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JAMB 2021: Over 300 blind candidates take exam nation-wide
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JAMB 2021: Over 300 blind candidates take exam nation-wide 

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board is now conducting the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME), which includes 335 blind students (JAMB).

The applicants, who are among the more than 1.3 million candidates who have enrolled for the 2021 edition, are presently taking the exam at 11 locations around the country.

Peter Okebukola, the head of the JAMB Equal Opportunity Group, which is in charge of conducting the test for this group of applicants, said the examination will take place between June 30 and July 1 at 11 different locations.

On Wednesday at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, the site for the candidates from Lagos and Ogun States, Mr Okebukola, a professor of science education, talked with PREMIUM TIMES. He said, the federal capital territory, FCT, Ado-Ekiti, Bauchi, Benin, Enugu, Jos, Kano, Kebbi, Oyo, and Yola are among the places that would host the remaining centers.

According to Mr Okebukola, the equal opportunity group was formed as part of JAMB’s current leadership’s attempts to “promote equity in admission of adequately competent secondary school leavers to higher education in Africa.”

He said the panel, which consists of 42 top academics, including special education specialists, as well as other key stakeholders such as the leadership of the Anglo-Nigeria Welfare Association for the Blind, has been in charge of conducting the blind candidates’ test since 2017.

“The objective of the Oloyede-led JAMB is to guarantee that no Nigerian who is qualified, regardless of handicap, is barred from taking the UTME,” the don stated. He is a big believer in providing a fair playing field for all candidates.

So long as an applicant is intellectually capable and satisfies the basic requirements for admission to the university/polytechnic/college of education of his or her choice, he or she should have a fair chance of being accepted.”

In 2019, a total of 175 (44.8%) of the 390 applicants were accepted. This was unprecedented in the history of admission of such a category of students into the Nigerian higher education system. The University of Ilorin, Bayero University, Kano, University of Lagos, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and University of Abuja accepted the majority of the candidates.”

Mr Okebukola conveyed JAMB’s gratitude to the concerned universities’ vice-chancellors, noting that “a few weeks ago, Bayero University, Kano, provided special permission for admitting blind applicants by extending its carrying capacity for this group of students.”

Other members of the group include Rashid Aderinoye, former executive secretary of the National Commission for Nomadic Education; Muhammed Maiturare, former vice-chancellor of IBB University, Lapai; Mosto Onuoha, former president of the Nigeria Academy of Science; Muhammad Bello, former vice-chancellor of Bayero University, Kano; Taoheed Adedoja, former sports minister; and former vice-chancellor of Bayero University, Kano.

The hybrid style of the test was chosen, according to the group’s head, because of the current stage of growth of Nigeria’s educational system.

“The manner of examination administration is blended,” he explained, referring to the employment of personal computers as well as traditional braille slates and stylus/typewriters in writing responses to questions read out by a subject expert. This is in line with Nigeria’s higher education system’s present stage of growth in terms of blind education.

“The group is enthusiastic about candidates that offer STEM topics, though there are few, because this is an essential aspect to equal opportunity. Since 2018, a research has been undertaken to see how many blind applicants can be encouraged to pursue STEM topics, recognizing the difficult conditions for blind candidates to study science at the secondary and post-secondary levels.”

Some of the candidates who spoke with our reporter about their experiences praised the testing organization for including them in its planning.

Eluu Chukwudi, a 21-year-old applicant escorted to the facility by his mother, Christiana Eluu, expressed his intention to pursue social work at university.

Master Chukwudi, a student at Ijanikin’s Federal Government College, said he wanted to make his parents proud.

“I wasn’t born blind, but since I am now, I don’t feel my blindness should limit my prospects. We can compete well with our non-blind peers and even outperform them in terms of quality,” he added.

Stephen Okafor also stated that the environment was favorable for the examination and that he expected to do well.

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