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This year’s Unified Tertiary Matriculations Examination (UTME) conducted by the Joint Admission and Matriculations Board (JAMB) will end on Thursday nationwide.
More than 1.3 million candidates including a total of 355 blind persons sat the exam at the various computer-based centres (CBT) spread across the country.
The figure was less than that of last year edition and the year before it as about 1. 9 and 1.8 million candidates sat for the exam in 2020 and 2019 out of which 341 and 390 were blind candidates, respectively.
The one-week-long exam, however, had all the blind candidates as usual as the last batch of the exercise distributed across 11 designated centres nationwide with Lagos centre having the largest candidates (51).
The blind candidates just like their other mates were assessed in a total of 19 subjects including the use of English and Mathematics with each doing four subjects as applicable to their proposed courses of study and they were allowed to make use of instruments as convenient including braille and typewriter to write their exams.
But unlike regular candidates who sit their papers once, blind candidates write theirs per subject and it is JAMB that is responsible (except N4,700 exam fee) for their transportation and that of their guide persons from their homes to the exam centres, hotel accommodation for those who could not go home as well as feeding.
Tribune Online monitored the exercise, on Wednesday, at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, which served as a centre for both Lagos and Ogun states.
The Chairman of the Equal Opportunity Group and former Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof Peter Okebukola, and some members of the group directly supervised the exercise at the centre. Other members of the 42-member team supervised the remaining 10 centres in other parts of the country.
Equal Opportunity Group (JEOG), comprising senior lecturers including experts in special education is a creation of JAMB in 2017 to specifically conduct UTME for candidates to ensure that no qualified Nigerian notwithstanding his or her disability will be denied taking the exam or seeking admission into tertiary schools nationwide.
Okebukola said JAMB took the step to provide the same platform for all candidates and that the method had been a great booster to the enrollment of blind persons into tertiary schools in the country.
He said the group had processed over 1,680 candidates for UTME with more than one-third of them admitted to courses of their choice in universities across the country.
He disclosed that a total of 175 out of 390 candidates (representing 44.8 per cent) and a total of 89 out of 351 candidates (representing 25 per cent) who sat the exam in 2019 and 2020 respectively secured admission with most of them at UNILAG, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife; University of Nigeria, Nsukka; University of Abuja; Bayero University, Kano; Adamawa State University; Baze University, Abuja; Federal College of Education(Special), Oyo; Akanu Ibiam Polytechnic; Delta State University; Usmanu Dan Fodio University, Nnamdi Azikiwe University and so forth. .
He said the decision to increase the exam centres from its original four to 11 this year was to bring the venues closer to candidates and also a response to limit congregational gathering at this time of COVID-19 to curtail the spread of the virus.
However, some of the candidates shared their experiences with Nigerian Tribune saying the exam was hitch-free.
They said they were desperate to have tertiary education so that it would be easier according to them to achieve their aspirations for life, adding that they would never be a liability to anybody.
One of them, Ayodele Gideon, 20, from Ogun State, said he believes he did well in his exam and would obtain enough marks to secure his admission to study political science at UNILAG.