As Adedoja seeks computer education for the blind

By Dayo Adesulu


THE Registrar, Joint Admission and   Matriculation Board (JAMB), Professor Ishaq Oloyede’s special attention to blind candidates sitting for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) has been commended in many countries and cited as model for Africa.

Former Executive Secretary (NUC) and UNESCO consultant, Professor Peter Okebukola  during the UTME for blind candidates in Lagos said:’’This JAMB initiative has been cited in the last two years in several countries, as a good model for Africa.’’

You will recall that in 2017, JAMB’s leadership under Professor Ishaq Oloyede set up the Equal Opportunity Group with Professor Peter Okebukola, as Chairman. The Group is made up of senior academics including experts in special education and other relevant stakeholders.

JAMB Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede

Speaking with Vanguard during the examination, Professor Okebukola said: ‘’The goal of the Oloyede-led JAMB is to ensure that no Nigerian who is eligible, is prevented from taking the UTME regardless of disability, adding, ‘’Professor Oloyede holds the firm view that we must have a level playing field for all candidates.’’

According to him, so long as the candidate is intellectually capable and meets the  minimum conditions for admission in the university/polytechnic/colleges of education of choice, he/she should have a good chance of admission placement.

He said 390 blind candidates on Tuesday and Wednesday this week wrote the examinations across the UTME centres in Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Enugu States under the chairmanship of Professor Peter Okebukola.

Many of the 139 blind candidates who sat for the UTME at the University of Lagos, UNILAG centre, expressed joy for the equal opportunity that JAMB under the leadership of Professor Ishaq Oloyede has given to them.

‘’So far, a respectable number of blind candidates processed through the JAMB Equal Opportunity Group (JEOG) have secured admission to federal, state and private universities, polytechnics and colleges of education,’’ he said.

In the breakdown of the four JAMB centres for the blinds across the country, he said that Abuja had 57 candidates, Enugu 59, Kano 135 and Lagos 139.

Speaking in the same vein, Former Minister for Sports and Special Duties and Former Provost of the Federal College of Education Special Oyo, Professor Taoheed Adedoja said: ‘’As an Educator with passion for person’s with disability am here as one of the monitoring teams for the JAMB Examination for blind persons being held at the University of Lagos.’’

‘’The recent law that has been passed by the National Assembly and signed by  President Buhari will open better access to disabled people in Nigeria,’’ he said.

He reiterated that it is a good thing for our country to have opportunity for persons with disability to have access to higher education in Nigeria.

He said: ‘’We have had a lot of cases of discrimination against disabled persons, even those that are not disabled in Nigeria does not have the opportunity to access higher eduction in Nigeria. ‘’If you look at the last five years, only about 16 to 17 percentage of youths in secondary schools and graduates  have access to higher education.

‘’JAMB is conscious of the need and opportunity given to people with disability particularly blind persons that desire education. I think, it is a welcome development in this country.

‘’Irrespective of ones disability, there is virtually  no academic discipline that disabled persons cannot do, Those on wheelchair can study medicine, study law, economics and virtually everything you can think of.

‘’The same thing with blind persons, blind persons can be best lawyers in this country, can be best engineers even computer scientists, blind persons can be best economics in this country, blind persons can be best teacher, blind persons can undertake any course of study in the Social and Management sciences.’’

Asked his assessment of the examination, Professor Adedoja said: ‘’You can see for yourself that the blind persons are very happy that the country is catering for them, they are happy that they are going to have opportunities in life, opportunities in education, that is why special centre is created for them.

‘’Virtually all the opportunities that are available for non blind persons are also available to blind persons but they need to acquire more opportunities. One of the best ways of acquiring more opportunities is to give computer education to the blind person. Out of one hundred blind persons in Nigeria, only one blind person is computer literate.

‘’Out of 100 blind persons, the maximum you have with computer knowledge is two. Today, out of about one hundred  and thirty-nine blind candidates that are sitting for JAMB, only seven of them are computer literate. We can not leave this to government alone, the private sector must come in to assist the blind people to be computer literate because computer literacy is key.’’ He explained that without computer literacy, they can not fit into the social economic development of any country, can not have access to information and key issues in education and  E-learning.

In his remarks, former Vice-Chancellor of Ekiti State University, Professor Samuel Bandele said he was delighted to join other professors in the supervision of the UTME for the blind.

He said: ‘’This is one of the exceptional unique innovations brought in by the current registrar of JAMB, Professor Ishaq Oloyede. ‘’I am particularly encouraged that he committed this kind of special programme in the hands of Prof. Okebukola who does everything to perfection.

He urged everyone to appreciate JAMB innovation for the blind.

‘’They should not be deprived of university education. This is one of the most novel innovation that the jamb registrar has brought into the examination.

‘’Candidates should be grateful to God, the current leadership of JAMB and also to those  managing this particular type of innovation. ‘’They should take advantage of it and when they get to the university, they should excel and know they are humans like others.’’

On his part, Barr. Danlami Basharu, the Executive Director of the Anglo Welfare Association For the Blind and the current chairman of the United Nations Committee on the Right of Persons with Disabilities said he was satisfied that the blinds are being given the ability to sit for the Jamb examination.

He, however said that he would have preferred that blind candidates use the CBT. He said: ‘’The Nigeria Association of the Blind have been discussing with JAMB, stating that we want the blind students to be fully involved in the CBT type examínations. ‘’However many of our students at the moment are not conversant with the use of the computer. ‘’We have discussed with JAMB to give us  about five years whereby we can train all the blind students with the use of the computer. This will also help them to sit for mathematics examinations because mathematics has been a difficult issue for blind students.

‘’However that is not possible for now because we have realized that JAMB has made exceptional grounds to ensure that they take the examination which is very appreciable and  met united nations requirements as well.’’

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