A total of 127 visually impaired candidates from the Southwest Zone on Monday commenced their session of the 2018 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination at the Distance Learning Institute of the University of Lagos.
It was reported that not less than 340 visually impaired candidates registered for the examination nationwide.
The National Coordinator, JAMB Equal Opportunity Group, Prof. Peter Okebukola told NAN on the sidelines of the examination that the test was holding simultaneously for the visually impaired candidates in five centres across the six geopolitical zones in the country.
The group is responsible for administering the 2018 UTME to both the prisoners and the blind candidates nationwide.
He noted that already the group had on Saturday conducted the examination for those in the prisons.
According to Okebukola, 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 would make them feel comfortable before and after the examination.
He noted that the two-day examination (March 19 and March 20) would be taken through the dictation mode as was obtained in 2017.
Okebukola, one time Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), said the candidates would have to make do with the mode for now as against the Computer-Based Test (CBT) mode as plans were underway to redesign the administration of the test using the computer mode.
“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 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 inbuilt intonation.
“We are hopeful that before the commencement of the 2019 UTME, we would gave moved quite far in the development of the software,” he told our reporter.
According to the former NUC scribe, this year’s examination generally had been adjudged more successful when compared to what obtained in 2017 in terms of logistics and quality.
The don said:“When I talk of the quality of the examination, I am talking in terms of the manner of presentation through this platform.
“We expect that the candidates will come out with good grades and those who are successful in both the UTME and the Post UTME and meet the criteria for placements into universities of their choices would have equal opportunity as their sighted counterparts.
“And that is why we in the Equal Opportunity Group are deploying all resources available to us in ensuring that equal opportunity is given to all regardless of any form of disability and I think the larger society should also toe this path.”
It was also reported that the group distributed visually impaired candidates to major cities in the five geopolitical zones, namely: Lagos, Kano, Enugu, Abuja and Benin to prevent long distance travel for the exam.
The Proprietress, Bethesda Home for the Blind, Mushin in Lagos, Mrs Chioma Ohakwe, also told NAN that a total of 25 out of the total candidates writing in the Southwest zone are from the home.
“I am expecting a very good performance from my students because we have done our home work well.
“Despite the mode of administration of the examination, I still want to believe that my students’ performance will be better than what we had last through the same mode.
“Having said this, I want to commend JAMB for the arrangements it made for the candidates this year for the examination.
“The board is improving every year and I think it is worthy of our commendation,’’ she said.
Samuel Adebisi from Ekiti, who participated in the examination, lauded the efforts of Equal Opportunity Group and JAMB for the smooth conduct of the test.
“I came all the way from Ekiti for the examination, we have just finished the first paper which is English and I must say that it is well organized and we are very comfortable with the logistics put in place concerning our welfare.
“Even with the dictation mode of the examination, I want to say I feel relaxed and at home with it because of the pace of the examiner in dictating the questions and the answers to us; In all I think I am very hopeful of a good result,’’ he said.
Another visually challenged candidate, Yetunde Banjo, 30, from Ogun, also told NAN that she was happy with the mode of the examination but that it could be better.
According to her, she was not born blind and that she has learnt to live happily with her fate.
“I was not born blind. I only became blind in 2010. But I have been living with the condition. The examination is not a big deal, I think it is okay. With the dictation mode, it only makes us to be more alert so that we don’t miss anything.
“I applied to study Social Works at the University of Lagos and I pray that my dream comes through. I also want to commend JAMB for the arrangements put in place for our welfare.”