• Wednesday, February 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

2600 visually impaired candidates, others sit for UTME since 2017

88 blind candidates sit for 2023 UTME in Kano centre

No fewer than 2600 visually impaired candidates and those with other disabilities have sat for Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) from
2017 to date.

Sunday Ododo, the coordinator Abuja Centre of JAMB Equal Opportunity Group (JEOG) who disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja, 513 of such candidates have been getting admission into higher institutions of learning from 2019 to date.

JEOG was set up by Is-haq Oloyede, the JAMB registrar in 2017 to give level playing field for candidates with special needs, sitting for UTME.

Ododo explained that in 2019, 175 candidates were given admission in higher institutions in Nigeria, 89 were given admission in 2020 and 110 were admitted in 2021 while 139 candidates gained admission in 2022.

He said 337 are candidates sitting for the examination across the country in 11 JAMB equal opportunity centres spread over the six geopolitical zones.

The coordinator said, presently
JAMB equal opportunity group does care only for the blind but those with other disabilities like Albinism and they have recently added Attention-deficit /Hyperactivity Disorder community

“I want you to know that in testing these candidates, there is no favoritism, it is the same test instruments that are given to regular candidates that they are also examined on. We have 20 subjects on which they are examined on year in, year out.

“The mode of administration of this examination is the use of brailles, PCs, typewriters and sometimes voice to paper. We read to the candidates that can not write. Some are not blind but they can not write so when they hear the questions, they pronounce the answers, an official who is an expert input the answer on their behalf. That way, the fact that they can not write does not put them at disadvantage,” he said.

Ododo said JEOG has put a proposal to JAMB to ensure that there is appropriation of ICT components into activities so that in years to come, special candidates will begin to answer their questions using the Computer Based Test and (CBT).

He said: “A pilot demonstration will come up later in the year. Once that is done, the candidates will given the opportunity to choose the mode of examination administration they want and gradually we will begin to demphasised braille for the use of ICT to write the UTME.”

The coordinator further disclosed that JAMB has approved to host Africa biennial conference on equal opportunities in higher institutions starting from 2024 while a national conference on the theme has also been approved to hold in September, 2023.

He said JAMB has also approved that by 2024, there will be gradual migration to the full CBT mode of examination for the blind candidates.

Also speaking, Jake Epelle, the chief executive/founder of the Abino Foundation (TAF) and member of JEOG called on universities and other tertiary institutions to allow Persons With Disabilities to chose their choice of courses of study without interference.

“We want to use this opportunity to please send a strong message to private universities and some public universities that are not giving people with disabilities the opportunity to read courses of their choice.

“We need to stop that and allow people to read courses of their choice. There is nothing we can not do, our disability is physical, we don’t have brain disability,” he said.

On JEOG, Epelle said: “JAMB has extended membership to include members of the PWD leaders. All of the candidates that you see here today with thanks to Oloyede were feried from their homes to hotels, feed and prepared for this exams at no cost to them at all.

“JAMB is bearing this cost and there plans to expand it accommodate more persons with disabilities. At the end of the day, I think JAMB will need more funding to be able to carry out this kind of special service.”