The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has stopped parents from choosing courses for their children with disabilities who are seeking admission into tertiary institutions.
Registrar of JAMB, Prof Is-haq Oloyede stated this during the Equal Opportunity Group conference organised by JAMB in Abuja on Monday, September 25, with the theme: “Towards Increasing Equal Opportunity of Access to Higher Education in Nigeria.”
Oloyede said the board was ready not only to facilitate access but also to ensure equity as special arrangements had been made for the inclusivity of PWDs to acquire tertiary education.
Oloyede, who was reacting to the comments by the national president of the National Association of Visually Impaired, Stanley Onyebuchi: “The case of the student that wanted to study law, it was her stepfather that said she cannot go as far as Calabar to study law but asked that she be enrolled in Kaduna State University.
He said: “This is because the course she showed interest in was not available at the university but the father asked that she study special education.
“We have now taken a decision that henceforth, just like with regular admissions, no parent will be allowed to have a say in the admission choice of candidates with disabilities.”
The national president of the national association of visually impaired, Stanley Onyebuchi, said some of their members faced some sort of rejection from tertiary institutions in the areas of their choice courses.
Onyebuchi said when PWDs sought admission to tertiary institutions, some of the institutions castigated them saying they were not meant to be at the institution.
He added that the economic hardship occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy had taken a toll on its members as many of them no longer continued their education.
He said: “I want the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities to take note of our complaint.
“If it means a sensitisation visit, we don’t mind going around because for us, the visually impaired persons, education is key to our success, anything that will hinder us from achieving this we will not take it
“Also with the increment in the tuition fees, that has discouraged our members from going back to school. I want to suggest that since the government wants our children to be off the streets, there should be free education for all persons with disabilities in all the tertiary institutions.”
He advocated for a good working environment, noting that PWDs most times lacked some assisting devices that would make them work effectively.
The Minister of Education, Prof. Mamman said the Federal Government was paying attention to ensure that every member of the society had equal access to education.
He said equal opportunity to higher education must begin with inclusivity while calling on tertiary institutions and their communities on inclusive access for PWDs.
The minister said: “We must work by focusing on an accessible learning environment where a physically appropriate environment is needed and an inclusive curriculum for all students.
“Support services should be readily available in the institutions, faculty and staff training who will be sensitive to the need of the diversity must be put into consideration.
“All information from application processes in the format that will suit the PWDs must also be ensured.”
The ministry promised to continue in the delivery of President Bola Tinubu’s mandates by focusing on policies that promoted inclusivity and unity.
Also, the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Disability, Bashiru Daudu said the House was about kick-starting the awareness of the Disability Act 2018.
Daudu said the committee would start implementation of the act in January 2024 saying this would address the needs of PWDs in the country.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFund, Sen. Ahmad Kaita, pledged to explore innovative funding to ensure all Nigerians have equal opportunity to higher education.
The Chairman of Jamb Equal Opportunity Group (JEOG), Prof. Peter Okebukola said the group was created with a view to reviewing the conduct of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination for candidates with special needs.
Okebukola noted that the event would offer a sustainable solution to the programme so that more PWDs could be included to address their educational needs, especially at the tertiary level.
The event also featured the unveiling of the Strategic Roadmap for Inclusive Access to Quality Higher Education in Nigeria 2024-2028.