The 2020 Unified Tertiary Matriculations Examination (UTME) conducted by the Joint Admission and Matriculations Board (JAMB) ended on Saturday, with over 1. 9 million Candidates including 341 blind persons who sat for the examination at the various computer-based centres (CBT) in Nigeria.
About 1. 8 million Candidates sat for the examination last year out of which 390 were blind.
The one-week long examination, however, had all the blind Candidates as the last batch of the exercise distributed across 12 designated centres nationwide with Lagos having the largest candidates (48).
The Chairman of 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.
Equal Opportunity Group, 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.
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 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.
Okebukola told The Nigerian Tribune that 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 disclosed that a total of 175 out of 390 candidates (representing 44.8 per cent) who sat the exam last year secured admission with most of them at UNILAG, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife; University of Nigeria, Nsukka; University of Abuja and Bayero University, Kano.
But when asked what brought about the decision to increase the exam centres from four of that of last year to 12 this year, he said the idea was to bring the venues closer to candidates and also a response to limit congregational gathering at a time in the country to a maximum of 50 as part of measures against the spread of the dreaded COVID-19 in and outside the Country.