Ahead of the Monday deadline for the nationwide shutdown of schools as ordered by the federal government, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) on Sunday concluded the 2020 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).
Apart from some regular candidates who were rescheduled to sit the examination in Bayelsa State on Sunday, a total of 354 blind candidates also took part across 12 centres, which are located in Lagos, Ondo, Ekiti, Oyo, Kano, Enugu, and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The blind candidates had earlier been scheduled to sit their examination between Monday, March 23 and Tuesday, 24, according to Peter Okebukola, the chairman of JAMB’s equal opportunity group – a group of professionals saddled with the responsibility of conducting the examination for blind and other disadvantaged candidates.
“The decision to reschedule the examination was in compliance with the minister’s directive that all schools should be shut from Monday. We had to bring the exam forward to this weekend, and we are happy that there was no hitch,” Mr Okebukola told PREMIUM TIMES.
According to the former executive secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), JAMB was not just responsible for the accommodation of the blind candidates across the 12 centres but also their transportation and welfare.
He said the examination body’s desire to give equal opportunities to every candidate irrespective of their challenges had informed the decision to create the equal opportunity group which he noted is peopled by seasoned educationists, special education experts, blind associations, among others.
He said; “In 2019, of the 390 blind candidates who took part in the examination, a total of 175, which is 44.8 per cent, were offered admission. This is unprecedented in the history of admission of such category of students into the Nigerian higher education system.”
Mr Okebukola said most of the candidates were admitted to the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, University of Nigeria (UNN) Nsukka, University of Abuja and Bayero University Kano.
JAMB is grateful to the vice-chancellors of these universities, he said.
“In the interest of bringing the venue of the examination closer to the candidates and in response to precautionary measures against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) especially in limiting the number of candidates that can congregate at a time, JAMB approved the tripling of the number of centres from four in 2019 to 12 this year. The total number of candidates is 354,” Mr Okebukola added.