364 Visually Impaired Candidates To Write 2023 UTME

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The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has commenced the 2023 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) for visually impaired candidates across eleven centres in Nigeria.

A total of 364 blind candidates are set to participate in the special examination, which is being supervised by the JAMB Equal Opportunity Group (JEOG) from the 27th to the 29th of April.

The Chairman of the JAMB Equal Opportunity Group, Professor Peter Okebukola, has lauded the JAMB Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, for the special arrangement made for the visually impaired candidates.

He stated that the Oloyede-led JAMB is committed to ensuring that every eligible Nigerian, regardless of disability, can take the UTME.

Professor Okebukola disclosed that since 2017, JEOG had processed about 2,600 candidates for the UTME, with over a third of them admitted to higher education institutions in Nigeria, mainly universities.

This initiative by JAMB has been commended by several countries over the last four years as a good model for Africa.

The examination administration for blind candidates is blended, involving the use of Personal Computers (PCs) and traditional Braille slate and stylus/typewriters to write answers to questions read out by a subject expert. Blind candidates take the same test items as non-blind candidates.

Professor Okebukola revealed that JAMB has approved the gradual migration to the full Computer-Based Test (CBT) mode customized for blind candidates, starting in 2024.

A pilot run will be conducted later this year to test this mode, giving candidates the option to choose between fully Braille, fully CBT, and full read-aloud modes.

He noted that a good number of blind candidates processed through JEOG had secured admission to federal, state, and private universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education. In 2019, of the 390 candidates, a total of 175 were given admission.

In 2020, 89 of the 351 blind candidates (25%) sat for the UTME. In 2021, a total of 110 blind candidates were given admission out of the 332 that sat for the UTME, while in 2022, 139 candidates out of the 364 that took the UTME (38%) were admitted to higher education institutions of their choice.

Professor Okebukola also revealed that JEOG is already implementing a strategic plan of gradually increasing the ICT component of the UTME administration to match the improvement in ICT usage for the education of the blind in universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education.

JAMB takes full responsibility for the hotel accommodation and feeding of the candidates in the 11 centres and pays generous transport supplementation while providing them with a conducive environment to write the examination.

Each blind candidate also receives the very precious tools of slate and stylus from JAMB to be used during the course of study when admitted to a tertiary institution.

JEOG is proposing to JAMB the institution of awards for the top three tertiary institutions with the highest number of candidates with disabilities admitted in a given year.

JAMB has also approved hosting a biennial Africa Regional Conference on Equal Opportunities in Higher Education starting in 2024, to be chaired by Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, with all 55 African countries participating. A national conference on the same theme has also been approved to hold in September 2023.

Professor Okebukola said, “There are exciting times ahead for blind candidates and others with disabilities in the realization of the dream of Professor Is-haq Oloyede for equal opportunity.”

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