Posted on March 27, 2018
The National Coordinator, JAMB Equal Opportunity Group, Prof. Peter Okebukola, has said that most Nigerian universities lack the right facilities to support visually impaired people.
Okebukola said this, in an interview with our correspondent, on the sidelines of the 2018 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination for Special Candidates held recently at the Distance Learning Centre, University of Lagos, Akoka.
Calling on the Federal Government to keep supporting JAMB in terms of the methodology for improving the conduct of the UTME for visually impaired candidates and in other ways, he said, “We expect that our universities should have the physical and emotional environment that is supportive of these candidates. But most of our universities don’t have the facilities to support visually impaired people.”
Noting that 320 visually impaired admission seekers took the 2018 UTME in Lagos, Okebukola also said there was an improvement in the conduct of the examination in terms of logistics.
He said, “We have improved significantly in logistics. Last year we had experiences, which led us to create a new centre in Benin City. We had only four centres in 2017. Now we have five centres. This was because many candidates from Edo State had to travel all the way to Enugu to sit the examination.
“We decided to create a centre for them at the University of Benin. It was very important because of their status as visually impaired people. We didn’t want to subject them to the burden and agony of having to travel such a distance any longer.
“Also, we got them accommodation in a very good hotel. Even the environment for implementing the questions is better than what we had last year. So we are improving by the year.”
He disclosed that the JAMB Equal Opportunity Group was on the verge of recording a breakthrough in the conduct of the UTME for visually impaired candidates.
He said that as part of its plan to go in the direction of computer-based examinations, the group had decided to develop a new software that would read out questions to candidates in local Nigerian intonations in the nearest future.
He said, “We are hoping to move in the direction of computer-based examination, like the others. Instead of a human reading to the candidates, we have a software that will read to them.
We are developing a new software that will read to them in local Nigerian intonations. We are working quite hard to ensure that by the next edition of the UTME, it will be ready for use.”
Also, explaining why the group had to break down the conduct of the examination into five zones, Okebukola said, “The idea is to administer the UTME in an environment that is friendly to the candidates, but equivalent in terms of quality of questions asked the regular candidates.
“The way we do it is to read out the questions one at a time and the candidates are using their equipment, either the Braille machine or Mabog or stylus and typewriter to answer the question. Since they lack sight to read the questions like the regular candidates, somebody will have to read the questions to them in a language that they are able to understand.”
He added that a large number of the candidates that sat the examination at the Lagos centre in 2017 were offered admission to various universities in the country.