A total of 364 visually impaired candidates are to sit for the 2023 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) in 11 centres across Nigeria.
The Chairman, JAMB Equal Opportunity Group (JEOG) Professor Peter Okebukola, who spoke today, April 27, in Abuja, commended the JAMB Registrar, Professor Is-haq Oloyede, for the special arrangement for this category of Nigerians.
According to him, the goal of the Oloyede-led JAMB is to ensure that no Nigerian who is eligible, is prevented from taking the UTME regardless of disability.
He said that from 2017, JEOG had processed about 2,600 candidates for the UTME with over a third admitted to courses of their choice in higher education institutions in Nigeria, mainly universities.
He said that the initiative had been cited in the last four years in several countries, as a good model for Africa.
”The mode of examination administration is blended- use of Personal Computers (PCs) and use of the traditional Braille slate and stylus/typewriters in writing answers to questions that are read out by a subject expert.
”The visually impaired candidates take the same test items as those who are not blind.”
Okebukola who is also the Chairman, Governing Board of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), said that JAMB had approved that from 2024, there would be a gradual migration to the full CBT mode customised for blind candidates.
He said that a pilot run was to be conducted later in the year to test this mode while also giving options to candidates who chose for fully Braille, fully CBT and full read-aloud modes.
“There are exciting times ahead for visually impaired candidates and others with physical challenges in realisation of the dream of Professor Is-had Oloyede for equal opportunity.
“So far, a good number of visually impaired candidates processed through JEOG have secured admission to federal, state and private universities, polytechnics and colleges of education.
“In 2019, of the 390 candidates, a total of 175 (44.8 per cent) were given admission. This was unprecedented in the history of admission of such category of students into the Nigerian higher education system.
“In 2020, 89 of the 351 candidates (25 per cent) that sat for the UTME got admissions.
”In 2021, a total of 110 candidates were given admission, out of the 332 that sat for the UTME.
”This 33 per cent admission of visually impaired candidates to higher education in an annual cohort is unprecedented in the African higher education system.”
He said that in 2022, 139 candidates out of the 364 candidates that took the UTME (38 per cent) were admitted to the higher institution of their choice.
He said five of the visually impaired candidates scored above 270 in the 2022 UTME, while 92 scored above 200.
”When compared proportionally with the non-blind candidates, the visually impaired candidates are doing as well, if not better than the visually unimpaired candidates.
“The 2023 exercise is taking place in 11 centres nationwide. This is in the interest of bringing the venue of the examination closer to the candidates, especially with the security situation in the country.
“The centres are coordinated by seasoned academics and university administrators. The total number of candidates is 364,” he said.
Okebukola said that JEOG was already implementing a strategic plan of gradually increasing the ICT component of administration of the UTME to match improvement in ICT usage for the education of the visually impaired in the tertiary institutions.
The examination, being conducted by the board for the visually impaired candidates would hold from April 27 to 29, under the supervision of the JAMB Equal Opportunity Group (JEOG).