No fewer than 330 visually-impaired candidates, yesterday, jostled for the 700,000 admission spaces in tertiary institutions as they sat for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME, in Lagos, Kano, Abuja, Enugu and Benin centres.
Speaking at the examination centre at the University of Lagos, UNILAG, National Coordinator, JAMB Equal Opportunity Group, Professor Peter Okebukola, said the group is responsible for administering the 2018 UTME to prisoners and the blind candidates nationwide. He explained that the purpose was to allow people, regardless of their ethnicity, creed and other dis-aggregating attributes, have access to tertiary education, adding “this is deriving from the National Policy on Education.” He noted that the group had, on Saturday, conducted the examination for those in the prisons. Meanwhile, the Director, Anglo Welfare Association for the Blind, as well as United Nations Committee Member on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Danlami Basharu, said: “We ensure they turned up promptly and that everyone has the right writing equipment. “I am helping to see that their accommodation, papers and all the equipment for writing are well secured.” On their comfort, Okebukola said the visually-impaired candidates listed for the examination nationwide have been assembled in “high-grade hotels” with very good feeding and transportation arrangements and other logistics that will make them feel comfortable before and after the examination. He noted that the two-day examination (March 19 and March 20) will be taken through the dictation mode as was obtained in 2017. Okebukola, one-time Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, NUC, added that “for now, they will have to make do with the dictation mode as the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, organisers of the examination, is working towards a suitable Computer-Based Test, CBT mode soon. “The software we have now that comes with the Braille Note Apex machine is not Nigerian enough for their comprehension. “So, we are developing a software that will have a Nigerian in-built intonation. We are hopeful that before the commencement of 2019 UTME, we would have moved quite far in the development of the software.” Asked if the special candidates get special consideration in terms cut-off marks and admission into universities, Okebukola said: “What qualifies them is their performances; what qualifies candidates into the university are their scores in the UTME, and their scores in the post-UTME,” maintaining that if any candidate gets those two scores right, then he has no issue.