercise to determine eventual winners of lucrative prizes lined up for the best successful students.
The examination was held in 130 centres in 36 states and Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Each school brought two candidates for the Senior Secondary School Two (SS2) category and another two for the Junior Secondary School Three (JSS3) category.
At the Ilorin centre in Kwara State, candidates and their teachers startedÂ to converge at Queen Elizabeth School as early as 8 a.m to begin registration for the examination at state level. Other Centres in the state were Offa, Lafiaji and Omua-Aran.
To be eligible for the examination, candidates were required to bring two empty sachets of Cowbell Milk with their names, address and phone number written on a paper and attached to the sachets. Those who came without the sachets were asked to purchase two sachets filled with the powered milk, the contents removed by the candidates and submit with their names address, and phone number attached.
Mr. Debo Onigbanjo, Sales Manager, Cowbell, Ilorin, effectively took charge of the exercise, directing affairs, answering enquiries made by candidates, making sure everything went smoothly, passport pictures must be attached to the forms and stamped by the school.
He ensured that, â€œno stamp, no registrationâ€. There were two registration points for SS2 and JSS2 respectively in front of the Queen Elizabeth School Dinning Hall, venue of the examination. Those who came early got free math sets in addition to Cowbell biro pens.
Onigbanjo warned that, after one hour of the commencement of the examination, no candidate will be allowed to enter the hall. The examination forms were suppose to be given to schools by the State Ministry of Education free of charge.
But some teachers and their students came to the centre without forms and they were given to fill on the spot.
The Cowbell Manager told Vanguard Education Weekly that the Ministry of Education may have hoarded the forms, so some schools could not get.
â€œThose schools which did not get forms from the Ministry of Education came in with their students and teachers and we have to give them forms and get them registered immediately to do the examination.
After the registration, the candidates went into the hall, sitting two in one desk, well separated from each other, and not allowed to bring in GSM phone, nor calculators, or any sheet of paper, except math setsÂ and 4-figure table.
Onigbanjo clarified further: â€œSchool stamp must be on the forms for authenticity because anybody can get the forms and come here. If you donâ€™t properly register before entering the hall to write the examination, then youâ€™re on your own..â€
At about 10 a.m., all the candidates were already seated. The question papers, sealed were brought inside by the Cowbell manager and shown to the candidates before tearing the packets in the presence of everyoneÂ including the invigilators.
Thereafter, the question papers, both objective and theory for Senior and Junior categories were distributed, with warning that candidates should not open until asked to do so. The duration was one hour and thirty minutes, after which the answer sheets were collected.
A new dimension was added to the exercise with the introduction of a raffle draw after the exercise for candidates to win prizes such as standing fan, rechargeable lanterns, cartoons of tea cups, potable flasks and other consolation prizes.
â€œWeâ€™re doing this to cool the candidates down and reduce tension after the examination as some of them may not be happy. But with the raffle draw, they will feel relaxed and go and wait until results are released,â€ he explained.
The first prize of standing fan was won by Abolaji Najeem-Deen of Government Day Secondary School, Alore, Ilorin.
Second prize of two cartoons of tea cups and plates went to Adepoju Tola, University of Ilorin while the third prize was taken by Abdulkareem Latifat, 14, Abike Close, Agbo-Oba, Ilorin.
Winners of the consolation prizes were Daudu Isaiah of Goshen Christian Academy, Bacita, and Nihamet Aleshinloye, River Basin College, Ilorin.
Some of the students and a teacher spoke to Vanguard Education Weekly after the examination.
Durodola Kabir, a JSS 3 student of Government Day Secondary School, said: â€œItâ€™s a strong and difficult examination, but I did my best and expect a good result. Iâ€™m hopeful, very hopeful of success.â€
His teacher who accompanied him, Mrs. Yinka Odenibi, has this to say: â€œThe examination is fine because it is encouraging to the student, at least for the interest in mathematics, because many of them donâ€™t have interest in mathematics. With this examination, they will develop interest in mathematics.â€
She expressed confidence that her student will make it.
â€œHe is our best student in mathematics. I hope he can do it and go to the next level of the competition.â€
An SS2 student, Musa Aliyu, Barakat Community Secondary School, Ilorin, said the examination was fine. â€œItâ€™s fine. I was able to answer some of the questions very well, but some were difficult. It is possible I can make it. In school, I donâ€™t have difficulty with mathematics. I like mathematics.
Asked what course he would like to study in future, Musa replied:
â€œI will study maths. I have interest in mathematics and want to take up engineering in the university.â€