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Over 300 blind UTME candidates seek waiver of mathematics

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Some blind candidates in the ongoing Unified Tertiary Matriculations Examination (UTME) have appealed to the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and the universities to waive mathematics for them.

The special candidates lamented that most of them usually have difficulty in calculations and particularly with speed. They complained that it contributed to their inability to do very well in the subject.

They, therefore, appealed that it would be better if the subject is optional for those among them who are not pursuing science or engineering-related courses.

A total of 337 blind candidates are writing this year UTME and the figure is among a total of over 1. 6 million candidates expected to write the exam at various designated Computer-Based Test (CBT) centres spread across the country.

The blind candidates just like their other mates are being assessed in a total of one hundred and eighty questions including the use of English Language and Mathematics with each sitting for four subjects as applicable to their proposed courses of study and they were allowed to make use of instruments such as computer, braille and typewriter to write their papers as convenient.

But unlike their regular counterparts who sit all their four papers once, blind candidates sit for their own papers per subject and a group of professors and special education experts known as JAMB Equal Opportunity Group (JEOG) with the former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof Peter Okebukola as chairman is saddled with the responsibility of the conduct of the exam for them.

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The chairman of JEOG, who led the team that directly supervised the exercise at the Lagos Centre at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Akoka, Prof Okebukola, said it is JAMB that is responsible (except exam fee) for the transportation of blind candidates and that of their guide persons from their homes to the exam centres, hotel accommodation for those who could not go home as well as feeding.

He said the goal of the special consideration and treatment is to ensure that no Nigerian, who is qualified is denied the opportunity to sit for UTME and gain admission irrespective of disability, noting that the system is actually increasing enrolment of blind and other students with a disability such as down syndrome and autism in the country

Giving examples, he said out of 364 blind candidates who sat the exam in 2022, 139 of them gained admission into various tertiary schools while 110 gained admission from 332 who sat the exam in 2021.

He said even though those figures might look small, the impact on knowledge and skills acquisition particularly as concerned students with special needs is certainly huge for Nigeria and its economy.

He commended JAMB Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede, for the initiative.

He said JEOG which also conducts the same exam for other categories of special candidates such as Albinos and Down syndrome, is set to propose to JAMB to institute an award for the top three tertiary institutions that admit the highest number of persons with disabilities on a yearly basis.

He also said JAMB would start to migrate from the current mode of exam for blind candidates to a full- CBT customised mode from next year.

Some of the blind candidates, however, commended JAMB for the special treatment, saying it really encouraged many of them to pursue higher education to prepare them for the world of work rather than to go begging.: rewrite the above like an expert in journalism and add the quoted sentences.

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