577 blind candidates to sit for 2024 UTME, those with five O Level credits to get refund

No fewer than 577 blind candidates are set to take the 2024 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board in 11 centres nationwide.

The Chairman, JAMB Equal Opportunity Group, Emeritus Professor Peter Okebukola, made this known on Thursday.

Okebukola made this known to newsmen in preparation for the 2024 UTME for blind candidates and others with special needs assigned to JEOG.

The Registrar of JAMB, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, set up the JAMB Equal Opportunity Group in 2017 for effective handling of the blind candidates and others with special needs.

According to Okebukola: “This year and for the first time, JAMB, through JEOG, will implement the bimodal system of UTME administration.

“This involves Fully-Braille and Fully Read-Aloud.

“Candidates have a choice of mode.

“JEOG has been resourced by JAMB to make the experience of the two modes of test administration pleasant for the candidates.

“With a total of 577 blind candidates, the 2024 UTME presents the highest number.

“We had 348 in 2022, 313 in 2023.

“The 2024 increase is largely due to increased advocacy by JEOG, a process which will be bolstered in the coming years.”

Okebukola, who is also the President of the Global University Network for Innovation, described Oloyede as one of the strongest pillars of equal opportunity of access to higher education in Africa.

He said: “In the last four days, I have conferred with members of GUNi-Africa on how blind candidates aspiring for higher education in Africa are treated in their countries and all are in agreement that Nigeria, through Professor Oloyede, stands clearly out as the best.”

Speaking further, Professor Okebukola revealed: “This year, all blind candidates who are prima facie qualified for admission to institutions of higher learning in Nigeria (that is with at least five O Level credits) will have the cost of their UTME registration refunded on site during the examination.”

The former Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission said the other five “goodies” that Oloyede has been showering on the candidates since 2017 are free hotel accommodation for the blind candidates and their guides, free Braille slate and stylus, customised t-shirts, free meals throughout the examination period and transport supplementation for the blind candidates and their guides.

Okebukola added: “No other African country comes near offering such kind gestures.

“This is why I have nominated Professor Oloyede for the CNN Heroes Award.

“We are mobilising the whole of Africa to support the nomination for 2024 and we will not stop nominating him until God makes it possible for him to be conferred with the award, which he very much deserves.”

On the distribution of the candidates and the centre coordinators, many of whom are former Vice-Chancellors, Okebukola noted: “Kano has the highest number of 138, with Professor Muhammad Yahuza Bello, former Vice-Chancellor of Bayero University, as Coordinator.

This is followed by Lagos with 88 candidates with Professor Olanrewaju Adigun Fagbohun, former VC of Lagos State University, as coordinator.

Others are Abuja (60): Professor Sunday Ododo; Ado-Ekiti (37): Professor Rasheed Aderinoye, former Executive Secretary, National Commission for Nomadic Education; Bauchi (44): Professor Salisu Shehu, current VC of Al-Istiqama University, Sumaila, Kano; Benin (26): Professor Samuel G. Odewumi; Enugu (66); Professor Emeritus Mosto Onuoha (former DVC Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufo-Alike; Kebbi (21): Professor Asabe Kabir; Oyo (57): Professor Taoheed Adedoja, former Minister of Sports and Special Duties; Jos (24): Professor Nasiru Maiturare, former VC of IBB University; and Yola (16): Professor Muhammad Yakasai, VC, Sule Lamido University, Kafin Hausa.

The former NUC ES noted that the examination has been scheduled for April 22 and 23 in the 11 centres and involves 20 subjects.

He explained that the blind candidates take the same test papers as the regular candidates and standards are not lowered in any form.

Okebukola was delighted that Dr. Jake Ekpelle, the Founder/CEO of The Albino Foundation, who is in charge of publicity of JEOG, alongside special interest groups for the blind and the deaf, who are also members of JEOG, were pleased with the arrangements and look forward to a very successful UTME.

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