The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, has disclosed plans to set up three centres for visually impaired candidates in 2018.
The centres will be located in Abuja, Lagos and Kano, it said.
JAMB registrar, Ishaq Oloyede, disclosed this on Wednesday at Arewa House, Kaduna, at a strategic planning retreat on monitoring and supervision of 2017 UTME.
Mr. Oloyede said the centres were being established in line with the examination board’s proposed “all-inclusive approach” in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME, processes.
Under the plan, the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), an information technology training institute, will train blind candidates at the centres on the use of the latest examination gadgets and technology.
Mr. Oloyede said the need for the training arose as a result of the challenges blind candidates face in operating “sophisticated and expensive Braille Apex equipment” the board purchased for them.
The JAMB boss added that efforts made by the Board to train virtually impaired candidates on the use of these latest gadgets before the 2017 UTME did not yield much impact due to inadequate time, hence the extension of the training to 2018.
“The Board has approached the Digital Bridge Institute to partner with it to set up Visually Impaired Candidates centres where the blind candidates can be trained all year round and which can also serve as examination centres for them.
“The Institute has agreed to set up these dedicated centres in Abuja, Lagos and Kano in 2018 and the Board will support the centres with all necessary inputs that would make teaching, learning and assessment at the centres seamless.
“The centres would also have residential accommodation for the blind candidates and their guides,” Mr. Oloyede said.
He also said the board had met with the executive committee of the Association of Blind Persons in Nigeria and some prospective blind candidates from a school for the blind in Lagos.
At the meeting, JAMB disclosed that prospective blind candidates for UTME will write this year’s examination by interactive mode.
The board noted that because of the insufficient number of Braille Note Apex machine normally used by blind, the board had resolved to conduct the examination for them through interaction.
“The outcome of these meetings revealed that, while the challenged group fully appreciates the Board’s recent efforts at improving and upgrading the facilities for the administration of the Board’s examination for the blind candidates, with the purchase of sophisticated and expensive Braille Apex equipment, the paradox of it, is that we have put majority of the blind candidates at a disadvantage as many of them have never been exposed to these latest gadgets in the various schools.
“Though, the Board also made efforts at training the blind candidates on the equipment before the examination, it is apparent that the two days to one week training and exposure to the sophisticated gadgets are inadequate and have little impact on them before the examination.
“Having noted the complaints of the Association and looking forward to 2018 when the project of dedicated centres would come to fruition, the Board has reached an understanding with the Association for the Blind Persons in Nigeria and Blind students in Lagos, that an abridged approach would be used for the 2017 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, whereby, all prospective blind candidates would be invited to three centres in the country for special assessment in their subjects of choice that are relevant to their desired courses and programmes,” Mr. Oloyede said.
The sale of the UTME 2017 forms will close on April 19, while the examination is slated to hold between May 6 and 20.