The Registrar of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Professor Is-haq Oloyede, has emerged the best advocate of equal opportunity in higher education in Africa.
He was rated high above others in Africa at a meeting recently held at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, where African countries were compared in the opportunities afforded people living with disabilities to access higher education in Nigeria.
Chairman of the JAMB Equal Opportunity Group (JEOG), Prof Emeritus Peter Okebukola, made this known in a statement he made available to newsmen in Abuja.
Okebukola, a former Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC) who recently returned from UNESCO headquarters in Paris, said excited by the rating which was judged by the presentation made by JEOG at the meeting.
The Group which was set up by Prof. Oloyede, in 2017, has been able to process over 2000 candidates with disabilities especially the blind, albinos with sight challenges, and candidates with autism and Down syndrome through administration of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).
The Group is made up of 43 senior academics, including former Executive Secretaries of Parastatals of the Federal Ministry of Education, former Vice-Chancellors, a former Minister and experts in special education and other relevant stakeholders such as the President of the Nigeria Association of the Blind, National President, Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, President, The Albino Foundation and President, Nigeria National Association of Deaf.
The Anglo-Nigeria Welfare Association for the Blind plays an active role in the exercise.
According to a release by Okebukola highlighting the plans for the conduct of the 2022 UTME, 383 candidates in 11 centres spread all over Nigeria will be taking the 2022 UTME on May 12 and 13.
He said this was in the interest of bringing the venue of the examination closer to the candidates especially with the security situation in the country. A total of 20 subjects will be taken by the candidates.
Okebukola stressed that the blind candidates and others that are served by the group take the same test items as those who are not blind, explaining that the mode of examination administration is blended- use of PCs and use of the traditional Braille slate and stylus/typewriters in writing answers to questions that are read out by a subject expert.
He added that this was in alignment with the current state of development of Nigeria’s higher education system with regard to education of the blind.
He said, “JEOG is 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 blind in the universities, polytechnics and colleges of education.
“JAMB takes full responsibility for 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.
“Additionally, each blind candidate received the very precious tools of slate and stylus from JAMB that will be used during the course of study, when admitted in a tertiary institution,” Okebukola said.
According to the statistics from JAMB, in 2019, of the 390 candidates, a total of 175 (44.8%) were given admission, which he said was unprecedented in the history of admission of such a category of students into the Nigerian higher education system.
“In 2020, 89 of the 351 blind candidates (25%) that sat for the UTME, were given admission. 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,” he said.