A total of three hundred and sixty-four blind candidates are to sit the 2023 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination in eleven centres across the nation.
The special examination being conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) for visually impaired candidates is being held between 27 and 29 April 2023 under the supervision of the JAMB Equal Opportunity Group (JEOG).
The Chairman, JAMB Equal Opportunity Group (JEOG), Professor Peter Okebukola, who made this known while providing the highlight of the 2023 examination on Thursday in Abuja, commended the JAMB Registrar, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, for the special arrangement for this category of Nigerians, saying 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 disclosed 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, saying that this JAMB initiative has been cited in the last four years in several countries, as a good model for Africa.
The former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), explained that the mode of examination administration is blended- the use of Personal Computers (PCs) and the use of the traditional Braille slate and stylus/typewriters in writing answers to questions that are read out by a subject expert, stressing that the blind candidates take the same test items as those who are not blind.
Prof Okebukola who is also the Chairman Governing Board of the National Open University of Nigeria NOUN revealed that JAMB has approved that from 2024; there would be a gradual migration to the full CBT mode customised for blind candidates.
He noted that a pilot run is to be conducted later in the year to test the mode and also give options to candidates who elect for fully Braille, fully CBT and full read-aloud modes.
“There are exciting times ahead for blind candidates and others with disabilities in realisation of the dream of Professor Is-haq Oloyede for equal opportunity. So far, a good number of blind 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%) were given admission. This was unprecedented in the history of admission of such a category of students into the Nigerian higher education system, another of Professor Oloyede’s golden legacies.
“In 2020, 89 of the 351 blind candidates (25%) that sat for the UTME. In 2021, a total of 110 blind candidates were given admission, out of the 332 that sat for the UTME. This 33% admission of blind candidates to higher education in an annual cohort is unprecedented in the African higher education system.
“In 2022, 139 candidates out of the 364 candidates that took the UTME (38%) were admitted to the higher education institution of their choice.
“Five of the blind candidates scored above 270 in the 2022 UTME. Ninety-two scored above 200. When compared proportionally with the non-blind candidates, the blind 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”. Prof Okebukola said.